Eating ready meals can have serious consequences for the brain. According to a recent study, highly processed foods such as frozen pizza are particularly dangerous – this was demonstrated by US scientists in experiments with rats.
Poor nutrition is at the root of many health problems – an unsurprising finding. It is downright shocking how quickly even the most extreme damage can occur. At least that’s what a recent nutrition study from Ohio says.
In general, fast food, frozen foods, sweets and snack foods are associated with diseases such as obesity (morbid obesity) and type 2 diabetes. However, after a new study on the subject of unhealthy nutrition, researchers at Ohio State University in the USA have come to another frightening finding: a persistently poor diet also has a negative effect on the brain.
According to the research, it promotes neurodegenerative diseases and can therefore lead to memory problems and even Alzheimer’s.
The foods targeted by the study are highly processed foods. Said consumption products go through several processing steps during their manufacture and contain many ingredients whose names are often difficult to pronounce and a number of additives. The naturalness of the products is completely lost.
There are several reasons why highly processed foods still sell so well. On the one hand, because they taste particularly good thanks to the addition of flavor enhancers, sugar and fat. On the other hand, because their production is cheap. The long shelf life due to preservatives also speaks in favor of these foods.
In the study on this subject, a human diet of ready-to-eat, highly processed foods was mimicked in rats over a four-week period. The foods specifically mentioned in the study included products such as potato chips, frozen pizza and pasta, and cold cuts.
After the 28 days of the experiment, the researchers found that the consumption of these foods led to an inflammatory reaction in the brain, especially in aging rats, and was accompanied by signs of imminent memory loss. The study results were published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
In the experiment, male rats aged three and 24 months were divided into three groups. The allocation was random. The animals in the first group received a normal diet, the second group received a highly processed diet consisting largely of refined carbohydrates.
A third group also received highly processed food that was spiked with a specific omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
In several brain areas of the older rats that were fed highly processed foods, significantly increased levels of inflammation were found. However, this could not be determined in the other test animals of all groups: neither in normally fed young rats nor in older rats that were given processed food mixed with DHA (Omega 3).
In behavioral experiments, the older rats that ate the processed food showed signs of memory loss, which did not occur in the young rats. According to the researchers, they also had problems with contextual memory and showed no fear behavior in response to hazard warnings. This indicates abnormalities in the brain area of the amygdala.
“The fact that we’re seeing these effects so quickly is a little troubling. These results suggest that eating processed foods can lead to significant and sudden memory loss.
In the aging population, such memory loss is more likely to lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s,” study author Ruth Barrientos of the Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research said in a press release.
Another hypothesis of the researchers was also confirmed: Rats of both age groups that were given processed food gained weight. It was noticeable that the old rats gained significantly more weight than the young ones. DHA supplementation did not prevent weight gain either.
Barrientos therefore emphasizes that people should not interpret the results as carte blanche to eat certain foods as long as they are taken with a DHA (Omega 3) supplement.
Instead, they should focus on overall nutritional improvement to prevent the numerous negative effects of highly processed foods.
In summary, one can say that the research results from rats are transferrable to humans. Highly processed foods can lead to a variety of health problems, even in severe cases affecting brain health.
In order to prevent neurodegenerative diseases, one should therefore avoid these foods and instead pay attention to a healthy and wholesome diet and sufficient exercise.
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The original of this article “Do pizza and fries lead to Alzheimer’s? Ready meals can damage the brain” comes from inFranken.de.