Cakes, crisps… These ultra-processed foods that promote dementia

A new study shows how ultra-processed foods can lead to a significant decline in brain function.

By Johanna Amselem

This study defines ultra-processed foods as “industrial formulations of food substances that contain little or no whole food”.

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VAre you easily tempted by a pizza or a hamburger that is sold ready to eat? Do you fall for a few chips as an aperitif and snack biscuits bought in the supermarket? If these ultra-processed foods save you time in the kitchen, they might just be affecting your cognitive health.

According to a new study presented when Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2022, if more than 20% of your daily calorie intake comes from processed foods, you increase your risk of cognitive decline. In fact, the authors of this study found that the area of ​​the brain involved in the ability to make decisions is particularly affected over a period of six to ten years. Other studies have already confirmed the impact of ultra-processed foods on health with an increase in heart problems, diabetes, risk of obesity, etc. These results were published in JAMA Neurology.

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Impaired executive functions

What are ultra-processed foods? According to the study, these are industrial preparations of food substances (oils, fats, sugars) that contain few (or no) whole foods and generally flavourings, colourings, emulsifiers etc.

In detail, the heaviest eaters of ultra-processed foods had a 25% faster decline in executive functions and a 28% faster rate of overall cognitive impairment than those who ate the least processed foods, reports CNN. Specifically, the researchers followed more than 10,000 Brazilians for ten years. “88% of calories consumed by US citizens, 56.8% of calories consumed by UK citizens and 48% of calories consumed by Canadians come from ultra-processed foods,” says Dr. Claudia Suemoto, assistant professor in the geriatrics department of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of São Paulo and interviewed by CNN.

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“brain deficiency”

An increase in the availability and consumption of fast, processed and ultra-processed foods is due to a number of socioeconomic factors, including poor access to healthy foods, less time to prepare foods from scratch, and the inability to afford whole foods. »highlighted Percy Griffin, director of science engagement for the Alzheimer’s Association.

“It’s no secret that physical and mental and cognitive health are closely related, so it’s no surprise that this latest research also suggests brain impairment,” said Rafael Perez.-Escamilla, professor of public health at Yale University. Before warning: “Just 100 calories of processed foods can affect your physical health. So that’s two cookies.”

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To take care of your brain, Dr Claudia Suemoto therefore encourages you to cook: People need to know that they need to cook more and prepare their own food from basic products. And it’s worth it because you want to protect your heart and protect your brain from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This is the take home message: stop buying things that are super processed

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