Steve Thompson recalls signs of his early-onset dementia

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A new study has found consumption of ultra-processed food could be linked to dementia.

Conducted after analysis of 7,083 people featured in the UK Biobank, the research suggested a diet filled with regular consumption of ultra-processed food could lead to a loss of cognitive function.

Participants studied were those aged 55 and older who did not have dementia when the study began.

After careful study of the data, they found every 10 percent increase in daily intake resulted in 25 percent increased risk of dementia.

While new, this isn’t the first-time dementia has been linked to ultra-processed food.

A similar piece of research, which followed 10,000 people over 10 years also found a link.

Researchers for this study concluded that for these foods to have an impact they would have to account for more than 20 percent of a person’s daily calorie intake, but this can vary from individual to individual.

The reason for their substantial impact is down to their high fat and salt content combined with a lack of fibre and protein.

Examples of ultra-processed food include:
• Crisps
• Chips
• Soft drinks
• Ice cream
• Sausages
• Deep fried foods
• Ketchup
• Mayonnaise
• Canned baked beans.

This list isn’t exhaustive, a fact which indicates how easy it is to find and include said items into the diet.

Furthermore, it isn’t hard to find oneself falling into some of the risk factors for dementia with diet one of them.

The reason for this is because a poor diet increases the risk of heart disease which restricts the ability of the heart to pump oxygen to crucial areas of the body such as the brain.

What are the other risk factors for dementia?

Diet isn’t the only risk factor, so too is:
• Ageing
• Genes
• Gender
• Sex
• Cognitive reserve
• Ethnicity
• Existing health conditions and diseases.

In the same way the list of ultra-processed foods isn’t exhaustive, neither is the list of dementia risk factors.

Last month a new risk factor was agreed on by the UK Government, one that affects millions.

In a landmark report the UK Government released a paper saying that air pollution was linked to dementia.

The report says: “We have concluded that the evidence is now suggestive of an association between ambient air pollutants and an acceleration of the decline in cognitive function often associated with ageing, and with the risk of developing dementia.

“There are a number of plausible biological mechanisms by which air pollutants could cause effects on the brain leading to accelerated cognitive decline and dementia. Some of these have been demonstrated in experimental studies.

“We think there is a strong case for the effects of air pollutants on the cardiovascular system having a secondary effect on the brain.”

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