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Is it Aging or Is It Processed Foods?

By Joan Ifland August 09, 2023 Health and Fitness

I’m past 70, and I don’t feel like I’m aging. I’m just as active as I’ve been for the last 25 years. My recent annual physical showed perfect blood work and no ailments.

Why? Because I know the difference between aging and processed foods.

Whaaat? I’ve been in the field of addiction to processed foods since 1996. That’s over 25 years of feeling younger and younger.

How did I do this? I discovered one of the greatest deceptions ever.

Processed Foods Mimic Aging

Processed foods are associated with over 100 diseases of all kinds. Many physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral distresses can be traced back to processed foods.

However, the food and pharmaceutical industries don’t want you to know this. They’re making extraordinary profits from selling addictive processed foods and then selling the pharmaceuticals to mask the consequences of processed foods.

How do Big Food and Big Pharma do this?

Well, the consequences of processed foods get worse over time. Processed foods have been shown to diminish cell function. Over time, cells get weaker and weaker until they’re so weak that a disease symptom appears. Processed foods continue to weaken cell functions and so the symptoms get worse and worse over time.

The Confusion Is About How Time Passes

This is happening over time. Aging also happens over time. (Duh!) So the food/pharma industries have neatly persuaded us that it’s aging not processed foods that are the cause of the many illnesses that appear in old age.

Is that diabolical or what?

I don’t want to get you too excited. It’s a bit of work to get processed foods out of your life but with patience, determination, and eyes-wide-open, you can do it.

Is It Really Worth It?

Of course, you’re asking yourself, “Would it really be worth it to give up processed foods? I loooove processed foods.” I know you’re thinking about sweets and breads but here’s an idea. Why not just try it for one week, or one month? If you don’t like the results, you can go back to eating processed foods. Is that a deal?

Here’s what you can expect. After 4-8 days of withdrawal, you may notice that cravings are gone. Yes! You get to think about what you want to think about and not what the food/pharma industries want you to think about.

Brain fog lifts. This is a reliable result that I’ve seen consistently over 25 years of watching people come out of the haze of processed foods.

Bloating eases off. Energy improves. Anxiety and depression are reduced.

At the end of three weeks, people generally notice that their mood has improved. Blood pressure and blood glucose are heading toward normal. Allergies are better. Sinuses are draining. Joint pain is diminished. And on and on.

Why Do So Many Different Health Problems Start Resolving So Quickly?

In addition to attacking cells, processed foods are inflammatory. A lot of ‘old age’ aches and pains could actually be the result of consuming inflammatory processed foods. Is this amazing, or what?

Inflammation interferes with respiration, heart function, and mobility. New evidence shows that it also inflames the brain which may explain brain fog.

Also, processed foods are addictive, so they pull blood flow from the frontal lobe to addicted brain cells in the reward centers. Depriving the frontal lobe of blood flow is a reason for loss of executive function in old age. This includes attention, learning, decision-making, memory, and impulse control. People are really surprised that these functions improve when processed foods are eliminated regardless of age.

Processed foods inflame our hormone regulating system which means that moods related to hormones can improve when processed foods are removed from our diet.

Processed foods also feed nasty organisms in our gut. These leak out into the bloodstream and cause physical and mental pain.

The list goes on. It’s fun to get off of processed foods and wake up every day wondering which symptoms of ‘old age’ will be gone.

Where to Start?

I know you want to do this. Be patient with yourself. Eliminating processed foods is a long, slow process. It takes time to build the skills needed to live in a culture where 67% of foods consumed by Americans are processed.

Where to start? Just observe. Start noticing which foods still look like they did at the time of harvest, and which no longer look like the plants and animals they came from. (We’ll talk more about this in future blogs.)

And start educating yourself. Check out the Self-Quiz for signs of processed food addiction. Sign up to get access to free information. Both can be done at

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How often do you buy and eat processed food? Is it a habit or an addiction? Have you tried getting off of processed foods? How did you rate on the quiz? Please share your thoughts!

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it makes a huge difference, I’ve just been trying to eliminate foods with added sugar, and trying to eat greens before each meal – I would say that I’m trying to follow the Glucose Goddess way of eating – it has helped out. I don’t have near as much anxiety as I used to and I’ve lost weight without “dieting”.

Sandra Pfister

I was so amazed during the pandemic that such a huge number of people didn’t know how to cook for themselves or their families anymore. I have lived alone most of my adult life and have always cooked. My crockpot and my freezer are my best kitchen appliances. You can control what and how you eat so much better that way. I make my own soups, chili, I grill outside. Of course, I am not perfect and I do eat the occasional donut or whatever. But, by and large – I cook 95-98% of the time. It isn’t a big deal, I just put larger portions into my freezer to eat at a later date. I am 75 and have had a heart attack 13 years ago (which woke me up to certain genetic issues). However, as my cardiologist says – I have been stable for all of that time, my tests show only minor issues and my lifestyle hasn’t changed a whole lot. I sleep 8 hours a day, am very active, travel and thoroughly enjoy my life. It can be done.


Thank you for having the courage to share this information. I have known it for 20 years when my chiropractor helped me get off of wheat and dairy and soy, and I started eating a super healthy diet. I also do not feel like I am aging. My friends are getting body parts replaced.
I share about this on my Instagram, where you can see how a 66 year-old who does not eat processed foods looks (and snowboards.) I say, we shouldn’t blame the people who eat badly. It takes a lot of reading, research, and mentorship to know how our food supply has changed for the worse since the 1970s. It’s not your grandma’s canned vegetable soup anymore!
Lauren Teton
MsTwifty on Instagram


Processed food is designed to be addictive. I had decades of depression and fatigue until I eliminated processed foods. After a couple of weeks eating healthy, you feel so much better physically and mentally. I have my cheats now and then like pizza, croissants and the occasional donut. Start eliminating the bad food little by little and you can get there. The same goes for your pets too. Kibble is aging and damaging to your pets health. I cook my dogs food and she is 16 (already past her life expectancy).


I agree Kim…kibble for cats is a silent killer.. felines can not digest carbs in kibble and all those unnecessary ingredients that are addictive.. cats need to eat protein.. thank you for your comment.

Lee Ann Phinney

I have known this for years but never took it (trying to eliminate processed foods) seriously until I managed to lose 25 lbs at the beginning of the year by mainly eliminating sugar. Now I’m maintaining, and at 66 feel and look better than I have in a while.😊

The Author

Dr. Ifland wrote/edited the textbook Processed Food Addiction: Foundations, Assessment, and Recovery. Her PhD is from Union Institute and her MBA is from Stanford. She is the food addiction specialist selected by the Oprah Winfrey Network. She founded which provides online recovery services and training in recovery from processed food addiction.

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