Research shows a link between eating more processed meat, such as bacon, ham and sausage, and an increased risk of dementia. Better to ditch the processed meat for healthier options like bacon tempeh shown above.
We’ve all heard it research linking processed meats to an increased risk of cancer, risk of heart diseaseand type 2 diabetes, but there is growing concern about the link between eating more processed meat and the risk of dementia. Yes, a recent one observational study from the United Kingdom found a correlation between eating processed meat and the risk of dementia.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a general term—rather than a specific disorder—used to describe symptoms such as memory loss, cognitive decline, and loss of other thinking abilities, including language and problem solving. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia and according to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 50 million cases of dementia worldwide. About 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year, and unfortunately, the CDC predicts that the number of US adults with dementia will increase significantly by 2060.
Nutrition and Dementia
Certain lifestyle factors, including diet, may contribute to a person’s risk of developing dementia. Actually, a pop-up body of him Research has linked healthy, plant-based diets to brain protection and a lower risk of dementia. A diet rich in phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy carbohydrates, and healthy fats may be key to reducing inflammation and protecting the brain. Conversely, diets high in sodium, saturated fat, and processed meats have been linked to increased inflammation.
Processed meats and dementia research
The researchers of this study looked at dietary questionnaires completed by 493,888 volunteers in the UK, aged 40-69. The researchers then looked at hospital and mortality records to find information about cases of dementia. In addition, the researchers also looked at other factors that may have influenced whether or not the volunteers developed dementia, such as socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity and education. In total, 2,896 of the volunteers had dementia of any cause.
Overall, the researchers found that for every additional 25-gram serving of processed meat eaten per day, the risk of developing dementia increased by 44%. It was also associated with a 52% increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Because this was an observational study, it should be noted that these findings demonstrate only an association and not causation. However, with all the research showing the health benefits of a plant-based diet, giving up processed meat and adopting a diet full of healthy plants and vegetables may be best for both you and the earth.
What is processed meat?
Health organizations have defined processed meat as meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting or adding chemical preservatives. Examples of processed meats include ham, bacon, pastrami, sausages, hot dogs, and lunch meats. What is in processed meat that could be behind the health risks? Research shows that it may be due to added nitrites and nitrates, saturated fat, salt, compounds produced during the processing and cooking of these products, or the heme iron in red meat.
Remove the processed meat
The AIRC review found no safe level to recommend processed meat intake. So, skip processed meat by swapping it for the following foods:
- Try it tempeh, tofu or soy alternatives for bacon, sausages and hot dogs.
- Enjoy baked tofu or tempeh as an easy replacement for processed meat in cooking, sandwiches or salads.
- Enjoy more meals based on whole plant foods such as beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
- Include more fruits and vegetables at mealtimes.
Read more about the research linking processed meat to cancer risk here.
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