Eating more ultra-processed foods increases the risk of dementia

Summary: Eating a diet rich in ultra-processed foods such as chips, cookies, fried foods and salty snacks has been linked to an increased risk of dementia.

A source: AAN

People who eat the most ultra-processed foods like soft drinks, chips and cookies may have a higher risk of dementia than those who eat the least, according to a new study published on July 27, 2022. neurology.

The researchers also found that replacing ultra-processed foods in a person’s diet with unprocessed or minimally processed foods was associated with a reduced risk.

Research does not prove that ultra-processed foods cause dementia. It shows only one association.

Ultra-processed foods are high in sugar, fat, and salt, and low in protein and fiber. These include soft drinks, salty and sugary snacks, ice cream, sausage, fried chicken, yogurt, canned baked beans and tomatoes, ketchup, mayonnaise, packaged guacamole and hummus, packaged bread, and flavored cereals.

“Ultra-processed foods are supposed to be convenient and tasty, but they reduce the quality of human nutrition,” said study author Huiping Li, Ph.D., of Tianjin Medical University in China. “These foods may contain food additives or molecules that have been removed from packaging or produced during heating, all of which other studies have shown to have negative effects on thinking and memory.

“Our study not only found that ultra-processed foods are associated with an increased risk of dementia, but also found that replacing them with healthier choices may reduce the risk of dementia.”

For the study, researchers identified 72,083 people from the UK Biobank, a large database containing health information on half a million people living in the UK. Participants were age 55 and older and did not have dementia at the start of the study. They were followed for an average of 10 years. By the end of the study, 518 people had dementia.

During the study, participants filled out at least two questionnaires about what they drank and what they drank the previous day. The researchers calculated grams per day to make a percentage of their daily intake, and compared that to grams per day of other foods to determine how much ultra-processed food they ate. They then divided the participants into four equal groups, ranging from the lowest to the highest intake of ultra-processed foods.

On average, ultra-processed foods made up 9% of the daily diet for people in the lowest group, an average of 225 grams per day, compared to 28%, or an average of 814 grams per day, for people in the highest group. A serving of things like pizza or fish sticks was about 150 grams. Beverages were the main food group contributing to high consumption of ultra-processed foods, followed by sugary foods and ultra-processed dairy products.

Of the 18,021 people in the lowest group, 105 had dementia, and 150 of the 18,021 in the highest group.

After adjusting for age, gender, family history of dementia, and other factors that affect the risk of heart disease and dementia, the researchers found that for every 10% increase in daily intake of ultra-processed foods, people had a 25% higher risk of dementia. .

The researchers also used research data to estimate what would happen if a person replaced 10% of ultra-processed foods with unprocessed or minimally processed foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, greens, milk and meat. They found that this mutation was associated with 19% of dementia.

“Our results also show that increasing unprocessed or minimally processed foods by just 50 grams per day, which is equivalent to half an apple, a serving of corn or a cup of white cereal, while reducing ultra-processed foods by 50 grams per day. , the equivalent of a chocolate bar or fish stick, reduces the risk of dementia by 3%,” Lee said.

“It is encouraging to know that small and manageable changes in diet can alter a person’s risk of dementia.”

See also

This shows a plate of macroons
Ultra-processed foods are high in sugar, fat, and salt, and low in protein and fiber. Image is in the public domain

I noted that further studies are needed to confirm the results.

Maura E. Walker, PhD, of Boston University in Massachusetts, said in an editorial accompanying the study: “While nutrition research has begun to focus on food processing, the challenge is in classifying unprocessed, minimally processed, processed and ultra-processed foods. – enabled. For example, a food such as soup is classified differently if it is canned and homemade. In addition, the level of processing does not always correspond to the quality of the diet.

“High-quality plant-based burgers can also be ultra-processed. As we aim to better understand the complexities of dietary intake, we must consider that more high-quality dietary assessments may be required.

A limitation of the study is that cases of dementia were identified based on hospital records and death registries rather than primary care data, and milder cases may have been missed.

Funding: The research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

This is about diet and dementia research news

Author: Natalie Conrad
A source: AAN
The connection: Natalie Conrad – AAN
Photo: Image is in the public domain

Original research: Results will appear within neurology

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