Brain Health

How do ultra-processed foods (UPF’s) impact cognition?

Dr Frank Lipman
Jan 4, 2023

How do ultra-processed foods (UPF’s) impact cognition? There is a body of research which suggests that UPF consumption increases the risk for Crohn's disease, cancer, diabetes and premature death. However, new research suggests that these foods may also harm the brain.  

Study Summary

This new research, including 10,775 participants, found that:

  • When 20% of daily calories come from ultra-processed foods, cognitive decline accelerates. In the study, those who ate the lowest amount of UPF’s had a 28% lower rate of cognitive decline and a 25% lower rate of executive function decline, when compared to those who ate the most UPF’s.

The Hearty Take

Although this study shows association and not causation, there is a body of other research which helps suggest that ultra-processed foods may hold some responsibility in accelerating cognitive decline. To optimize brain health, look into ditching UPF’s like packaged goods, cookies, crackers and more; UPF’s most likely do not benefit the brain.

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