We all know that eating ultra-processed foods that make our lives easier — like soups, sauces, frozen pizza, and ready meals — aren’t good for our health. And we don’t swallow all the fun foods we love so much: hot dogs, hot dogs, burgers, French fries, sodas, cookies, cake, candy, donuts, and ice cream, to name a few.
Now, a new study has revealed that eating more ultra-processed foods may contribute to general cognitive decline, including areas of the brain involved in executive functions — the ability to process information and make decisions.
The study found that men and women who ate the most ultra-processed foods had a 28% faster rate of global cognitive decline and a 25% faster rate of executive function decline compared to people who ate the least amount of highly processed foods.
“While further study and replication is needed, the new findings are completely compelling and underscore the critical role of proper nutrition in maintaining and enhancing brain health and reducing the risk of brain disease as we age,” said Rudi Tanzi, professor of neuroscience at the Rudi Tanzi School of Medicine. Age”. Harvard Medical School and manager Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He did not participate in the study.
“At the same time, because it’s convenient as a quick meal, it also replaces eating foods rich in plant-based fiber that are important for keeping the trillions of bacteria in your gut microbiome healthy and balanced,” he added. Important for brain health and reducing the risk of age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. ”
There are not many calories
Cognitive tests, which included immediate and delayed word recall, word recognition and verbal fluency, were administered at the beginning and end of the study, and participants were asked about their diet.
“In Brazil, ultra-processed foods make up 25% to 30% of total calories. We have McDonald’s and Burger King and we eat a lot of chocolate and white bread. It’s not very different, unfortunately, than in many other Western countries,” co-author Dr. Claudia Soimoto, MD, associate professor of geriatrics at the University of São Paulo School of Medicine.
“Fifty-eight percent of the calories consumed by US citizens, 56.8% of the calories consumed by British citizens, and 48% of the calories consumed by Canadians come from ultra-processed foods,” Suemoto said.
Ultra-processed foods are defined as “artificial combinations of nutrients (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 the study.
“People who consumed more than 20% of their daily calories from processed foods had a 28% faster decline in global cognition and a 25% faster decline in executive functioning compared to people who ate less than 20%,” said study co-author Natalia Gonsalves. . researcher in the Department of Pathology at the University of São Paulo School of Medicine.
The study found that those study participants who ate the most ultra-processed foods were “more likely to be younger, women, whiter, have higher education and incomes, more likely to have never smoked, and less likely to be current alcohol consumers.” .
“People need to know they have to cook more and prepare their food from scratch. I know. We say we don’t have the time but it really doesn’t take much time,” Suemoto said.
“It’s worth it because you’ll protect your heart and protect your brain from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease,” she added. “This is the message to take home: Stop buying super stuff.”