The human brain is the body’s most important organ as it controls the whole body and its functions. So, it is essential to keep the brain healthy and prevent it from any damage. Some foods have a positive impact on brain health, while others do not. Most times, the latter causes memory, mood, and other mental function problems. These foods cause brain damage by producing various free radicals and other toxic products, which cause inflammation in the brain. The effect, in turn, results in a decline in its functions. These foods should be avoided or may be consumed in limited amounts to keep the brain healthy.
Bread, rice, pasta, and cereals are some of the refined carbs we consume daily. These refined carbs lack the fiber content, which slows down digestion. With no fiber content, these refined carbs get digested quickly and cause a spike in blood glucose and insulin levels. Similarly, increased glucose levels in the blood are linked to brain damage due to inflammation. Increased glucose levels lead to diabetes mellitus, which is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and impaired memory. Whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, and barley are a good replacement for the refined carbs.
They are added to the food to improve its shelf life and enhance the flavors. It is found in processed foods like cake, muffins, and cookies. Studies have reported its association with a decrease in brain volume, poor memory, and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Fried and Fast foods
Fried foods lead to not just obesity but also affect brain health. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Sciences showed low performance on mental function tests in patients who ate fried foods. Researchers suggest that fried foods cause inflammation and a reduction in the size of the brain. Instead of fried foods, use baked and grilled foods.
On the other hand, fast foods have high levels of saturated fats, which tend to deposit plaques in the blood vessels and brain. Plaque deposition is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease. Burgers, Pizza, Cheese, Fries, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products are full of theses saturated fats and should be avoided. Red meat also has a high-fat content, so its consumption should be limited. Saturated fats present with increased risk of stroke, impaired memory, and cognitive decline.
Not all kinds of seafood cause damage to the brain. While some of them help in improving brain function, others cause a decline in the brain’s health. Salmon, Sardines, and Mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help in improving mental functions. On the other hand, tuna, shark, and swordfish are toxic to humans. These fishes have high levels of mercury – which, if present in increased levels in the blood - accumulate and deposit in the brain. A research study by the University of South Florida showed that participants with an increase in mercury levels in blood showed a 5% drop in cognitive functions. Therefore, it is advised to avoid or limit the consumption to one serving in a week or two.
Canola, sunflower, and soybean oil have higher levels of omega-6s fatty acid. Well, it has inflammatory properties that damage the brain and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Although omega-6s are good for bones, skin, and hair. Besides, its use should be limited or replaced with oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties like olive oil.
Refined sugars and artificial sugars
Refined sugars, just like refined carbs, cause a spike in blood glucose levels that damage the brain by promoting inflammation. They also have fructose that is linked with an increased risk of dementia. Avoid frequent use of soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks, and sweets.
What’s more, artificial sugars like aspartame are associated with impaired memory and cognitive decline. Most of the food items these days are high in added sugars. They often cause brain inflammation due to increased blood glucose levels and decreased brain derived neurotrophic factor that is crucial in learning, and making new memories. Replace the added sugars with natural sugars, like fruits.
Packed and processed foods are full of added preservatives, sugars, and sodium that are toxic to our body, especially the brain. Though it is easy to cook and eat these foods, they are not worth the damage they cause to the brain. They are also linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
Alcohol in excess quantities causes many health problems and brain damage. It is recommended to drink not more than one glass in females and two glasses in males. A research study conducted on a million people in France proved that alcohol is the most common preventable cause of dementia in them. Early-onset dementia patients had a chronic history of alcoholism.
To wrap up this informative guide, you have seen some foods that negatively impact your brain’s health. In order to improve the mental functions, these foods should be avoided or limited in the diet. In addition to this, a healthy brain with a sharp memory, increased focus, and concentration can be achieved by following a healthy balanced diet. While you have a balanced diet, do well to include fruits and vegetables. Plus, you should avoid dehydration, manage stress with exercise, yoga, and meditation. In the end, you will be absolutely delighted because your brain will always be at its best.