As you age, your risk of developing dementia naturally increases. Although risk factors for dementia, such as age and family history, cannot be changed, exercise, alcohol consumption, and diet can be changed. Watching what you drink and eat can play an important role in how your brain functions. And, it can help lower your risk of dementia.
Figuring out which foods are good or bad for your brain health can seem like a challenge. However, a new study American Academy of Neurology The study is facilitating the exact identification of what those foods are. The study, published on July 27, 2022, found that eating ultra-processed foods is associated with an increased risk of dementia.
The study involved 72,083 participants ages 55 and older. The information was taken from the UK Biobank, a large database containing health information on half a million people living in the UK. The participants did not have dementia at the start of the study. The study followed the participants for about 10 years. They also had to fill out at least two questionnaires about what they ate and drank the day before. At the end of the study, 518 people had been diagnosed with dementia.
The study researchers determined how much ultra-processed food the participants ate based on food intake questionnaires. They calculated this as a percentage of the total amount of food consumed per day. Participants were then divided into four equal groups, ranging from the lowest percentage of ultra-processed food consumption to the highest.
The researchers took into consideration factors that might affect dementia risk. These included age, gender, family history of dementia and heart disease, and others. Once determined, the study concluded that, on average, For every 10% increase in daily intake of ultra-processed foods, people had a 25% increased risk of dementia. Some of the significantly high intakes of ultra-processed foods worth mentioning include beverages, sugary products, and ultra-processed dairy.
Furthermore, the study shows an association between ultra-processed foods and the risk of dementia. A lower risk of dementia was associated with replacing ultra-processed foods in a person’s diet with unprocessed or minimally processed foods.
“Decreasing your intake of ultra-processed foods and replacing them with whole foods has a variety of health benefits,” he suggests. Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, and member of our Council of Medical Experts. “Including decreased inflammation, risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and now dementia.”
Shapiro further suggests that processed foods can taste great. However, they are often full of sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats, preservatives, and other chemicals. These ingredients do not promote optimal health and wellness.
“Research in this area is powerful as it fuels the conversation that foods in their whole form can heal and promote health and wellness,” she says. “However, the types of food reviewed in this study did not include other ultra-processed foods that people consider healthy. Such as veggie burgers, healthy fries, cereals, etc.”
However, we need more research, according to Shapiro. He also believes that detailed dietary histories and food diaries will help to better understand the role these foods play.
“Providing this information is important,” says Shapiro. “But educating about how to replace these foods with healthier ones that are accessible to everyone is also an important message to share.”
Kayla Garritano is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That! She is a graduate of Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and double majored in Marketing and Creative Writing. read more