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Processed Foods and Their Impact on Our Aging Brain

Processed foods are known to have many negative side effects on our health due to the high content of sugar and fat in them. The widespread use of processed foods in today’s day and age has also been identified as a major reason why so many health conditions such as obesity, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more are on the rise. But how processed foods are connected with aging for different human organs, such as the human brain? Let’s find out.

What Are Processed Foods?

Any food item that has been altered or transformed while preparing is classified as processed food. Food items can be processed in several different ways such as freezing, grinding, canning, etc.

Processed Food and Aging People

We know that young people are heavily dependent on processed food and love consuming the same. However, they’re not the only ones. Recent studies have shown that even adults as old as 60 years can get easily obsessed with processed foods. Whether it’s burgers, French fries, hot dogs, or packed chips adults are showing more and more inclination towards such processed foods. However, sadly, they are more prone to diseases and health hazards. This is because processed and packed food items often contain high amounts of sugar and sodium which h can trigger a lot of complications.

Some of the common health complications aging people can face if they increase their consumption of processed foods are Insulin resistance, stomach cavity, high blood pressure levels, high levels of natural fats in tissues, and a high level of overall fat in the liver, and high levels of bad cholesterol.

Impact on the Aging Brain

Apart from causing harm to our overall physical health, processed foods have also been linked to harming our brain’s overall health and especially memory function.

A group of scientists experimented on lab rats and put them on a diet of processed foods for four weeks straight. This continuous consumption of processed foods leads to them showing obvious signs of memory loss. However, this damage to the brain’s memory function was observed more in aging rats and very as compared to young rats. After more experimentations, scientists also concluded that this damage to memory can be mitigated by consuming omega-3 fatty acids. The diet provided to these lab rats was similar to the processed foods that include pizzas, chips, burgers, etc.

Thus, researchers and scientists have now concluded that if the aging population consumes processed foods either frequently or in large amounts then the probability of them being afflicted with mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc. also increases.

Further research on this matter shows processed foods are also a direct cause of increased brain inflammation which hinders a brain’s regular functions. The reason why processed carbs were more detrimental to an aging rat’s brain as compared to a younger one was due to the carbs creating abnormalities in the hippocampus and amygdala.

The hippocampus and amygdala are also present in the human brain and are linked to emotions such as anxiety and fear. When humans consume processed foods excessively or frequently then there is a high risk of making the hippocampus and amygdala of a human dysfunctional. If any harm is caused to a person’s hippocampus and amygdala, then, the person will have trouble detecting danger which will eventually lead them to make decisions that harm their safety.

Even though scientists have concluded that the consumption of omega-3 DHA has been proven to be effective against the damage caused by processed foods, they haven’t been able to figure out the exact amount of omega-3 an individual must consume.

Since researchers and scientists haven’t been able to determine an exact portion for DHA consumption, they have advised people to consume diets that are overall healthy. Diets that are mostly focused on lean protein and low in carbs are advised. In addition, more fiber should be incorporated to curb carb cravings and help you feel fuller for a longer period. This study was also supported and seconded by the National Institute on Aging.

Final Thoughts

Thus, whether you’re young or old, it is important to incorporate balance into your diet. We live in a world where every shelf in a supermarket has at least one processed food item. Thus, avoiding them completely forever is impractical and extremely difficult. This is why it’s better to consume them in moderation and infrequently and focus on living a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

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