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Dr Michael Mosley says ditching one food can cut risk of heart disease and cancer – Daily Record

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Dr Michael Mosley has suggested that eliminating one specific food type from your diet could drastically reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

On his BBC podcast Just One Thing, the renowned TV doctor – famed for popularising the Fast 800 diet – explained how this single tip could also enhance mental health, help shed a few inches off the waistline, and even save some money.

The discussion centred around the benefits of home cooking and removing ultra-processed foods from our diets. The NHS website defines processed food as something that ‘has been altered in some way during preparation’.

It further explains: “Ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat are sometimes added to processed foods to make their flavour more appealing and to extend their shelf life, or in some cases to contribute to the food’s structure.”

On the contrary, Dr Mosley describes cooking from scratch as ‘making real food with real ingredients, whether fresh, frozen or dried’. He says that home cooking can decrease calorie intake, improve mental health, and benefit your gut microbiome.

When it comes to the consumption of ultra-processed foods, the UK is among the worst culprits in Europe. Estimates vary, but some suggest that up to two-thirds of the calories consumed by the nation come from ultra-processed foods, reports Gloucestershire Live.

Michael Mosley
Cooking from scratch has a range of important health benefits
(Image: PR Handout)

He warned about the health risks associated with such diets: “They can be a quick and easy option but they are often an unhealthy one. An umbrella review published in the BMJ found a clear link between a diet high in ultra-processed food and 32 harmful health effects, including higher risks of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, poor mental heath and early death.”

However, Dr Mosley also shared some positive insights: “But the good news is cooking from scratch more frequently can have a big positive impact particularly on your waistline. A study of more than 11,000 people found that those who ate home-cooked meals more than five times a week were 28 per cent less likely to be overweight than those who cooked from scratch three times a week or less.”

Moreover, Dr Mosley discussed the psychological advantages: “And getting creative in the kitchen can also boost your mental health. Studies in both healthy volunteers and cancer patients have found learning to cook has a big impact on well-being. This could be because when cooking from scratch, you tend to make healthier food choices. Simply learning a new skill will boost confidence, which elevates self-esteem.”

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Dr Emily Leeming, a nutrition scientist from King’s College London, has thrown her weight behind the view that ultra-processed foods are engineered to be irresistible due to their high sugar and fat content. She explained: “Ultra-processed foods are made and engineered to taste delicious, and we know that the things that make foods taste good are higher sugars and higher fat. Those aren’t bad things in themselves, but they do tend to make us go over our energy needs, and that is a problem.”

She highlighted that home cooking often leads to increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, supported by studies including one from the US which compared the effects of ultra-processed foods with whole, homecooked meals over four weeks.

The findings were stark: those on an ultra-processed diet consumed around 500 extra calories daily and gained an average of 1kg, whereas participants eating whole foods lost the same amount.

Her golden advice was to stock your freezer with frozen fruits and vegetables. She explained that in our modern times, food is often flash-frozen soon after harvest, thus preserving a high level of its nutrients.

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