As you get older, your risk of developing dementia naturally increases. Although risk factors for dementia such as age and family history cannot be changed, your exercise, alcohol intake, and diet can. Watching what you drink and eat can play an important role in your brain functions. And to help reduce your risk of dementia.
Learning which foods are good or bad for your brain health sounds challenging. But a new study American Academy of Neurology the study makes it easier to understand what those foods are. The study, published on July 27, 2022, found Eating ultra-processed foods has been associated with an increased risk of dementia.
The study involved 72,083 participants aged 55 and up. The information was taken from the UK Biobank—a large database that contains health information on half a million people living in Britain. Participants did not have dementia at the start of the study. Study participants were followed for approximately 10 years. They also had to fill out at least two questionnaires about what they ate and drank the previous day. By the end of the study, 518 people had been diagnosed with dementia.
The researchers in the study determined how much ultra-processual food they ate by taking participants’ food intake questionnaires. They calculated this sum as a percentage of the food consumed per day. The participants were then divided into four equal groups, from the lowest percent of food consumed beyond the process to the highest.
The researchers considered factors that could affect the risk of dementia. This includes age, gender, family history of dementia and heart disease, and so on. After it has been established, the study is concluded in the middle; for every 10% increase in daily intake of ultra-processed food, people had a 25% higher risk of dementia. Some significantly increased intake of ultra-processed foods including beverages, sugary products, and ultra-processed dairy products.
In addition, the study showed an association between ultra-processed foods and the risk of dementia. Unfortunately, the risk of dementia is associated with replacing ultra-processed foods in a person’s diet with non-processed or minimally processed foods.
“Introducing processed foods beyond reducing them and replacing them with whole foods has various health benefits,” he suggests. Amy Shapiro, MS, RDand a member of our Medical Expert. “Including decreasing inflammation, the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and now dementia.”
Shapiro still suggests that processed foods taste great. However, they are often full of sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats, artificial sweeteners and other preservatives. These ingredients do not promote better health and wellness.
“Research in this area has the potential to encourage the conversation that food in all its forms can heal and promote health and wellness,” he says. “Any food types listed in this study did not include other ultra-processed foods that people think are healthy. Like veggie burgers, healthy chips, cereal, etc.”
But more research is needed, according to Shapiro. He also believes that individual diet histories and food journals will help us understand more about the role these foods play.
“Providing this information is very important,” says Shapiro. “But learning how to replace these with healthier foods that are accessible to everyone is also an important message to share.”
Kayla Garritano is a Staff Writer for Eat This, Not That! She graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and double minored in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more