New research has added another reason to ditch the processed snacks – according to a Brazilian study, these foods could be connected to quicker rates of cognitive decline.
It’s not just the choccies that are responsible, the researchers say instant noodles, premade and frozen meals, soft drinks and processed meats are complicit too. There are even a few of the major household staples caught up in this list:
- White bread.
- Crackers and biscuits.
- Processed dairy like cream cheese and cheese spreads.
- Hot dogs and salami.
Eating these foods regularly was shown to increase the risk of conditions like dementia, with those in the study who consumed at least 20% of their daily intake from processed goods seeing a greater decline in cognition when compared to those who kept to a more wholefood-centred diet. When considering that many of us are eating processed foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this study highlights a concerning issue that is only on the rise.
We know sugar-laden foods packed with unnecessary additives have been rapidly increasing over the decades, with research showing the widespread introduction of high-fructose corn syrup is one of the major causes of obesity, inflammation and a range of other conditions associated with cognitive decline.
What you can do about it.
Eat whole unprocessed foods.
Instead of pre-packaged meals, frozen foods and biscuits, opt for whole foods like fresh fruit and veggies, wholegrains like quinoa and amaranth and legumes. The goal is to have the least amount of ingredients as you possibly can, so if you must buy processed foods, pick the ones with a handful of ingredients.
Omega 3s and healthy fats.
Omega 3s are essential for brain health and reducing inflammation with a reduced intake of these nutrients linked with age-related cognitive decline, due to the crossover risk factors for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and high cholesterol, according to researchers. It’s pretty clear that these health conditions are all related, and there happens one way to fight them all – with diet. Saturated fats, sugars and alcohol consumption are all factors in these conditions, so keeping those to a limit while upping your omega 3s and other essential nutrients will play a massive role in keeping your brain sharper for longer. One study found a 60% decrease in risk for Alzheimer’s disease when consuming omega 3-rich fish on a regular basis.
To get your fix of omegas, make sure you drop some of the following in your trolley:
- Fish or fish oil.
- Algae oil.
- Plant-based sources of omegas include flaxseeds, hemp and chia seeds.
Oleic acid is another fatty acid that can prevent insulin resistance and reduce the risk for heart disease, according to studies. Healthy fats also keep us fuller for longer, especially those with medium chain triglycerides, which have been found to decrease appetite and curb sugar cravings – thus decreasing the risk factors for these inflammatory diseases which drive cognitive decline.
Avoid added sugars.
We know inflammation is a marker for cognitive decline and sugar just so happens to be one of the biggest culprits when it comes to causing inflammation. That’s why we recommend cutting this addictive, ubiquitous stuff out of your diet. It’s not easy considering you’ll find it in all manner of products, from cereals to breads and yoghurts – but it is possible.
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