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  • Writer's pictureDr. Norm Dawson

Fast Food Linked to Increased Dementia Risk

Oh No! Not another modifiable risk factor for dementia!

Dementia is on the rise expecting to double in the next 30 years if we don’t do something about it. There is no drug that works and therefore no cure.

But if we can understand the underlying causes for poor brain and body health we might be able to reduce or even eliminate the risk.

A new study suggests that a diet high in ultraprocessed foods (UPFs) is linked to an increased risk for dementia.

For every 10% increase in consumption of a UPFs diet there is increase in the risk of developing dementia by 25%. These foods are quick and tasty but reduce the quality of a person’s diet. The good news is when UPFs are replaced the risk is lowered.

The lead author of the study, Fast Food Linked to Increased Dementia Risk, Li, PhD, says, “These foods may also contain food additives or molecules from packaging or produced during heating, all of which have been shown in other studies to have negative effects on thinking and memory skills”. Think inflammation as negative effects.

The findings were published online July 27 in Neurology.

The authors noted, “UPFs are high in sugar, fat, and salt and low in protein and fiber. They include soft drinks, salty and sugary snacks, ice cream, sausage, deep-fried chicken, yogurt, canned baked beans and tomatoes, ketchup, mayonnaise, packaged guacamole and hummus, packaged breads, and flavored cereals.”

Yikes! There goes all my fun foods.

I have known for years that there is a link between degenerative diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, lung conditions and all-cause mortality. The common denominator with this link is inflammation or oxidative stress.

The authors of a study in Nephrology wanted to test to see if there was an association with dementia. The researchers identified 72,083 people for their database. All were free of dementia at baseline. Overall the participants in the study were older men, slept more, had lower physical activities, a family history for dementia, cardiovascular disease and lower cognitive function.

The mean age of the participants was 61.6 years.

Over 10 years they tracked the participants UPFs.

They found that “those with higher UPF (emphasis added) consumption tended to be younger, White, never-smokers, and never-drinkers. They also had higher body mass index and higher total energy intake…”. They also had lower levels of exercise and education.

And the worst UPF culprits were, guess what, soft drinks and sodas as the main food group at 34%!

The researchers also found that when UPFs where substituted with minimally processed foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, milk and meat the risk decreased when consumed on a daily basis.

They also concluded that small and manageable changes in the diet could make a difference in a person’s risk of dementia.

Better Diet Tools Needed

In an accompanying editorial, in Neurology, Maura E. Walker, PhD, Boston University, Massachusetts, and Nicole L. Santorino, PhD, note the need for better dietary assessments.

My simple recommendation for Eating on the Go is in this link. A little prep goes a long way along with understanding how to eat healthy. And possibly live long and die short!

CONTACT ME for more information on how to reduce the risk of dementia with 12 lifestyle factors.


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