Are 'super-processed foods' such as junk food and sweets involved in cognitive decline?
Ultra-processed food ' is a term that refers to industrially produced food that contains a lot of salt, sugar, fat, additives, etc. Soft drinks, snacks, junk food, retort food, etc. . Sarah Burke , an associate professor of neuroscience at the University of Florida, explains that multiple research results have been reported that suggest a relationship between the intake of such ultra-processed foods and the decline in cognitive function.
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Ultra-processed foods – like cookies, chips, frozen meals and fast food – may contribute to cognitive decline
Burke points out that ultra-processed foods tend to be lower in nutrients and fiber and higher in sugar, salt and fat than unprocessed or less processed foods. Examples of ultra-processed foods include commercially available sodas, snack foods, frozen foods, alcoholic beverages, and fast foods. It is considered an ultra-processed food because it contains many additives and preservatives.
In order to distinguish whether a particular food is an ultra-processed food, Mr. Burke says that it is good to consider `` whether all the ingredients listed in the raw material name are available in a general household kitchen ''. For example, preservatives, flavors, and artificial sweeteners are not present in most households, and foods containing these can often be considered ultra-processed. On the other hand, foods such as canned vegetables, dried pasta, frozen fruits, etc. are certainly processed by human hands, but they are not called ultra-processed foods because many of the characteristics of natural foods remain.
NOVA classification , which determines whether food is ultra-processed based on the type and degree of processing, ``lack of a clear definition of food processing.'' matter.
In a study published in December 2022, more than 10,000 subjects living in Brazil reported ``what kind of food they ate in the past 12 months,'' and then evaluated their cognitive function over the next eight years. bottom. The results showed that those who ate more ultra-processed foods at the start of the study had slightly worse cognitive function than those who ate less ultra-processed foods. However, this difference is slight between the experimental groups, and it is not clear to what extent the mass consumption of ultra-processed foods affects the individual level.
Another study published in July 2022 investigated the association between eating ultra-processed foods and dementia among 72,000 people living in the UK. In the ultra-processed food group, 1 in 120 people were diagnosed with dementia over the 10-year study period, compared to 1 in 170 in the ultra-processed food group. it was a percentage.
These research results suggest that the intake of ultra-processed foods may adversely affect cognitive function, but it should be noted that only a correlation was found. In addition, some nutritionists have criticized the
To make matters worse, ultra-processed foods are generally low in fiber and other nutrients and tend to be high in sugar, salt and fat, so it is the processing that poses a potential health risk. The point is that there is still the possibility that it is a nutritional component, not the presence or absence. Burke says that further research is needed to clarify the effects of individual foods on the human body, and expectations are high for experiments targeting rats.
Mediterranean diet or the ketogenic diet , can preserve brain function. The Mediterranean diet is rich in plant-based foods and nuts, and the ketogenic diet, which refrains from carbohydrate intake, is also characterized by the fact that the main dietary fiber is vegetables, and both are low in sugar intake.
Although the relationship between ultra-processed foods and cognitive function is unclear, some studies have shown that switching to a healthier diet, such as the
Burke argues that these diets may help improve cognitive function by reducing harmful inflammation. Although inflammation is a normal response to injury and bacterial infection, chronic inflammation is suspected to have detrimental effects on the brain, and excess sugar and fat may contribute to chronic inflammation. matter.
The Mediterranean and ketogenic diets have also been shown to alter the humangut microbiota , affecting the bidirectional association between the gut and the brain ( brain-gut association ) to affect cognitive function. It is possible that it could bring about improvement.