Diet Rich in Ultra-Processed Foods Increases Dementia Risk

  • A new study suggests that a diet rich in ultra-processed foods may increase the risk of developing dementia.
  • Researchers found that people who consumed 28% or more of their calories from ultra-processed foods had an increased risk of dementia.
  • An expert explains the key takeaways from this new study.

We all know that certain foods are better for you than others, and that a healthy diet is key to feeling your best. A new study has found that eating ultra-processed foods actually increases the risk of dementia.

dementia It is not a specific disease, but a general term for disorders such as memory, thinking, and judgment that interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementiaAnd according to CDC, an estimated 5 million adults at least 65 years of age had dementia in 2014. That number is projected to reach about 14 million by 2060.

Research published in Department of Neurology, JAMA Presented at the 2022 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, it followed 10,775 people for 10 years. Participants included both men and women, and the average age he was 51 years. Participants completed a food frequency questionnaire and reported their caloric intake during the study. At the end of the 10-year period, participants were assessed for changes in cognitive performance over time utilizing multiple cognitive-related tests.

Researchers determined that people who consumed 28% or more of their calories from ultra-processed foods were at increased risk of dementia. On an average diet of 2000 calories, this equates to just 400 calories per day for him from ultra-processed foods.

This isn’t the first study to depict a relationship between ultra-processed foods and a larger health concern, and probably won’t be the last either. Earlier this year, researchers found that: Ultra-processed foods cause cancer, premature death and heart diseaseThere are also other studies linking ultra-processed foods to dementia. neurology in July.

What are ultra-processed foods?

The study defined ultra-processed foods as “food substances (oils, fats, sugars, starches, and protein isolates) that contain little or no whole foods and usually contain flavors, colors, emulsifiers, and other cosmetic additives. substances)”.

In general, “if food is simple, cheap, packaged, has been on the shelf for years, or contains artificial colors or flavors, or synthetic additives, it is super It could be a processed food,” he said. Jackie Nugent, RDN, CDNPlant-Forward Culinary Nutritionist and Author Clean and Simple Diabetes Cookbook. “They are manufactured formulations or substances with little remaining ‘whole food’ value, such as protein isolates, refined oils, processed sugars and starches.”

According to Newgent, examples of ultra-processed foods include:

  • sugary drinks
  • packaged cookies
  • breakfast cereals made from refined grains
  • Snack chips or pretzels made from refined grains
  • Processed red meats such as bacon and hot dogs

How do ultra-processed foods affect your health?

Frequent eating of ultra-processed foods is less healthy than fresh foods, says Amit Satchdev, MDdirector of the Department of Neuromuscular Medicine at Michigan State University.

Part of the problem is that you may be changing health short based on your condition No Get, says Nugent. “It’s not the occasional enjoyment of ultra-processed foods in your meal plan that’s worrisome. It’s if you’re eating them instead of healthy, nutrient-dense foods, and you’re consistently eating ultra-processed foods over a long period of time.” This is when you are eating

How do ultra-processed foods affect our brain health and contribute to dementia risk?

From previous research, “regular consumption of ultra-processed foods appears to be associated with increased inflammation in the brain,” explains Nugent.

The best association between dementia risk and diet is by overall health, Dr. Sachdev says. “A healthy body leads to a healthy brain.” And diets that include fresh foods are usually more balanced and more nutritious, he adds.


“What you eat is really important for your brain and body,” says Dr. Sachdev. But as Nugent explains, we know nobody’s perfect. Generally speaking, just know that you can enjoy refined grain pretzels and chips from time to time. But it’s the handful, not the cup, that counts, says Nugent, and sometimes not every day.

Ultimately it’s all about balance. But this new research shows just how important a healthy diet is for every part of our body, especially the brain. increase.

So until we know how to treat dementia, we should do our best to prevent the onset of dementia, starting with a healthy lifestyle and a diet that minimizes ultra-processed foods.

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