Beware: Ultra-Processed Foods Can Cause Dementia And Cognitive Impairment

Beware: Ultra-Processed Foods Can Cause Dementia And Cognitive Impairment

The convenience of ultra-processed foods like frozen pizza and ready-to-eat meals is greatly appreciated in our hectic daily life. However, a new study indicated that eating more than 20% of your calories from ultra-processed meals may increase your risk for cognitive impairment.

On a daily calorie intake of 2,000, that would amount to around 400 calories. When compared, the combined calorie count of a small order of McDonald’s fries with a normal cheeseburger is 530. The study was published in JAMA Neurology on Monday and found that the ability to absorb information and make decisions (executive functioning) was particularly affected.

The study found that both men and women who consumed the highest quantities of ultra-processed meals experienced a 25% quicker decline in executive function and a 28% quicker decline in total cognitive ability than those who consumed the lowest quantities. On the other hand, there was a surprising turn of events. The link between ultra-processed meals and mental deterioration disappeared when they also ate a high-quality, varied diet that included enough of fresh, unprocessed produce, complete grains, and lean proteins.

Most of the time, a high concentration of ultra-processed foods in the diet is a sign of low dietary quality because of the negative impact these foods have on the diet overall. Despite how unlikely it may sound, it appears that at least some of the participants were successful. As diet quality increased, the negative correlation between ultra-processed meals and cognitive performance weakened.

The study tracked participants for 10 years.

More than 10,000 Brazilians were tracked for up to a decade. The average age of the research participants was 51, and little over half were women. Dietary questions were answered at the beginning and conclusion of the trial, and subjects underwent cognitive testing.

Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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