Virginia Tech study will track ultra-processed food’s impact on the human body

There is a belief that “ultra-processed” foods, which contain many manufactured ingredients, are bad for you.

These types of foods are usually found in “crumpled packages” in the middle aisles of grocery stores. Examples include potato chips, sweet breakfast cereals, and soft drinks.

An assistant professor at Virginia Tech says they make up an average of 58% of the US’s daily caloric intake.

Alex DeFeliciantonio is in the Division of Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise at the Fralyn Biomedical Institute.

“What is it about our bodies and brains that makes it difficult for us to change what we eat?” she said. What is it about food and our food environment that makes us

Three grants from the National Institutes of Health (totaling $1.3 million over two years) will fund this work. The team is looking for 32 volunteers for a controlled trial. The study will also be conducted in a “normal” American population with low physical activity, not athletes.

One group might eat unflavored yogurt mixed with honey and nuts, while another group might eat extra ingredients and a bowl of cereal, Deferricantonio says. Subjects also undergo fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), which looks at functional activity in the brain.

“So they spend two weeks on the minimally processed diet, and they get a four-week washout.”Then they continue on the other diet for two weeks, so each person acts as their own control. So we don’t need that many people, but we spend more time doing research.”

The first of the grants is funding research by DiFeliceantonio and Co-Principal Investigator and Professor Brenda Davy. The research also involved faculty members from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University.

The team will see how each diet affects cognitive behavior.

DiFeliceantonio said data collection could extend beyond the two years of the grant. This means teams should apply for more funding.

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