YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A recent study released at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference says eating ultra-processed foods is linked to accelerated rates of cognitive decline.

An example of processed foods would be white bread, instant noodles, frozen dinners, sugary drinks, etc. 

“How many steps did that food have to go through in the factory to come to your resting place on the grocery store shelf?” Laura Zavadil asked. She is a dietitian and owner of Mega Barr Youngstown.

Zavadil says this is a great way to determine if you are eating high amounts of processed foods. She also says there are ways to work around eating processed foods.

“The first thing you can do is just cook more of your food at home. So, more food from scratch, and it doesn’t need to be more time consuming or more difficult or even more expensive,” she said. “Preparing your food at home just gives you more control of what is going into your body.”

Zavadil says eating certain types of foods can also help avoid processed foods.

“Preparing more plant-based foods, trying to get more whole grains, over the white processed starches… More fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and getting back to essentially a clean diet and even following a Mediterranean type diet,” she said.

She said even eating more organic meats and simplifying your meals can help. Even checking the ingredients on foods is important, to make sure you know what you’re eating.

“When there’s 25 different items listed there and you can’t pronounce half of them, that’s a pretty good red flag that that food is super processed,” she said.

The study that was co-authored by researchers at the University of Sao Paulo is yet to be peer-reviewed. The study examined the eating habits of thousands of adults in Brazil over the course of years. The results showed that those who ate higher percentages of ultra-processed foods were more likely to show a faster decline in cognitive scores.

Zavadil says brain health is just as important as the health of the rest of the body.