New research shows that the long-term effects of an “ultraprocessed” diet are worse than previously imagined. Scientists from France and Spain say that highly processed foodstuffs are primary drivers of disease and according to their studies, can increase the risk of early death.

After taking a cold, hard look at the “standard American diet,” it’s really not surprising that these “foods” make people sick and die. Most processed foods are an amalgam of heavily refined grains, GMO corn,  corn syrup, trans fats, artificial flavors and colors, and preservatives. Indeed, most processed “food” isn’t really food at all. And if the chemicals used to make processed food aren’t bad enough on their own (they are), most food packaging contains harmful, endocrine-disrupting compounds like BPA — which can leach into food.

Processed foods are a total health disaster not only because they contain a bevy of toxic substances, but because they are nutritionally bereft food-shaped things that give your body nothing but empty calories and a blood sugar spike. Eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger is practically equivalent to eating your kid’s Play-doh. However, Play-doh at least comes with a warning about the high salt content and admits that while their product is non-toxic, it’s not meant to be food.

Ironically, it appears that Play-Doh shares several ingredients in common with your standard McDonald’s hamburger bun.

Scientists from France and Spain teamed up to examine the health effects of processed foods. Their research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, shows that a diet burdened with junk is associated with an early death.

In France, researchers from the University of Paris gathered health and diet data from 105,000 people, and then tracked them for five years. Across the board, people who ate more processed foods were at an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular issues.

In other words, the French team found that for every ten percent of your diet that comes from processed foods, there is a 12 percent increase in your risk of having a cardiac event or developing heart disease. Past research has also linked processed food consumption to cancer.

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