Researchers examined 10,000 middle-aged and older adults and found that those who consumed over 20% of their calories from processed foods experienced a faster decline in cognitive performance.
Ultra-processed foods is a term we’re likely all familiar with: junk foods that have very little to no nutritional value. More specifically, the term refers to “industrial formulations of food substances (oils, fats, sugars, starch, and protein isolates) that contain little or no whole foods and typically include flavorings, colorings, emulsifiers, and other cosmetic additives,” according to a new study that found these foods are bad for our brains.
The study was presented at this week’s Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in San Diego and pointed out how these foods are linked to cognitive decline.
The results of the study are concerning since ultra-processed foods can be easily packaged and disguised as healthy, particularly since they’re convenient and can save a lot of time for people, including frozen meals, hot dogs, ice cream, breads, crackers, and more.
Researchers in Brazil examined 10,000 middle-aged and older adults and found that those who consumed over 20% of their calories from processed foods experienced a faster decline in cognitive performance. In America, where diets are made up of 58% ultra-processed foods, this is very concerning.
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Previous studies have linked ultra-processed foods with a variety of diseases, from obesity to cardiovascular disease. This new study focused on the food’s effect on the mind and found that inflammation was the culprit.
“That’s because they cause inflammation, which can affect neurotransmitters in the brain. Processed foods also operate on a micro level with billions and billions of bacteria cells that (impair) functioning,” Rafael Perez-Escamilla, professor of public health at Yale University, told USA Today.
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Ultra-processed foods are a serious problem in the US, being cheaper and easier to access than a large number of healthy, whole foods. They have longer shelf lives and are easier to cook, becoming a convenient option for people who don’t have the time to cook or are simply looking for cheaper options.
Still, it’s important for people to know this information on these types of foods, and to keep in mind that they take a toll in the long run, depriving you of years of health.