Feb. 14, 2023 – UPFs are notoriously low in fiber, which could also cause the breakdown of normal regulatory mechanisms by disrupting the gut microbiome. This could cause immune dysregulation, the impairment of gut barrier integrity, and the passage of bacteria into the circulation, leading to systemic inflammation. This also could activate gut-brain neural pathways that indirectly affect brain neurotransmitters.

In addition, the impact of dysbiosis on the gut peptides and hormones produces a range of effects on the brain. The interconnected levels of these may reinforce unhealthy cravings for junk foods like UPFs, with binge eating and poor self-control. This may explain the association with depressive symptoms.

Furthermore, food additives that are found in plenty in UPFs cannot be ignored as they may cause neural damage and dysbiosis, uncoupling the relationship between caloric intake and gut responses, promoting gut inflammation and oxidative stress. All of these result in poor health and increase the risk of depression and impaired cognition via direct and indirect neural toxicity.