Ultraprocessed Foods Detrimental for the Brain


More research suggests that eating a diet high in ultraprocessed foods (UPFs) is harmful for the aging brain.

Results from the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil), which included participants aged 35 and older, showed that higher intake of UPF was significantly associated with a faster rate of decline in both executive and global cognitive function.

UPFs are highly manipulated, are packed with added ingredients, including sugar, fat, and salt, and are low in protein and fiber. Examples of UPFs include soft drinks, chips, chocolate, candy, ice cream, sweetened breakfast cereals, packaged soups, chicken nuggets, hotdogs, fries, and many more.

They are thought to induce systemic inflammation and oxidative stress and have been linked to a variety of ailments, such as overweight/obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

UPFs may also be a risk factor for cognitive decline.

In this study, during a median follow-up of 8 years, UPF intake in quartiles 2 to 4 (vs quartile 1) was associated with a significant decline in global cognition (P = .003) and executive function (P = .015).

Participants who reported consumption of more than 20% of daily calories from ultraprocessed foods had a 28% faster rate of global cognitive decline and a 25% faster decrease of the executive function compared to those who reported eating less than 20% of daily calories from ultraprocessed foods.

These new data from the Alzheimer's Association International Conference suggest eating a large amount of ultraprocessed food can significantly accelerate cognitive decline.