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Food choices and memory

November 10, 2021 at 10:00 p.m. | Updated November 12, 2021 at 7:58 a.m.

In the 2011 movie "Bridesmaids," when the wedding party, played by Kristin Wiig, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey, is hit with food poisoning while shopping for their dresses, McCarthy screams "What did we eat?"

If you find yourself wondering that, too -- the answer may be "highly processed foods." According to a new lab study by researchers at Ohio State University, a month of chowing down on highly inflammatory, processed foods that lack fiber and healthy fats is enough to damage memory, especially in seniors.

When older lab rats were fed a diet that mimicked ready-to-eat packaged foods, such as potato chips, frozen entrees like pasta dishes and pizzas, and deli meats containing preservatives, it damaged the memory centers in their hippocampus. That's the brain center that processes and retrieves fact- and event-based memories and memories related to locations and routes. It also muted their response to dangerous situations (they couldn't recall that they were in peril), and they packed on pounds.

The good news is that omega-3 DHA can help protect you from that unhealthy junk. But the study, published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, cautions that the anti-inflammatory powers of DHA aren't enough to eliminate the life-shortening risks of obesity. The best way to enjoy the health boost from DHA is to cut highly processed foods out of your diet completely, add in lots of DHA-rich salmon and opt for whole grains and fruits and veggies. Then you'll be able to remember what you ate -- and be glad you did!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic.

(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D.

and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

King Features Syndicate

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