Your brain is possibly the most important organ in your body. Of course, there are several others without which you cannot live, but the brain controls them all. And not only does it keep your heart beating and your lungs breathing all the time, but it is also the repository of everything that does to you. All your thoughts, feelings and memories originate or reside in the brain.
The 7 worst foods for your brain
It is important to keep this vital organ happy and healthy. Proper nutrition can mean the difference between a clear head with a sense of purpose and a cloudy head with a sense of despair. As a lifelong habit, healthy eating also lowers the rate of cognitive impairment related to ageing and reduces the risk of developing dementia.
On the other hand, some foods are the worst for your brain. Delight yourself too often and you are likely to experience confusion, a bad mood and slower reaction times. In a vicious cycle, a depressed brain has little capacity to make the right decisions to improve.
If you know you have some bad habits, it is time to start reducing. Your brain will not like a massive dietary check at once, and even if you know it is the right option, you will have difficulty maintaining it. Instead, eliminate the following 7 elements of your diet one by one, making a gradual change that will protect your brain’s health in the long term. The easiest to leave is probably # 7.
1. Trans fats
The good news is that not all fats are bad for you. However, a particular type of fat called trans fat has a damaging effect on the brain. Trans fats are found naturally in animal products, including meat and dairy products, but even these are not as problematic as industrially-produced trans fats that are pumped to all kinds of packaged foods.
Also known as hydrogenated oil, people who eat a lot of trans fats in the form of margarine, baked goods bought at the store, french fries and crackers, frozen and canned foods and creamy drinks have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Studies have shown that high consumption of trans fats also leads to earlier cognitive impairment, lower brain volume, and poorer memory.
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2. Sugary drinks
Sugary drinks such as soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and even fruit juices have little or no nutritional value. Regular consumption of sugary drinks can lead to a large number of physical disabilities, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and, yes, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
It has been shown that a high intake of fructose, a mega concentrated sweetener found in many sugary drinks, reduces learning capacity, memory, general brain function and the formation of new neurons in the brain. It can also lead to an increase in inflammation in the brain, which negatively affects all types of brain function.
3. Refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates are products made from processed grains. They may not necessarily have a sweet taste, but they break down into sugar in your body very quickly. This is because the refining process removes all fibre and nutrition from the original grain. A meal rich in refined carbohydrates represents a high glycemic load that increases blood sugar.
That causes the same problems as if you had eaten pure sugar, including memory impairment, inflammation and an increased risk of developing dementia. Studies have shown that children who eat diets high in refined carbohydrates get lower test scores. of nonverbal intelligence. And older people who eat more than 58% of their daily calories in refined carbohydrates have twice the risk of mental disability and dementia than those who eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
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4. Processed and packaged foods
Processed and packaged foods eliminate important nutrition from whole foods and replace them with sugar, fat, and salt. This is our so-called western diet, which is based on convenience and fast foods instead of slow-cooked homemade meals. And we understand it: people are busy and sometimes it is simply not possible to make their sauces, dressings, pasta, and baked goods.
However, it is important to cook with whole nutritious foods as often as possible, since the Western diet is known to cause an accumulation of fat around vital organs. This, in turn, is associated with damage to brain tissue and a reduction in brain volume. It can also cause disruptions in the blood-brain barrier, the membrane responsible for protecting the brain from harmful substances.
It is probably not surprising that alcohol can damage the brain, considering the number of stupid things that people tend to do under the influence. Getting drunk from time to time will probably not cause permanent damage, but alcoholism and drunken episodes can.
Chronic alcohol consumption tends to reduce the size of the brain and disrupt the neurotransmitters that the brain uses to communicate. Alcoholics also often experience a vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead to the development of Korsakoff syndrome. That syndrome is responsible for severe brain damage that causes memory loss, confusion, instability, and intermittent vision loss.
6. Fish rich in mercury
Fish, in general, is a healthy addition to your diet. It is low in saturated fat but contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin B12, zinc, iron and magnesium. However, some fish are especially rich in mercury, which is a heavy metal contaminant and a neurological poison. Mercury remains stored in animal tissue (including humans) for a long time.
Fish that are more long-lived and predators tend to have the highest concentration of mercury in their meat. That is because while they live, they consume other fish that contain lower levels of mercury. Throughout life, these fish can accumulate mercury levels of 1 million times the concentration in the water in which they swim. It is better to avoid or seriously limit your consumption of tuna, swordfish, swordfish, horse mackerel, shark and whale fish to prevent disruption of your brain’s neurotransmitters.
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Unfortunately, it is not possible to avoid the damage of excess sugar by replacing it with an artificial sweetener, especially not with aspartame. While the producers of this sugar substitute swear that it is safe, several studies have linked aspartame with behavioural and cognitive problems. As a chemical stressor, it can cause harmful effects on the ability to learn and regulate emotions.
In one study, just 8 days of a high aspartame diet causes participants to get a lower score on mental tests and feel more irritable and depressed. Another study revealed that people who drink many diet sodas, which replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, have an increased risk of dementia or stroke. For now, the FDA says that aspartame is safe, but it also requires warning labels on products that contain it.
There is no doubt that your diet plays an important role in brain health throughout your life. Avoiding or seriously reducing your consumption of the 7 foods on our list can improve your cognitive abilities every day, as well as in the future when the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia increases.
In general, the more healthy whole foods you can eat, the better your brain will be protected. And a clear and happy brain will also remind you how much good you are doing for your body. In the end, it is worth being able to look back on your life and still have all your good memories.
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