Processed Food May Reduce Memory (New Study) ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Key Highlights

  • Without a strong memory, we forgot a simple thing.
  • Our memory largely depends on our diet and lifestyle.
  • A recent study has shown that processed food may reduce memory.

Our brainโ€™s storage capacity is virtually unlimited. [1]

With age, our memory will lose its capacity. [2]

Evidence shows that our lifestyle and diet plays an important role in how much we lose our memory with age. [3]

A recent study has shown that processed food may reduce memory.

Letโ€™s dig deep into it. ๐Ÿง

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Table of Contents


The Study Process

This study was conducted by the Ohio State University (USA) and published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity as well as their official website. [4] [5]

For this study, researchers selected male rats between three and twenty-four months of age. ๐Ÿ€

Researchers divided them into three groups according to the diet provided.

First group: normal chow (32 percent calories from protein, 54 per cent from wheat-based complex carbs and 14 percent from fat).

Second group: highly-processed diet (19.6 percent of calories from protein, 63.3 percent from refined carbs โ€” cornstarch, maltodextrin, and sucrose โ€” and 17.1 percent from fat).

Third group: the same processed diet but supplemented with DHA, which is an Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, shellfish, and some seaweed.

The study diet mimicked ready-to-eat human foods that are often packaged for long shelf lives, such as potato chips and other snacks, like pasta dishes and pizzas and containing preservatives. ๐Ÿ”๐ŸŒญ๐ŸŸ๐Ÿ•๐Ÿฅ“

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Processed Food May Reduce Memory, Overeating is not the Primary cause of Obesity,
Processed foods can invite several health risks.

The Result of this Study

After four weeks of analyzing the rats, researchers found that the ultra-processed diet activated more genes associated with a pro-inflammatory protein and other markers of inflammation in the hippocampus and amygdala in older rats. 

Hippocampus is responsible for learning new memories while amygdala is responsible for processing the memories. [6] [7]

But in young rats who consumed processed foods with DHA supplement, shown negligible effect of memory loss. 

Older rats forgot having spent time in an unfamiliar space within a few days, which is a sign of problems with contextual memory in the hippocampus. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

They also did not display anticipatory fear behavior to a danger cue, which suggested there were abnormalities in the amygdala.

The results also showed that DHA supplementation of the processed-food diets consumed by the older rats effectively prevented the elevated inflammatory response in the brain, as well as behavioral signs of memory loss.

However, researchers don’t know the exact dosage of DHA to counteract this inflammatory effect of ultra-processed diets. ๐Ÿค”

Both age groups gained a significant amount of weight on the processed diet. Weight gain is more in older rats compared to the younger ones. 

DHA supplementation had no preventive effect on weight gain associated with eating highly processed foods.

โ€œThe fact we’re seeing these effects so quickly is a little bit alarming,โ€ said senior study author Ruth Barrientos, an investigator in The Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural health.

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How Processed Food May Reduce Memory?

According to the researchers, processed foods may affect the amygdala, which is responsible for memories associated with emotion. 

Also, processed foods or junk foods may reduce neuroplasticity โ€” which is essential for us to form new memories and learn new things rapidly. [8]

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Junk Foods
Processed Food May Reduce Memory.

The Final Word

Although DHS supplementation prevents memory loss with a processed diet, we should avoid these foods as much as possible.

Researchers warned that don’t see these findings from one side. ๐Ÿค”

Processed foods don’t just impact our memory, they are also linked with obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. [9] [10] [11]

So, eat a healthy and balanced diet and avoid processed foods as much as you can for your good health. ๐Ÿฅ—

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Is processed food bad for memory?

Yes. Processed foods are bad for overall health, including memory. Several studies support this.

How processed foods affect our memory?

Evidence shows that processed foods may inflame the hippocampus and amygdala in the brain. These are responsible for learning and processing of memories.

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This article is written by a certified nutritionist and verified by scientific evidence. โ˜‘๏ธ

We rely on reputed and specialized media sites, academic research institutions, peer-reviewed studies, government agencies, and medical associations to source information. ๐Ÿ“ฐ

We avoid using tertiary references. Know more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy. ๐Ÿง

Following are the references of this article.

  1. Northwestern Medicine (NM): 11 Fun Facts About Your Brain. Accessed 16 November 2021.[]
  2. National Institute on Aging: Do Memory Problems Always Mean Alzheimer’s Disease? Accessed 16 November 2021.[]
  3. Harvard Health Publishing (Harvard Medical School): Boost your memory by eating right. Accessed 16 November 2021.[]
  4. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity: Dietary DHA prevents cognitive impairment and inflammatory gene expression in aged male rats fed a diet enriched with refined carbohydrates. Accessed 16 November 2021.[]
  5. Ohio State News (OSU): How highly processed foods harm memory in the aging brain. Accessed 16 November 2021.[]
  6. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology: Hippocampus in health and disease: An overview. Accessed 16 November 2021.[]
  7. SimplyPsychology: Amygdala Function and Location. Accessed 16 November 2021.[]
  8. RMIT University: Five ways junk food changes your brain. Accessed 16 November 2021.[]
  9. Cell Metabolism: Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake. Accessed 16 November 2021.[]
  10. TheBMJ: Ultra-processed food intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: prospective cohort study (NutriNet-Santรฉ). Accessed 16 November 2021.[]
  11. PubMed: Ultra-processed food consumption and type 2 diabetes incidence: A prospective cohort study. Accessed 16 November 2021.[]

About the Author

A. R. Choudhury, ARChoudhuryMSc,

A. R. Choudhury is a IGNOU certified nutritionist in India with a Bachelorโ€™s and Masterโ€™s degree in Biochemistry.

He also has considerable research experience and additional certificates in nutrition. ๐Ÿ‘

Abdur started NutritionCrown in 2020 to organize nutrition information under one umbrella. โ˜‚๏ธ

He is passionate about empowering people to make well-informed food choices to support their health.

Abdur currently lives in India and keeps fit by weight training and eating mainly home-cooked meals. ๐Ÿ’ช ๐Ÿฅ—