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Sunday 14 August 2022

'Ultra-processed food and cognitive function'

Study suggests ultra-processed food can affect our brain health.

Ultra-processed foods make up 'two-thirds of calories consumed by children and teens'
Experts from Tufts University in Massachusetts studied two decades of dietary data to 2018 and found that the amount of calories young people consumed from ultra-processed foods jumped from 61 per cent to 67 per cent.
  • More and more people worldwide are consuming ultra-processed food.
  • Research, however, shows it can have concerning effects on our health, including our cognitive function.
  • Minimally processed foods, such as in the Mediterranean diet, are highly beneficial for health and longevity.
Globally, more and more people are receiving their total energy intake from ultra-processed foods. In South Africa, nearly 80% of packaged foods in our supermarkets are ultra-processed, a recent study revealed.

From breakfast cereals to mass-produced bread, biscuits, ice cream, sausages, crisps, chocolates, soft drinks, flavoured yoghurts, processed meats and frozen foods (such as pre-packaged pizzas and pies), ultra-processed foods are everywhere.

As explained by a nutritionist at Harvard University, unprocessed or minimally processed foods (in their natural, or nearly natural state) have their vitamins and nutrients intact. Ultra-processed foods, on the other hand, have numerous added ingredients, including artificial colourants, preservatives, sugar, salt, and fat.

The average individual may find reading food labels tricky and time-consuming, so they never really know what’s in the foods they are consuming. A 2018 survey found that only about a third of South Africans regularly read food labels.

But we should pay more attention to these labels as ultra-processed foods can negatively impact cognitive functions, according to a new study.

The study

The research, which appears in the European Journal of Nutrition, highlights how consuming these foods can negatively impact the cognitive performance of older adults.

Just over 2 700 participants aged 60 and older (54% females) were involved in the study and underwent cognitive assessments.

The participants were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – using a combination of interviews and physical examinations to track the health and nutritional status of the Australian population – from 2011 to 2014.

All participants were asked to recall the type and amount of food and beverages they ate in 24 hours on two non-consecutive days.

Mindful Eating Practices To Ease Indigestion and Bloating
According to Elizabeth Arensberg, MS, RD, LDN, who specializes in gut health, the way you eat can affect how your body processes food.

Potential effects

One of the tests used by the research team, from Monash University in Melbourne, focused on Alzheimer’s disease.

Unfortunately, their analysis revealed eating ultra-processed foods was linked to worse performances in participants who didn’t have any pre-existing diseases.

To the researchers’ knowledge, this is the first study to analyse the association between cognitive performance and ultra-processed food consumption in older adults.

But this may be offset if switching to a healthier diet, such as the Mediterranean diet. Research over the years, such as this study, shows that this diet, typically high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, seafood and unsaturated fats such as olive oil, is associated with a reduced risk for dementia as well as cognitive decline.

The authors noted some limitations in their work, including the cross-sectional nature of the study, which means that the results do not present a cause-and-effect relationship.

However, while longitudinal studies are needed to provide stronger evidence, “these results suggest that decreasing [ultra-processed food] consumption may be a way to mitigate age-associated cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia”, the team concluded. 

Words above/more to read here
h/t Marks Daily Apple Site here

image from here

This blog brings a variety of articles, studies and recipe ideas, and it is important to note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use a reliable meter. If you have any concerns about your health it is always advisable to consult your Doctor or health care team.

All the best Jan


Tom said...

...this is not good news.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Very important study I hope folks pay attention to.
Recently I've been transitioning to a Mediterranean diet.

William Kendall said...

Very informative.

Christine said...

Good information thanks.

Divers and Sundry said...

We need to better regulate our foods. We could do better.

eileeninmd said...

Great information and post. I try to stay away from the processed foods.
Take care, enjoy your day and new week ahead.

happyone said...

We all know we should eat better, but sadly many just don't it!

Maria Rodrigues said...

An excellent and enlightening text.
Here we are always learning to maintain good health.
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs and all the best

Giorgio said...

I always try to avoid processed food like refined grains, rice cakes, chips, etc.
Thank you for sharing the research afforded by the Melbourne Monash University's team :-)
Great post!

I've just had at dinner the Italian Omelette which you mentioned some days ago :-)

Have a nice week!

Mary Kirkland said...

Good info. I didn't know this.

Elephant's Child said...

Scary stuff. There is so much processed food about - despite the fact that largely unprocessed food tastes better.

Practical Parsimony said...

For the last two decades, I have noticed I feel not so smart or in control when I eat junk or even healthy processed food. I know, an oxymoron. The feel the most alert, I have to eat unprocessed food. If I had a bad day eating, I am sluggish mentally and physically.

DVArtist said...

Great post. I wish everyone could read it. Have a nice evening.

CherryPie said...

I wonder if reducing the intake of these ultra processed foods in those who already have altimeters would slow or even reverse the cognitive decline.

DUTA said...

Most people know about the impact of processed food on health, but prefer to ignore the facts.
Just as they will not give up the cars that pollute the environment and cause accidents,they won't give up eating out, buying pizza, getting overweight and sick.
Your post is a good reminder and eye-opener!

J.P. Alexander said...

Hay que tenr cuidado en lo que se come. Te mando un be4so.

roughterrain crane said...

Thanks for the precious information.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I try not to buy or eat too much processed food. I have to admit we like a donut now and then as a treat for breakfast, but most of the time we try to eat healthily. I prepare a lot of fresh vegetables daily and we have fresh fruit for dessert.

Margaret D said...

Oh dear...not good but good to read Jan.

Jo said...

An interesting article. Fresh, cooked from scratch food, is always better than processed.

Conniecrafter said...

I know when we have "treats" they don't end up being a treat but make you feel sluggish and tired. It is such a shame they are so convenient for families to have.

R's Rue said...

Good to read

Sue said...

We really try to eat healthily the majority of the time. Being retired certainly helps as we have more time to prep our food x

Ananka said...

This is interesting. I personally think out food standards here in the UK are shocking!

Teresa said...

Interesante estudio. Gracias y besos.

baili said...

When I see my kids eating fast-food fondly I feel sad for them and feel thankful for that when I was little there was no such abundance of harmful foods and all we would eat pakory and samosas twice to thrice in a week. Thank you for informative sharing my friend. Blessings

Phil Slade said...

The results of that study and its implications are quite frightening. On the other hand it is not totally surprising when looking at some trolleys loaded with so much junk and processed food. But you can lead a horse to water but not make it drink and its all down to free choice. We should not mollycoddle people when there is so much good advice everywhere, including on this blog.