Although it is obvious that if you eat only junk food on a daily basis, which can be delicious, such as hamburgers or ice cream, that will lead you to a totally harmful physical life. More so, one new research reveals that ultra-processed foods can also cause a significant decline in brain function.
The research, presented Monday in San Diego, at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, described how foods like instant noodles, sugary drinks and frozen meals play a factor in a faster rate of cognitive decline, details The Washington Post.
“It is no secret that physical and mental-cognitive health are intimately related to each other, so it is not surprising that this latest research also suggests brain deterioration,” said Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, a professor of public health at Yale University. .
“Just 100 calories from processed foods can affect physical health. So, it’s two cookies.”
Research has linked the consumption of ultra-processed foods with health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. “And now, we are beginning to realize that they also affect the mind,” Pérez-Escamilla said. “That’s because they cause inflammation, which can affect neurotransmitters in the brain. Processed foods also operate at the micro level with billions and billions of bacterial cells that (impair) the functioning.
The researchers presented findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference from a study, not yet peer-reviewed, in Brazil that examined the diets and cognition of 10,000 middle-aged and older adults.
The findings found that participants who got 20% or more of their daily calories from ultra-processed foods experienced a much faster decline in cognitive performance over six to 10 years compared with people on diets containing few processed foods.
“It is a solid study and the evidence is very consistent with what has been observed with ultra-processed foods over time,” said Pérez-Escamilla, who was not involved in the study.
Processed foods require little preparation and are often easy to eat because they usually don’t make you feel full such as when eating whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, potatoes, eggs, shellfish, or meat, Perez Escamilla scored. And a wide range of ultra-processed foods can be disguised or even promoted as healthy.
Previous studies on ultra-processed foods have indicated signs of cognitive decline earlier, that is, with an increased risk of dementia. A study published last week found that for every 10% increase in daily intake of ultra-processed foods, people in the UK had a 25% increased risk of developing dementia.
“Ultra-processed foods are a problem not only later in life, but they start early in life in the preschool period,” Pérez-Escamilla said. “That’s when kids develop a taste or preference for ultra-processed foods that determines future risk.”
What is processed food?
Processed foods are items with very few whole ingredients and often contain flavorings, colors or other additives. On the list I would include bread, crackers, cookies, fried snacks, cream cheese, ice cream, candy, soft drinks, and hot dogs. Frozen meals are also at the forefront of processed foods.
Studies of the American diet reveal that 58% of calories are consumed through processed foods in the US, according to a 2016 peer-reviewed study.
Claudia Suemoto, an author of the study on cognitive decline and an assistant professor of geriatrics at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine, said it’s essential to look at more than just counting calories when considering both the mind and the body.
“Regardless of the number of calories, regardless of how many healthy foods you’re trying to eat, ultra-processed foods are not good for your cognition,” Suemoto told NBC News. “I know sometimes it’s easier to open a package and put it in the microwave, but in the long run it’s going to cost you a few years of life.”
Dr. Cate Shanahan, expert in food toxicology and author of “Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food,” he describes fried foods in restaurants as “the worst of the worst” and noted that French fries have become one of the most fattening foods.
“If you try to Google processed foods for a definition, there are different types of answers,” Shanahan said. “Processed foods are really just foods that have unhealthy ingredients present in large amounts. It could be processed carbohydrates like flour and sugar, protein powders. Seed oils are the absolute worst thing in the food supply. We call them the eight unhealthy oils: corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, (grapeseed) oil, and rice bran oil.”
Shanahan pointed out that there are still solutions to maintaining a healthy diet: “Vegetables can also be expensive and highly perishable. Dairy, eggs, and ground beef can work as highly nutritious foods for someone struggling to make money. Our bodies need quality protein, and there are multiple ways to get it.” (YO)