Study: If 20% of your diet is these foods, you’re at risk of faster cognitive decline


Numerous studies have linked the consumption of ultraprocessed foods with a greater risk of inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, obesity and early death.

Now a new study finds these ready-to-eat foods can lead to greater risk of cognitive decline as we age. And you don’t have to eat much to be affected.

According to the study, the amount would be about 20% of the 2,000 calories recommended daily. As CNN determined, that equals a regular McDonald’s cheeseburger and small fries, which is 530 calories.

It isn’t just fast food you have to watch out for, however. A study published last year determined more than 73% of the U.S. food supply is ultraprocessed.

The most recent study involved 10,775 participants in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health. Compared to people who ate the least amount of ultraprocessed foods, those who consumed the most experienced a 28% faster rate of global cognitive decline and a 25% faster rate of executive function decline.

“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 ultraprocessed foods,” Dr. David Katz, a specialist in preventive and lifestyle medicine and nutrition, told CNN. Katz was not involved in the study.

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

The study was published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

Journal information:
Archives of Neurology

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