New Research Shows That Eating Processed Foods Affects Cognitive Behavior

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By the conclusion of the study, 518 of the participants had been diagnosed with dementia. In addition, researchers found that 105 of 18,000 members of the lowest-consumption group were diagnosed with dementia, while diagnoses were doled out to 150 of 18,000 members of the highest-consumption group, per the news release.

Researchers determined that a 10% increase in daily intake of ultra-processed foods resulted in a 25% greater risk of dementia. They also found that reducing the daily intake of ultra-processed foods (in favor of unprocessed or minimally processed foods) by 10% resulted in a 19% lower risk of dementia.

“Our research not only found that ultra-processed foods are associated with an increased risk of dementia, it found replacing them with healthy options may decrease dementia risk,” Li shared in the press release. “Increasing unprocessed or minimally processed foods by only 50 grams a day, which is equivalent to half an apple, a serving of corn, or a bowl of bran cereal, and simultaneously decreasing ultra-processed foods by 50 grams a day … is associated with 3% decreased risk of dementia.” 

Although the researchers emphasized that further studies are needed to confirm a link between processed food and cognitive disorders, the initial data indicates that making small changes to one’s daily diet could lead to meaningful improvements in brain health. As Li notes, “It’s encouraging to know that small and manageable changes in diet may make a difference in a person’s risk of dementia.”

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