Eating junk food is bad for the health--true. But how seriously bad is it? According to a new research, it can reduce the size of your brain literally.
In a study conducted by researchers from Australian National University (ANU) and Deakin University, led by Felice Jacka, an associate professor, junk food may be correlated to a significant cognitive decline by the time you reach your senior years.
The study, which is now available in BMC Medicine, focused on more than 230 men and women whose ages were around sixties and who participated in PATH study, an ANU longitudinal research about aging. Aside from taking notes of their diet, the researchers also performed an MRI scan to measure the size of the participants' hippocampus, a part of the brain that's associated with memory and learning. As the person ages, the size of the brain also shrinks. They also took into consideration other factors that could have some impact on the hippocampus.
The results of the study suggested that participants who ate plenty of junk food had a much smaller brain size, specifically smaller hippocampus, than those who consumed a healthier diet, regardless of the other associated factors. In fact, the difference was as high as 60%, which implied that junk food, which can range from sweets to processed meat, could have a huge impact on brain health.
According to Jacka, their analysis is essential as the number of cases of dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease, has increased over the years. Alzheimer's Association reports that Alzheimer's is one of the top 10 causes of deaths in the United States, but it's the only one that cannot be prevented or slowed down. Further, at least 1 in every 3 seniors with Alzheimer's or dementia could die from the disease.
Although the study was conducted among seniors, the team believes that the importance of eating healthy should be consistent since childhood especially since hippocampus generates new cells.