Ultraprocessed foods research

I read this article and would love to hear thoughts from @Huel nutrition people.

“If you take, for example, whole oats and ground oats, they have identical back-of-the-pack labelling and the same NOVA classification. When people are fed whole oats you get a very blunted blood sugar, blood glucose response. When they’re fed finely ground oats you get this massive peak in glucose, then a dip, an increase in hunger, and this increase in inflammation. This is because processed food breaks down the food structure, breaks down what we call the ‘food matrix’. And you get totally different effects on inflammation as a result of the structure of the food.

The more time the body spends in an inflammatory state, the greater the risk of chronic diseases. Nutritionists are divided about what the most effective approach is to take to the threat provided by UPFs. Purists argue that the only surefire response is to the cut them right out of the diet, or cut them right down. But as they currently make up 50-60% of the western diet, that might be unrealistic.

A more pragmatic school suggests that the ill-effects can be drastically lessened by counterbalancing additives. Berry herself tends towards this kind of dietary realism."

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James has covered this a lot here and on his socials.

His starting info about upf seems different?

So the consumption of ground cereals is damaging to health? We’ve been grinding cereals for about 8,000 years.

If only we’d realised the harm we were doing when we broke down the ‘food matrix’ and invented ‘bread’. What idiocy. :roll_eyes:

Bread was the best thing invented before sliced bread

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As @Phil_C has mentioned, James our co-founder and Head of Nutrition here at Huel put together this article which should help to answer any questions or concerns you have around the term ultraprocessed - Unprocessing the Ultra-Processed Mindset

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Thanks. I was a bit intimidated by the authoritative tone and reputation of The Guardian. James picks it all apart neatly.

Hi @Karens - thanks for raising this.

To address the query about oat flour vs oats - it’s complex. If one were to consume just oat flour vs oats, it’s likely the glucose response would differ. But we don’t do this. We consume other foods and ingredients at the same time and this will affect the glucose response.

Thanks, Charlotte, for linking to my new article. As you can see, I don’t feel it’s wise to use the term UPF when looking at specific foods.

It would be interesting to know more about the effects of foods on the microbiome - this will be the key to understanding whether unprocessed foods are “better” with regard to certain endpoints like disease prevention, weight control, anti aging or positive psychological effects than “processed” foods.

Do you have more data on this? Or are you doing research on that?

Hi @mbs - the interaction between food and the microbiome is so complex and the potential for confounders in research is huge. For instance, most people don’t have one particular food, they have loads so it’s hard/impossible to see the effects of one thing on the microbiome. Plus the microbiome is individual-specific and changes every day.

It’s a fascinating area, I agree, and it is on our radar with our research partners, but I’m not sure what a study would look like.

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The challenge is that you would have to mine large amounts of omics-data, which requires computing power and qualified personell. This would be quite expensive, which would also be reflected in the price I suppose, and I am not sure whether all customers are that interested in research that they would be willing to pay more. Even if you could gain valuable insights to improve your product.

And as always in research, what are you going to do if the results do not turn in your favour? Publish it? You would have costs that would even be bad for your business, so from a marketing perspective it would not be a wise idea anyway.

People who write in the forum seem to be more informed, but I guess the majority of customers just wants to have a convenient product that feels “healthy” (without having a clear idea of what is meant by that) and tastes good. Or am I wrong?

1: What do Omics data have to do with this in particular?

2: the cost, from what you have proposed, would come from an experimental design, which is enormous with people.

3: no studies have shown any comprehensive data on gut microbiomes, and ones that are in media are misrepresented. There is no compelling reason for a company like Huel to do this, and even large corporations that have get little useable data. Self-reporting is notoriously bad data.

4: I am not sure what you mean by “feels healthy”? Can you explain what you think is healthy or not healthy and the product?