Diet high in ultra-processed foods increases dementia risk: Study

Is Your Diet Making You Slack?

Foods such as chips, cookies, frozen meals and sodas contribute to cognitive decline, according to a new study with data from more than 72,000 individuals.

Compared to those who eat a whole diet, people who consume high amounts of ultra-processed dishes are more likely to develop dementia. And for every 10% increase in junk food consumption, the researchers found a 25% increase in the likelihood of being diagnosed with neurodegenerative disease.

The reason for this correlation is not yet clear, but scientists at the American Academy of Neurology say previous studies support what we put into our bodies and how it affects the mind.

Ultra-processed foods are defined by a high percentage of sugar, fat and salt, as well as a lack of protein and fiber.

And they can be confusing, the researchers point out, as even seemingly healthy foods — such as prepackaged (not homemade) guacamole or low-calorie frozen meals — are often made with questionable ingredients, additives and preservatives. are loaded.

Even foods branded as “healthy” can be considered ultraprocessed due to the number of additives and preservatives found in the dish.
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“Ultra-processed foods are meant to be convenient and tasty, but they tend to reduce the quality of a person’s diet,” said study author Huiping Li, PhD, of Tianjin Medical University in China. in a statement, “These foods may also contain food additives or molecules produced from packaging or during heating, all of which have been shown in other studies to negatively impact thinking and memory skills.”

“Our research not only found that ultra-processed foods are associated with an increased risk of dementia, it found that replacing them with healthier alternatives may reduce dementia risk,” Lee said.

The researchers pulled from the UK Biobank a medical database of nearly half a million UK residents for their analysis, and identified 72,083 viable participants aged 55 and older with no prior history of dementia. The cohort was then divided into four groups, based on the percentage of ultra-processed foods eaten each day, on a scale from lowest to highest.

Ultra-processed foods account for 9% of the average daily diet of those on the lowest level of junk food intake. At the other end of the spectrum, ultra-processed foods accounted for about 28% of what people consumed daily.

Sweets And Gifts
“Our research not only found that ultra-processed foods are associated with an increased risk of dementia, but replacing them with healthier alternatives may reduce dementia risk,” said study author Huiping Li, PhD, of Tianjin Medical University in China. Is.”
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By the end of the UK Biobank survey, which followed participants for an average of 10 years, 518 of those included in the current report had developed dementia – 150 of whom were included in the group with the highest junk food intake.

After accounting for higher risk factors for dementia, such as age, gender and family medical history, the researchers found a 25% higher risk of dementia for every 10% jump in the consumption of ultra-processed foods. In contrast, those who reduced their junk food intake by 10% had a 19% lower risk of developing dementia.

The most common junk food among all participants was sugary drinks, followed by sweets and ultra-processed dairy, such as American cheese.

Small replacements in the diet can translate into big health benefits, Lee said — although kicking the habit can be difficult because researchers have previously speculated about the addictive properties in junk food.

“Our results also show that adding unprocessed or minimally processed foods leads to an increase of only 50 grams a day, which is equivalent to half an apple, a bowl of corn, or a bowl of bran cereal, as well as ultra- Reduction in processed foods by 50 grams per day is associated with a 3% lower risk of dementia, the equivalent of a serving of chocolate bar or fish sticks,” Lee said. “It is encouraging to learn that small and manageable changes in diet can make a difference in a person’s risk of dementia.”

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