Your brain is the most important organ in your body. It keeps your heart beating, lungs breathing and all the systems in your body functioning. That’s why it’s essential to keep your brain working in optimum condition with a healthy diet.
Some foods have negative effects on the brain, impacting your memory and mood and increasing your risk of dementia. Estimates predict that dementia will affect more than 65 million people worldwide by 2030.
Luckily, you can help reduce your risk of the disease by cutting certain foods out of your diet.This article reveals the 7 worst foods for your brain.
- Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks include beverages like soda, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit juice.A high intake of sugary drinks not only expands your waistline and boosts your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease — it also has a negative effect on your brain.
An excessive intake of sugary drinks increases the odds of developing type 2 diabetes, which has been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
A primary component of many sugary drinks is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and high intake of fructose can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, high blood fats, diabetes and arterial dysfunction, which consists of 55% fructose and 45% glucose. In addition, higher sugar levels in the blood can increase the risk of dementia, even in people without diabetes
- Refined Carbs
Refined carbohydrates include sugars and highly processed grains, such as white flour. These types of carbs generally have a high glycemic index (GI). This means your body digests them quickly, causing a spike in your blood sugar and insulin levels.
Also, when eaten in larger quantities, these foods often have a high glycemic load (GL). The GL refers to how much a food raises your blood sugar levels, based on the serving size and have been found to impair brain function.
- Foods High in Trans Fats
Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat that can have a detrimental effect on brain health. While trans fats occur naturally in animal products like meat and dairy, these are not a major concern. It’s industrially produced trans fats, also known as hydrogenated vegetable oils, that are a problem.
These artificial trans fats can be found in shortening, margarine, frosting, snack foods, ready-made cakes and prepackaged cookies. Studies have found that when people consume higher amounts of trans fats, they tend to have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, poorer memory, lower brain volume and cognitive decline
- Highly Processed Foods
Highly processed foods tend to be high in sugar, added fats and salt. They include foods such as chips, sweets, instant noodles, microwave popcorn, store-bought sauces and ready-made meals.
These foods are usually high in calories and low in other nutrients. They’re exactly the kinds of foods that cause weight gain, which can have a negative effect on your brain health.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in many sugar-free products. People often choose to use it when trying to lose weight or avoid sugar when they have diabetes. It is also found in many commercial products not specifically targeted at people with diabetes.
However, this widely used sweetener has also been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems, though the research has been controversial.
Aspartame is made of phenylalanine, methanol and aspartic acid. Phenylalanine can cross the blood-brain barrier and might disrupt the production of neurotransmitters. Additionally, aspartame is a chemical stressor and may increase the brain’s vulnerability to oxidative stress
Some scientists have suggested these factors may cause negative effects on learning and emotions, which have been observed when aspartame is consumed in excess
When consumed in moderation, alcohol can be an enjoyable addition to a nice meal. However, excessive consumption can have serious effects on the brain. Chronic alcohol use results in a reduction in brain volume, metabolic changes and disruption of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals the brain uses to communicate
- Fish High in Mercury
Mercury is a heavy metal contaminant and neurological poison that can be stored for a long time in animal tissues. Long-lived, predatory fish are particularly susceptible to accumulating mercury and can carry amounts over 1 million times the concentration of their surrounding water.
For this reason, the primary food source of mercury in humans is seafood, particularly wild varieties. After a person ingests mercury, it spreads all around their body, concentrating in the brain, liver, and kidneys. In pregnant women, it also concentrates in the placenta and fetus
The effects of mercury toxicity include disruption of the central nervous system and neurotransmitters and stimulation of neurotoxins, resulting in damage to the brain. For developing fetuses and young children, mercury can disrupt brain development and cause the destruction of cell components. This can lead to cerebral palsy and other developmental delays and deficits
Several other substances in food are dangerous for your brain too. However, this doesn’t mean you must avoid all these foods completely. In fact, some foods like alcohol and fish also have health benefits.
One of the best things you can do for your brain is to follow a diet rich in healthy, fresh whole foods.