Too much chocolate, chips, and bread: How processed foods are harming Australians

Processed foods have been linked with higher rates of chronic kidney disease.

Processed foods have been linked with higher rates of chronic kidney disease. Photo: TND

Diets high in processed foods – from chocolate and chips to bread – increase the risk of kidney disease, an Australian study has shown.

The Monash University study found some chemical compounds in processed foods prompt “leaky gut syndrome”, in which the intestinal lining becomes more porous, triggering inflammation and poor gut health.

This ultimately increases the odds of developing chronic kidney disease.

These chemical compounds, known as Advanced Glycation End Products, add flavour to food and increase their sensory effect.

Chips, bread, bakery products, chocolate and confectionery contain AGEs.

However, the study, published in Science Advances, also found the body’s inflammatory response could be “switched off” by consuming foods with high resistant starch fibre such as oats, rice, legumes and potatoes.

These foods help gut bacteria ferment anti-inflammatory metabolites.

Associate Professor Melinda Coughlan said in a statement on Thursday that about 10 per cent of the world’s population is affected by kidney disease.

Processed foods not only increased the likelihood of kidney disease but also diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cancer and stomach diseases.

“We can look to make alternative food formulations or functional foods aimed at dampening the body’s (inflammatory) response,” Professor Coughlan said.

“Given the increasing interest in the effects of processed food on health, we believe that these findings represent an important step towards understanding and countering the detrimental features of the modern diet.”

Monash will this year conduct a clinical trial in which people with early diabetic kidney disease are given foods with high resistant starch fibre.


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