Cognitive decline in middle-aged and older adults may be reduced by limiting the consumption of ultra-processed foods.
Foods such as soft drinks, chips, chocolate, candy, sugared breakfast cereals, packaged soups, fast food, and much more are all ultra-processed food. When sugar, salt, fat, artificial colors, or preservatives are added, the food goes from unprocessed or minimally processed to ultra-processed.
According to The Washington Post, almost 60 percent of Americans consume calories from ultra-processed food. About 25-30 percent of calories contain ultra-processed food in England, Canada, France, Lebanon, Japan, and Brazil.
In 2018, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics revised the Standards of Practice (SOP) for long-term care. It outlines three levels of professional skill: competent, proficient, and expert. A dietitian must reach one of these levels. Further, the Standards of Professional Performance (SOPP) identifies six measures nursing home dietitians must meet in everyday practice:
- Quality in practice
- Competence and accountability
- Provision of services
- Application of research
- Communication and application of knowledge
- Utilization and management of resources
Brazil conducted a study of more than 10,000 people—with an average age of 52—who consumed ultra-processed foods daily. After more than eight years, it was concluded that participants who consumed more than 20 percent of their calorie intake with ultra-processed foods lost brain capabilities quicker when compared to participants who consumed less than 20 percent.
Those who showed a loss in cognitive ability saw a faster decline in their ability to executive function. This means the ability to plan and execute an action worked significantly less.
The executive function consists of six main things:
- Adaptable thinking
- Time management
With dietitians’ requirements changing, and individual patients requiring different things, it’s important to remember “flexibility is key.” Furthermore, having compassion when it comes to patients, and their families, can help the dietitian. LTC dietitians play an essential role in improving the quality of life for residents. Keeping residents engaged is important; here is a link to help dietitians.
“The daily energy derived from calories has a high impact on people and can leave a lasting effect on one’s cognitive health, so it is important to monitor the intake of these foods, to live a healthier lifestyle.” – Joe Kubulak, Chief Operating Officer at SpecialtyRx.