Scientists in Brazil have been investigating whether eating a lot of processed foods could lead to cognitive decline, or a decline in brain function, in adults.
They conducted a study that involved more than 10,000 public servants aged between 35 and 74 years old from six different Brazilian cities.
The participants were asked about their diets and then tested for cognitive function over a period of up to 10 years.
The scientists found that consuming high amounts of ultra-processed foods, which contain additives and artificial ingredients, is linked to a faster rate of cognitive decline compared to those who consume less.
This decline was seen in both overall cognitive function and executive function, which is the ability to plan and carry out tasks.
The study also found that people who ate more ultra-processed foods tended to be younger and have a lower income and education level than those who ate less.
This suggests that people from less privileged backgrounds may be more at risk of cognitive decline due to their diets.
These findings are important because previous studies have linked ultra-processed food consumption to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and other health problems.
Now we know that these foods could also have negative effects on our brain function.
So it’s a good idea to limit our consumption of ultra-processed foods and focus on eating fresh, whole foods instead. This can help us stay healthy both physically and mentally.
What to eat to prevent cognitive decline
Cognitive decline refers to a gradual decrease in cognitive abilities or brain function over time.
This decline can affect various aspects of a person’s thinking, including memory, attention, reasoning, and problem-solving abilities.
It can make it harder for people to perform everyday tasks and can lead to a decrease in overall quality of life.
Cognitive decline can be a normal part of aging, but it can also be a symptom of underlying health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.
It can also be caused by other factors, such as chronic stress, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and sleep deprivation.
It’s important to note that not everyone experiences cognitive decline as they age, and there are things people can do to help prevent or slow it down.
This includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle, staying socially active, and engaging in activities challenging the brain, such as learning a new skill or language.
There are several foods that have been linked to better brain health and may help prevent cognitive decline. Here are some examples:
Fatty fish: Fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to better brain function and a reduced risk of cognitive decline.
Leafy greens: Vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli are high in nutrients like vitamin K and folate, which have been linked to better cognitive function.
Berries: Berries like blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are high in antioxidants that may help protect the brain from damage and inflammation.
Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are a good source of vitamin E, which has been linked to better cognitive function in older adults.
Whole grains: Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat bread are good sources of complex carbohydrates, which provide energy for the brain and may help prevent cognitive decline.
In addition to these foods, it’s also essential to maintain a healthy diet overall.
This means eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources while limiting processed and sugary foods. Staying hydrated and getting regular exercise are also important for brain health.
The research was published in JAMA Neurology and was conducted by Natalia Gomes Gonçalves et al.
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