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Junk food binges may lead to memory problems or stroke – NBC Right Now

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By Stephen Beech via SWNS

People who gorge on junk food such as crisps and biscuits are more likely to suffer memory problems in later life, according to new research.

Eating more ultra-processed foods also raised the risk of a stroke compared to eating fewer processed foods, according to the study published in the journal Neurology.

Ultra-processed foods are high in added sugar, fat and salt, and low in protein and fiber. Examples include ham, sausages, burgers, ice cream, crisps, mass-produced bread, breakfast cereals, canned baked beans. biscuits, fizzy drinks, fruit-flavored yogurts, instant soups, and some alcoholic drinks such as rum.

Unprocessed or minimally processed foods include meats such as simple cuts of beef, pork, and chicken, plus fruit and vegetables.

American scientists said their findings don’t prove that eating ultra-processed foods cause memory and thinking problems or a stroke, rather the study only shows an association.

Study author Professor Taylor Kimberly said: “While a healthy diet is important in maintaining brain health among older adults, the most important dietary choices for your brain remain unclear.

“We found that increased consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher risk of both stroke and cognitive impairment, and the association between ultra-processed foods and stroke was greater among black participants.”



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The research team followed more than 30,000 participants age 45 or older for an average of 11 years.They completed questionnaires about what they ate and drank.

The researchers determined how much ultra-processed food people ate by calculating the grams per day and comparing it to the grams per day of other foods to create a percentage of their daily diet.

That percentage was calculated into four groups, ranging from the least processed foods to the most processed foods.

The researchers looked at 14,175 participants for cognitive decline and 20,243 participants for stroke. Both groups had no history of cognitive impairment or stroke.

By the end of the study, 768 people were diagnosed with cognitive impairment and 1,108 people had suffered a stroke.

For those in the cognitive group, people who developed memory and thinking problems consumed 25.8 per cent of their diet in ultra-processed foods, compared to 24.6 per cent for those who did not develop cognitive problems.



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After adjusting for age, sex, high blood pressure and other factors that could affect the risk of dementia, the team found that a 10 percent increase in the amount of ultra-processed foods eaten was associated with a 16 percent higher risk of cognitive impairment.

They also found that eating more unprocessed or minimally processed foods was linked with a 12 percent lower risk of cognitive impairment.

People who had a stroke during the study consumed 25.4 percent of their diet in ultra-processed foods, compared to 25.1 percent for those who did not have a stroke.

After adjustments, researchers found greater intake of ultra-processed foods was linked to an eight percent increase in the risk of a stroke, while a greater intake of unprocessed or minimally processed foods was linked to a nine percent decreased stroke risk.

The effect of ultra-processed food consumption on stroke risk was greater among black participants – with a 15 percent relative increase in risk of a stroke, according to the findings.

Kimberly, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said: “Our findings show that the degree of food processing plays an important role in overall brain health.”

He added: “More research is needed to confirm these results and to better understand which food or processing components contribute most to these effects.”

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