Packaged, ultra-processed foods are convenient and tasty. They’re handy to have around the house for the grandkids or for snacking. But they’re not good for us – not for our bodies OR our brains.
We’re talking hot dogs, burgers, sausages, cookies, cakes, doughnuts and the like. You already know they contribute to obesity and other negative physical effects.
Now a new study says people who eat too much of them have a higher risk of cognitive decline – just 20% of the daily recommended caloric intake. That’s about 400 calories if you’re aiming to consume 2,000 calories a day.
The study published in JAMA Neurology found that people who ate that much junk had a 25% faster rate of executive function decline and a 28% faster rate of overall cognitive impairment compared with those who ate the least amount of overly processed food. Executive function is the ability to process information and make decision.
Interestingly, the study also found that eating an overall healthy diet erases the negative effects of the processed foods. That means fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole foods, etc.
The study looked at the habits and health of 10,000 people in Brazil for a decade; their average age was 51.
In Brazil, ultra-processed foods make up 25% to 30% of caloric intake, researchers said. But it’s 58% in the United States, 57% in the United Kingdom, and 48% in Canada.
These foods also raise the risk of obesity, heart health, diabetes, and early death.
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.