Ultra-Processed Foods May Impair Cognition in Elderly

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Processed or ultra-processed?

An article earlier this 12 months in the European Journal of Nutrition reported that high consumption of ultra-processed meals is linked to worse-than-average efficiency on one explicit check of cognitive perform in older U.S. adults (60+ years-old) who didn’t have persistent ailments similar to diabetes or heart problems. The explicit check was “Animal Fluency.” Never heard of it? Me both. Keep studying.

The examine included 2,700 members, common age 69. Participants have been asked to recall what they ate in the prior 24 hours. Foods have been “classified according to NOVA, a food classification based on the extent and purpose of industrial food processing, into four mutually exclusive groups: (1) unprocessed or minimally processed foods, (2) processed culinary ingredients, (3) processed foods, and (4) UPFs [ultra-processed foods].”

Ultra-processed meals? “…most foods described as “Frozen meals” or “Lunchables”, in addition to some gadgets described as consumed in “Restaurant fast food/pizza” or acquired at a “Vending machine” have been categorised as UPFs.” Furthermore, the authors write in the introduction that “UPFs, in response to NOVA classification system, are industrial formulations of processed food substances (oils, fat, sugars, starch, and protein isolates) that include little or no complete food and sometimes embody flavourings, colourings, emulsifiers, and different beauty components. UPFs have gotten dominant in diets globally and are changing conventional diets based mostly on unprocessed and minimally processed meals.

Of the whole examine inhabitants at hand, UPFs have been about half of all energy consumed however ranged from 30 to 70%.

“Cognitive performance was assessed using the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease (CERAD), Word Learning test, Animal Fluency test, and the Digit Symbol Substitution test (DSST).”

The Animal Fluency check “evaluates categorical verbal fluency (executive function).” “For the Animal Fluency test, the participant is requested to name as many animals as possible within a 60-s [60 seconds, I assume] time period. Each animal corresponds to 1 point and the result is presented as the total sum of points.”

Mr Ed, the fluent horse (You received’t get this if beneath 63)

The check topics got two different exams of cognitive perform however the investigators discovered no variations in efficiency based mostly on ultra-processed food consumption. Here are these different two exams:

The two components of the CERAD Word Learning check include (1) three consecutive studying trials, the place the participant is requested to recall an inventory of ten unrelated phrases instantly after their presentation. Each phrase corresponds to 1 level, and the result’s offered as a complete rating throughout the three trials (vary 0–30); and (2) a delayed phrase recall check, carried out after the 2 different cognitive exams. The end result ranges from 0 to 10. … For the DSST, the participant is offered a single sheet of paper the place they’re asked to match an inventory of 9 symbols to numbers in response to a key positioned on the highest of the web page. The activity had 133 numbers and the participant had 2 min to finish it. The result’s proven as the entire variety of appropriate matches. For all of the exams, increased scores characterize higher cognitive perform. 

The authors conclude: “Consumption of UPF was associated with worse performance in Animal Fluency, a cognitive test that assesses language and executive function in older adults without pre-existing diseases such as CVD [cardiovascular disease] and diabetes, while no associations were observed for those with these conditions. While longitudinal studies are required to provide stronger evidence, these results suggest that decreasing UPF consumption may be a way to mitigate age-associated cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia.”

I agree these outcomes aren’t very sturdy.

Steve Parker, M.D.

h/t Jan at The Low Carb Diabetic weblog

front cover of Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes

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