Ultra-Processed Foods Could Lead to Strokes and Dementia, Says Harvard Study

"Food processing plays an important role in overall brain health," the Harvard study says

<p>Getty Images</p> A picture of a meal from a fast food restaurant

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A picture of a meal from a fast food restaurant

A Harvard study has found that eating ultra-processed foods could damage a person’s brain.

According to The Times, the study - which was published in the journal Neurology - concluded that consuming large amounts of the foods could be linked to strokes and dementia.

Memory problems were reported by middle-aged people if they consumed mostly cakes, sweets, burgers and fizzy drinks. The study also found that a higher rate of consumption of the products resulted in a higher risk of stroke.

This resulted in the conclusion that “food processing plays an important role in overall brain health."

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A picture of a shopping cart with groceries

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According to the outlet, the study claimed that the manufacturing of the foods caused the products to be harmful, not just their high-calorie content. They also found that gut bacteria could be disrupted thanks to industrially produced foods containing high levels of additives.

This could lead to chronic illnesses caused by the inflammation produced in the body from the additives.

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“The vast majority of [ultra-processed foods] are unhealthy, and the more of them you eat, the higher your risk of various diseases,” Frank Hu, Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said per Harvard T.H CHAN.

<p>Getty Images</p> Ready made meals

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Ready made meals

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According to The Times, data from over 30,000 adults aged 45 and over were examined by Harvard Medical School for 11 years.  The data collection method included questionnaires about the foods the adults consumed.

This was then divided into four groups that compared the people who had eaten more processed foods to the ones who had the least processed foods.

Meanwhile, the study concluded that by the end of the research, 1,108 participants had had a stroke and 768 were diagnosed with cognitive impairment.

“Our findings show that the degree of food processing plays an important role in overall brain health,” Lead author of the study, Dr William Taylor Kimberly said, per the outlet.  More research is needed to confirm these results and to better understand which food or processing components contribute most to these effects.”

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