May 18, 2023
May 18, 2023
Recently Susan Griffin, DDS, wrote in the weekly newsletter of research that connects poor oral hygiene and missed dental exams and missed cleanings to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease in our senior years. Now we have another proven method of preventing Alzheimer’s disease, avoiding highly processed foods, termed ultraprocessed foods, or UPFs. We already knew that UPFs contribute to obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The Alzheimer’s Association lists the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as highly age-related; for those over 65, the risk increases yearly, and 1/3 of those over 85 will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (alz.org).
It is easy to determine if a favorite grocery item is a UPF; if the food label contains ingredients that are not found in a common pantry and you can’t pronounce them, that grocery item is a UPF. Seventy percent of package foods with food labels are also UPFs. (nytimes.com) For example, maybe I really like Fruit Loops much more than Wheaties. Fruit Loops’ first ingredient is whole grain corn flour (that’s good, right?) mixed with degerminated (not even a word in Spell Check) flour and maltodextrin along with all those colorings. Plain Greek yogurt is fine (ingredients: yogurt). But Lite and Fit Zero Sugar yogurt has acesulfame potassium).
How much or how often can I have what I like without triggering a greater risk? We don’t know. The risk is dependent on the consumer’s overall gut health. We do know that the cognitive decline rises along with the amount of UPFs eaten (nih.org/pubmed). The short answer? Buy grocery items that don’t need food labels (apples, tomatoes, fresh fish, flour, milk) and make most of your food at home.
For full references or other questions or concerns, contact Ruth Fugee, RN, MSN, Parish Health leader.