Ultra-processed foods increase the risk of dementia

The study concludes that the more ultra-processed foods are consumed, the greater the risk of developing dementia.

There is growing evidence linking the consumption of ultra-processed foods con adverse health effects, such as depression, cardiovascular disease or even mortality. A study published in Neurology studied the possible relationship between the consumption of these foods and the incidence of dementia.

The study concludes that the higher the consumption of ultra-processed foods, the higher the risk of developing dementia, while substituting these foods for unprocessed foodsor minimally processed, is associated with a lower risk of developing the disease.


Ultra-processed foods and Alzheimer’s risk

The research involved 72,083 people aged 55 or older who did not have dementia before starting the study. They had to provide at least two food ratings out of 24. The NOVA classification (a model of “similar” to NutriScore, but following other parameters) was used to determine whether a food is considered ultra-processed or not. A Cox regression model was used to estimate the association between the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet and the subsequent risk of dementia. In addition, a substitution analysis was used to estimate the risk of dementia when substituting ultra-processed foods for an equivalent proportion of unprocessed or minimally processed foods.

Of all the attendees, 518 developed dementia; 287 developed Alzheimer’s disease and 119 developed vascular dementia. Thus, the consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with an increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.


“Consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s”


In addition, replacing 10% of ultra-processed foods in the diet with an equivalent proportion of unprocessed or minimally processed foods has been estimated to be associated with 19% lower risk of developing dementia. In this way, it is determined that the consumption of these foods can not only have an impact on depression or cardiovascular disease, but also on the onset of neurodegenerative diseases associated with dementia.

Although it may contain statements, data, or notes from healthcare institutions or professionals, the information in Medical Writing is edited and prepared by journalists. We recommend that the reader consult a healthcare practitioner with any health-related questions.

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