Ultra-processed foods undergo “predigestion” leaving people feeling less satisfied compared to whole foods

A representational image of a burger and french fries — AFP/File

Fast food has simplified eating habits but it comes at a cost as it lacks essential nutrients and hence fails to trigger fullness signals — the reason why you seem to always be able to eat more potato chips. 

What happens is that, as per scientists, certain ultra-processed foods undergo “predigestion,” leaving you feeling less satisfied compared to when consuming whole foods leading to overeating and health issues such as obesity.

Chris van Tulleken, a virology expert from University College London, explains, “Grain bars, breakfast cereal, ice cream, or confectionery – they all start with the same basic ingredients.” This illusion of food arises from manufacturers breaking down corn, wheat, and potatoes into molecular “slurries.”

Starch Europe, an industry association, notes that nearly half of these slurries are used to produce starch-based sugars through a process similar to digestion with manufacturers adding additives and flavours using industrial machinery to create a wide variety of processed foods.

Meanwhile, Dr David Katz, a preventive medicine expert, has warned that this consumption of processed food can contribute to health problems like obesity and cancer.

Yet, avoiding predigested foods is challenging in a country where they dominate the food supply as studies show they make up 73% of the US diet — providing over 60% of daily calories for the average adult.

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