Ultra-processed food

Ultra-Processed Diets Are Linked To Higher Dementia Risk

Recent studies show that consuming ultra-processed foods, such as soda and frozen meals, can negatively impact mood and cognitive function, despite their ability to satisfy cravings for unhealthy foods. Diets high in these foods were linked to a 44 percent greater risk of depression and a 48 percent higher risk of anxiety, according to a meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients.


Particularly alarming: A study of half a million people in England, Scotland, and Wales found that the risk of dementia increased by 25% for every 10% increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods.

Consuming excessive amounts of salt, sugar, and saturated fat is known to be associated with chronic inflammation, hypertension, elevated blood sugar levels, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. What the public may not appreciate, however, is that all these various health conditions can increase the risk of vascular dementia, which is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.

Additionally, additives like artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate can disrupt the production and release of important brain chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, leading to negative effects on mental and emotional health.

Ultra-processed foods may have addictive qualities and possess similarities to cigarettes rather than natural foods. That’s by design; “Multi-billion-dollar companies create these foods to hook us.”

Throughout human history, our bodies have adapted to crave and seek out foods that are sweet, fatty, and calorie-dense in order to ensure our survival. However, in nature, foods that fit this criteria are typically only moderately high in sugar, such as berries, or high in fat, like nuts.

You don’t find foods high in both sugar and fat. That’s a hallmark of ultra-processed foods. Add in salt, artificial flavorings, and bright colors, and our brain simply loses control over these foods.

While the exact cause-and-effect relationship is still unknown, the strongest observational evidence from prospective studies leans towards the idea that eating high amounts of ultra-processed foods increases the risk of depression onset in the future.

Reference- Journal Nutrients, The Guardian, BBC, National Geographic, Neurology Journals