Once again, research finds that eating highly processed foods is not the best, this time for cognitive performance of 17 year olds. From Medical Xpress:
Higher intake of a western diet by 14-year-olds has been linked with diminished cognitive performance at age 17.
Researchers found that participants with a western dietary pattern—characterised by high intakes of takeaway food, red and processed meat, soft drink, fried and refined food—scored lower in cognitive tasks, particularly those involving reaction time/psychomotor function, visual attention, learning and memory.
Chips and crisps came in for a particular drubbing: their high consumption was significantly associated with longer reaction times on detection tasks. In contrast to their peers, study participants with a high intake of fruits and leafy vegetables had better cognitive performance, which lead researcher Dr Anett Nyaradi says could be due to increased micronutrient content. This includes folate from leafy green vegetables, which previous research has linked to enhanced cognitive development.
Led by UWA and the Telethon Kids Institute, the study involved 602 members of the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study....Dr Nyaradi says several factors may be at play in this diet-related decline in cognitive skills, including the level of omega-6 fatty acids in fried foods and red meat.
Metabolic pathways function best with a balanced 1:1 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but the western diet can shift this to a 1:20 or 1:25 ratio.High intake of saturated fat and simple carbohydrates has been linked to impairment in the functioning of the hippocampus, a brain structure centrally involved in learning and memory that increases its volume during adolescence, Dr Nyaradi says.
"Adolescence represents a critical time period for brain development. It is possible that poor diet is a significant risk factor during this period…indeed, our findings support this proposition."