Is This Popular Food The Cause Memory Loss and Dementia?

As we get older it is natural to forget a few things. We always chalk it up to what we call “senior moments”.

But a new study on foods we eat may be to blame for forgetfulness, and not just our advancing years.

The study below is quite alarming, but it really is easy to change and improve our cognition.

Be Well,

Journal Brain, Behavior…

In a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, researchers at The Ohio State University fed two groups of rats, one young and one older, a diet high in refined carbohydrates such as those found in highly processed foods. (Think potato chips, frozen pizza, preservative-laden deli meats – and yes, Cheez-Its.)

After just four weeks of this junk-food fest, the older rats failed a series of cognitive tests. They couldn’t remember places they’d just been, and didn’t show fear when faced with signs of impending danger.

The younger rats who chowed down on the processed food diet showed no signs of memory loss or inappropriate responses.

Neither did a control group, both young and old, who were given their normal diet, which was made up of a healthy mix of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fat.

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Alarming Results…

“These findings indicate that consumption of a processed diet can produce significant and abrupt memory deficit,” the study’s lead author, Ruth Barrientos, said in a university release.

And if four weeks seems like an incredibly short an amount of time to see such drastic effects, Barrientos, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral health and an investigator at The Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, agrees. “The fact we’re seeing these effects so quickly is a little bit alarming.”

What’s happening in the brains of these rats to make them forget where they’ve been and not respond to danger? The problem lies in the hippocampus, which plays a huge role in learning and memory, and the amygdala, which regulates emotion.

Researchers found that the diet high in refined carbs triggered an inflammatory response in these regions of the older rats’ brains. This inflammation made them forget having recently spent time in an unfamiliar space, indicating problems with the hippocampus, and fail to respond to danger cues, suggesting damage to the amygdala.

The Key To A Healthy Diet…

The key to staying mentally sharp and physically healthy, says Barrientos, is staying away from highly processed foods and refined carbs. “Folks who are used to looking at nutritional information need to pay attention to the fiber and quality of carbohydrates. This study really shows those things are important.”

Want to have fewer “senior moments,” not to mention continue to fit into your favorite jeans? It could be as simple as swapping your afternoon Cheez-Its – or whatever your particular processed food weakness is – for some sliced apples (full of fiber) and a handful of walnuts (rich in omega-3 fatty acids).

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In Closing…

If doing away with processed foods means a lower risk of dementia down the road, I’m in. It is time to get a little more creative with my snacking! Join me in doing this and we will all be better for it.

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