Health Advice



Getting healthy and happy by giving up ultraprocessed foods

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

"American Ultra" is a 2015 black comedy about a mild-mannered slacker turned CIA hit man. That's a pretty good analogy for any super-bland-tasting, squishy, white-bread-encased, fast-food sandwich. That ultraprocessed conglomeration is really a killing machine, just like Jesse Eisenberg's hapless character, Mike.

Three new studies prove the point. One, published in The BMJ, found that overall high consumption of ultraprocessed foods in men was associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. And, men who ate meat/poultry/seafood based ready-to-eat products and sugar sweetened beverages were especially vulnerable, as were women who ate ready-to-eat/heat mixed dishes. Among both men and women, the top 20% of ultraprocessed food consumers were also more likely to be current smokers or to have smoked for many years before quitting; to be heavier; get less physical activity; and consume less dietary fiber, folate, calcium, vitamin D, and whole grains and eat more fat, added sugars, and processed meats.

A second study published in BMJ found that adults with the lowest quality diet and the highest intake of ultraprocessed food were at highest risk for death from cardiovascular disease.

And then there's the study that found an association between eating ultraprocessed foods and emotional distress. Researchers found that adults who ate the most ultraprocessed foods had statistically significant increases in mild depression, "mentally unhealthy days" and "anxious days," compared to folks eating the least amount of the ultraprocessed foods.

Need I add, "Eat a plant-based diet (salmon is a good addition), and no red or processed meats, added sugars or highly processed foods"?



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



Chip Bok David Fitzsimmons Lisa Benson Rudy Park Master Strokes: Golf Tips Cathy