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READ! Dementia risk may increase if you’re eating these foods…

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Ultra-processed foods such as frozen pizza and ready-to-eat meals make our busy lives much easier.

Besides, they are just darn tasty — who isn’t susceptible to hot dogs, sausages, burgers, french fries, sodas, cookies, cakes, candy, doughnuts and ice cream, to name just a few?

If more than 20 per cent of your daily calorie intake is ultra-processed foods, however, you may be raising your risk for cognitive decline, according to a new study.

That amount would equal about 400 calories a day in a 2,000-calories-a-day diet. For comparison, a small order of fries and regular cheeseburger from your popular eatery contains a total of 530 calories.

A study published in JAMA Neurology noted that the part of the brain involved in executive functioning — the ability to process information and make decisions — is especially hard hit.

As reported by Cable News Network, men and women in the study who ate the most ultra-processed foods had a 25 per cent faster rate of executive function decline and a 28 per cent faster rate of overall cognitive impairment compared with those who ate the least amount of overly processed food.

An expert in preventive and lifestyle medicine and nutrition, who was not involved in the study, Dr. David Katz, said, “While this is a study of association, not designed to prove cause and effect, there are a number or elements to fortify the proposition that some acceleration in cognitive decay may be attributed to ultra-processed foods.

“The sample size is substantial, and the follow-up extensive. While short of proof, this is robust enough that we should conclude ultra-processed foods are probably bad for our brains.”

“There was an interesting twist, however. If the quality of the overall diet was high — meaning the person also ate a lot of unprocessed, whole fruits and veggies, whole grains and healthy sources of protein — the association between ultra-processed foods and cognitive decline disappeared.

“Ultra-processed foods drag diet quality down, and thus their concentration in the diet is an indicator of poor diet quality in most cases,” Katz said. “Atypical as it seems, apparently some of the participants managed it. And when diet quality was high, the observed association between ultra-processed foods and brain function abated.”

The study followed over 10,000 Brazilians for up to 10 years. Just over half of the study participants were women, White or college educated, while the average age was 51.

Cognitive testing, which included immediate and delayed word recall, word recognition and verbal fluency, was performed at the beginning and end of the study, and participants were asked about their diet.

Co-author of the study, Dr. Claudia Suemoto, an assistant professor in the division of geriatrics at the University of São Paulo Medical School, told Cable Nes Network when the study abstract was released in August that, “In Brazil, ultra-processed foods make up 25 per cent to 30 per cent of total calorie intake. We have McDonald’s, Burger King, and we eat a lot of chocolate and white bread. It’s not very different, unfortunately, from many other Western countries.

“Fifty-eight percent of the calories consumed by United States citizens, 56.8 per cent of the calories consumed by British citizens, and 48 per cent of the calories consumed by Canadians come from ultra-processed foods.”

The study authors noted that the risk for dementia could be reduced with improved diet diet and boosting activity levels.

Ultra-processed foods are defined as “industrial formulations of food substances (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.

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