Diets Heavy in 'Ultra-Processed' Foods Could Harm the Brain

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By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 28, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Eating tons of ultra-processed foods whitethorn dramatically summation your hazard for dementia, according to a caller survey by researchers successful China.

Ultra-processed foods are precocious successful sugar, fat and salt, but debased successful protein and fiber. Sodas, salty and sugary snacks and desserts, ice cream, sausage, deep-fried chicken, flavored yogurt, ketchup, mayonnaise, packaged bread and flavored cereals are each examples.

Replacing these foods with healthier alternatives whitethorn little the likelihood for dementia by 19%, the study found.

"These results mean that it is important to pass consumers astir these associations, instrumentality actions targeting merchandise reformulation, and pass to bounds the proportionality of ultra-processed foods successful the fare and [instead] beforehand the depletion of unprocessed oregon minimally processed foods similar caller vegetables and fruits instead," said pb researcher Huiping Li, from the School of Public Health astatine Tianjin Medical University.

This survey doesn't beryllium that eating ultra-processed foods increases the hazard of dementia, lone that determination seems to beryllium a link.

Dr. Sam Gandy, manager of the Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health successful New York City, reviewed the findings.

"This is accordant with the increasing assemblage of grounds indicating that a heart-healthy fare and manner is the champion mode for everyone to modulate their hazard for dementia," Gandy said. "The main novelty present is the absorption connected the risks of ultra-processed foods alternatively than connected the benefits of heart-healthy foods."

For the study, Li's squad collected information connected much than 72,000 radical listed successful the UK Biobank, a ample database of wellness accusation of radical successful the United Kingdom. At the outset, participants were property 55 and older and nary had dementia. Over an mean 10 years, 518 radical developed dementia.

Researchers compared 18,000 radical whose diets included small processed nutrient with a similar fig who ate a batch of it.

Among participants who ate the slightest magnitude of processed foods (about 8 ounces a day), 100 developed dementia, compared to 150 of those who ate the astir (about 28-29 ounces a day). The survey considered 1 serving size of pizza oregon fish sticks to beryllium conscionable implicit 5 ounces.

Drinks, sugary products and ultra-processed dairy were the main contributors to ultra-processed nutrient intake.

Li's radical estimated that substituting 10% of ultra-processed foods with unprocessed oregon minimally processed foods specified arsenic caller fruit, vegetables, legumes, beverage and meat, could little dementia (but not Alzheimer's) hazard by 19%.

Li said casual changes successful nutrient choices tin marque a large difference.

"The tiny and manageable dietary changes, specified arsenic expanding the magnitude of unprocessed oregon minimally processed foods by lone 2 ounces a time [about fractional an apple, a serving of corn, oregon a vessel of bran cereal], and simultaneously decreasing ultra-processed foods intake by 2 ounces a time [about a chocolate barroom oregon a serving of bacon], whitethorn beryllium associated with 3% decreased hazard of dementia," Li said.

Samantha Heller, a elder objective nutritionist astatine NYU Langone Health successful New York City, said it's agelong been known that ultra-processed foods summation the likelihood of processing respective chronic conditions. They see bosom disease, definite cancers, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

"While the nonstop origin is unknown, it is not astonishing that this benignant of dietary signifier is associated with an accrued hazard of dementia," she said. "Ultra-processed foods are some biochemically designed and advertised to summation cravings and tendency for these foods, and successful galore households assemblage retired healthier options specified arsenic fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains."

The mediocre nutrient prime of ultra-processed foods -- which are precocious successful salt, sweetener and saturated fat, and debased successful fibre -- is simply a look for mediocre wellness some physically and mentally, Heller said.

"Dodging dementia is different large crushed to commencement incorporating much works foods, little ultra-processed foods and carnal foods, into our diets," she said.

Switches tin beryllium arsenic casual arsenic replacing sugary cereal with a whole-grain cereal similar shredded wheat oregon oatmeal, oregon topping pizza with crockery oregon mushrooms and spinach, alternatively of pepperoni and sausage, Heller said.

Or, she suggested, effort falafel successful a full wheat pita with chopped tomatoes and cucumbers alternatively of a ham sandwich, oregon lentil crockery and a broadside crockery alternatively of a cheeseburger.

"Every repast is an accidental to marque a steadfast choice," Heller said.

Keeping the room stocked with steadfast foods, similar canned oregon dried beans, full grains similar quinoa oregon brownish rice, peanut oregon almond butter, way premix and frozen vegetables, makes it easier to propulsion unneurotic meals that are affluent successful fibre and nutrients, she said.

"Learning caller ways of nutrient prep and repast ideas mightiness consciousness daunting astatine archetypal but determination are tons of escaped recipes and resources online to crook to for guidance," Heller said. "Anecdotally, I person recovered that with my patients, erstwhile they commencement eating little ultra-processed foods and much caller foods, the cravings and sensation for the ultra-processed foods decreases, sometimes to the constituent wherever that bacon, ovum and food meal sandwich doesn't adjacent sensation bully anymore."

The findings were published online July 27 successful the diary Neurology .

In a companion editorial, Boston University researchers Maura Walker and Nicole Spartano questioned the study's explanation of ultra-processed foods. They pointed retired that mentation methods tin impact the nutritional worth of foods, and said that further survey that is not babelike connected participants' self-reported eating habits would beryllium beneficial.

"As we purpose to recognize amended the complexities of dietary intake [processing, timing, mixed meals] we indispensable besides see that investments successful much high-quality dietary appraisal whitethorn beryllium required," they wrote.

More information

For much connected fare and dementia, spell to the U.S. National Institute connected Aging.

SOURCES: Huiping Li, PhD, School of Public Health, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China; Sam Gandy, MD, PhD, director, Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health, New York City; Samantha Heller, MS, RD, CDN, elder objective nutritionist, NYU Langone Health, New York City; Neurology, July 27, 2022, online