New Study Links Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise to Dementia

What you put in your mouth has a huge effect on your brain.

At this point, you already know a poor diet wreaks havoc on your waistline and your heart, but a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology is warning that what you put in your mouth may be negatively affecting the long-term health of your brain, too.

Nicolas Cherbuin, the head of the Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing at the Australian National University and lead author of the study, analyzed more than 200 international studies—including one that tracked the cognitive health of more than 7,000 people. And he concluded that some of our current lifestyle choices are rapidly deteriorating our minds.

"People are eating away at their brain with a really bad fast-food diet and little-to-no exercise," Cherbuin said in a university newsletter. "We've found strong evidence that people's unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise for sustained periods of time puts them at serious risk of developing type 2 diabetes and significant declines in brain function, such as dementia and brain shrinkage."

According to the report, the average person is consuming 650 more calories per day now than they were back in the 1970s, which is just one of the reasons that the average American is significantly heavier today than in previous decades.

"The extra amount of energy that people consume daily compared to 50 years ago means that many people have an unhealthy diet," he said. "People eating too much of the wrong kind of food, particularly fast food, is the other big worry. As a society, we need to stop asking, 'Do you want fries with that?', and the mindset that comes with it. If we don't, then expect to see more overweight and obese people suffering from serious diseases."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of children and teens who are affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s, and one out of every five kids between the ages of 6 and 19 are now considered obese.

The other concern is that we're also moving less, which isn't doing us any favors. An alarming new study revealed that kids seem to be losing interest in exercising at a much younger age than previous generations, which is also a cause for concern for health experts and parents alike.

"The damage done is pretty much irreversible once a person reaches midlife, so we urge everyone to eat healthy and get in shape as early as possible—preferably in childhood but certainly by early adulthood," Cherubin said. "One of the best chances people have of avoiding preventable brain problems down the track is to eat well and exercise from a young age. The message is simple, but bringing about positive change will be a big challenge. Individuals, parents, medical professionals, and governments all have an important role to play."

And for advice on how to offset some of the negative effects of our current lifestyle choices, check out Boost Your Brain with This Science-Proven Trick.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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