Dumber than shit? Is it because more than 60 percent of Americans gobble down ultra-processed food?

Dr. Huiping Li, the author from China’s Tianjin Medical University on ultra-processed foods said eating these foods diminishes the quality of a person’s life because these foods contain food additives or molecules from “packaging or produced during heating,” which have been shown to have a negative effect on memory skills.

“Our research not only found that ultra-processed foods are associated with an increased risk of dementia, but it also found replacing them with healthy options may decrease dementia risk,” she said.

The study focused on 72,083 people, 55 years old and older, from a database in the U.K. These individuals did not have dementia at the beginning of the study. These individuals were tracked for 10 years and 518 came down with dementia at the end of the research, SciTech Daily reported.

The individuals were put in categories based on what they ate the day before. The group that ingested the lowest amount of ultra-processed foods had 105 people out of 18,021 come down with dementia. The group that ingested the highest amount—which also included 18,021 members— recorded 150 cases. These researchers considered family history and risk factors and found that for every 10 percent increase in ultra-processed foods, individuals had a 25 percent higher risk of coming down with dementia.

TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has long noted that most people don’t care enough to make any significant changes in their lives. They consume bullshit news, watch bullshit TV shows, and eat bullshit non-food. We noted in last week’s magazine, in an article titled, “BLIMP TIME: AMERICANS DEVOURING SNACKS AS THEIR WAIST SIZE EXPANDS,” that snack sales in the U.S. are expected to reach $170 billion in sales in the next few years while about 42 percent of Americans are obese.

Sales of supermarket staples Doritos, Ruffles, PopCorners have jumped by double digits in the second quarter of the year. CNN reported that the running theory is that Americans are turning to quick-fix snacks because they’ve re-emerged from COVID-19 and are back outside their homes again. 

The link to mental health follows studies that have long shown these foods lead to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cerebrovascular diseases, and other health issues. Studies have shown that these foods make up half the total dietary energy consumed in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

At around the same time the U.K. study was published, The BMJ published a study on ultra-processed foods found in processed meats “are a strong risk factor for colorectal cancer.”

The study, which was conducted by Tufts University and Harvard University, said cancer cases were prevalent in men. Men who ate high levels of processed meats were 29 percent more likely to develop the cancer, which Veg News noted is the third most diagnosed cancer in the U.S.

“Processed meats, most of which fall into the category of ultra-processed foods, are a strong risk factor for colorectal cancer,” Lu Wang, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts, said in a statement, according to the outlet. “Ultra-processed foods are also high in added sugars and low in fiber, which contribute to weight gain and obesity, and obesity is an established risk factor for colorectal cancer.”

What Are ‘Ultra-Processed’ Foods?

The NOVA classification system categorizes foods relating to the industrial processes they undergo during production. Public Health Nutrition, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2019, said the process of manufacturing these foods are designed to “create highly profitable (low-cost ingredients, long shelf-life, emphatic branding), convenient (ready-to-consume), hyper-palatable products.”

These products contain ingredients “rarely used in kitchens,” the report said. They include high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated or interesterified oils, and hydrolysed proteins, “or classes of additives designed to make the final product palatable or more appealing (such as flavors, flavor enhancers, colors, emulsifiers, emulsifying salts, sweeteners, thickeners, and anti-foaming, bulking, carbonating, foaming, gelling and glazing agents).”

NOVA’s list of ultra-processed foods include: soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit nectar drinks, alcoholic beverages, distilled beverages, beer, refined cereal, breads, ready-to-eat meals, instant cereals, cookies, candy, sugary drinks, margarine, mayonnaise, chips, instant soups, confectionery, jams, chocolate, ice cream, cake, energy bars, dairy drinks, yogurts, processed cheese, pizza, pasta dishes, instant sauces, processed meat products, meat analogs, infant formulas, weight loss products such as meal replacement shakes and powders.

The World Health Organization has identified processed meats like bacon, ham, and sausage are a Group 1 carcinogenic.

TRENDPOST: Lindsey Wohlford, the wellness dietitian at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said she considers these foods “pre-digested.”

“The work that our bodies would normally do is already partially done for us because food companies have broken down food and then put it back together,” she said in a blog post by the center. “That means it’s easy for our bodies to break down ultra-processed foods, and so our blood sugar increases quickly and then it drops quickly. We feel hungry and low in energy, and we’re prompted to eat more. Plus, because ultra-processed foods are made to taste good, they trigger those areas of the brain that make us want more. So, we end up consuming too many calories.”

She said it is unrealistic for most Americans to completely abandon these foods, but she said people should try to choose foods that have as few ingredients as possible. 

“If you can get to three ingredients or fewer, that’s going to be far less processed than ultra-processed foods that can have more than 20 ingredients,” she said.

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