Stay away from these 6 foods to keep your brain healthy
Saying that our brain is important is a gross understatement. Our brain is the main general that commands the army we call our body. It keeps our heart beating, our lungs breathing and our soul living. Needless to say, if we want to go about our days with as few bodily problems as possible, we need to keep our brain in pretty good nick. And where do we start? With our food because it is one of the easiest things that we can control. We have to be careful as some food can negatively affect our brain, memory, and mood. Some food may even increase the risk of getting conditions such as dementia!
For your ease, we have compiled 6 foods you should avoid for the sake of your brain.
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High intake of sugary drinks including soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and fruit juice not only can increase your weight, but it also heightens the risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes and heart disease - and coincidentally, none of these conditions are good for your brain! Type 2 diabetes boosts the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease while high sugar levels in general increase the risk of dementia. The reason being is the presence of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is a primary component of various sugary drinks. Large amounts of this sugar called fructose can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, high blood fats, diabetes, and arterial dysfunction - all of which also increase the risk of dementia! If you feel that you may wish to cut down on those sugary drinks, consider alternatives such as water, unsweetened iced tea, vegetable juice, and unsweetened dairy products.
Highly Processed Foods
Processed foods tend to be higher in sugar, added fats, and salt. Examples of processed food are crisps, sweets, instant noodles, microwave popcorn, and ready-made meals. While they may be high in calories, they have a lower content in terms of other nutrients. Studies have found that highly processed food can cause an increase of fat around the organs which is associated with brain tissue damage. Other studies have found that when you eat highly processed food, you get a lower sugar metabolism in the brain and a decrease in brain tissue which is thought to be markers for Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, consumption of this food is even associated with lower scores in learning and memory!
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Refined carbohydrates such as highly processed grains like white flour have a high glycemic index (GI). This means that our body tends to digest them rapidly which can lead to spikes in our blood sugar levels! Moreover, when these foods often have a high glycemic load (GL) which means that based on serving size, the food can raise your blood sugar levels to a large extent. Apart from getting a sudden sugar rush, studies have found that foods with high-GI and high-GL have been found to reduce brain function! Research has shown that a single meal with a high glycemic load can impair memory which may be due to inflammation of a part of the brain that affects memory. In turn, the occurrence of inflammation increases the risk of degenerative diseases of the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. If you’re looking for carbs that do not have that high sugar load, try to go for vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
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When consumed appropriately, alcohol can be a delicious addition to your meal. However, excessive consumption can have numerous negative effects on the brain. Chronic alcohol use can lead to a decrease in brain volume, metabolic changes, and disruption of neurotransmitters (chemicals the brain uses to communicate), all of which can affect brain functioning. People with alcoholism also frequently have a deficiency in vitamin B1 which can result in a brain disorder called Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which can later develop into Korsakoff’s syndrome as distinguished by severe damage to the brain. While moderate alcohol consumption is acceptable to lower the risk of developing all these conditions, it should be noted that alcohol is a big no-no for pregnant ladies. In this case, we are concerned as the toxic effects of alcohol can lead to developmental disorders in the fetus like fetal alcohol syndrome. Remember that it's all well and fine to have fun, but always put the health of yourself and your loved ones first!
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Food with High Content of Trans Fats
Trans fats are a certain type of unsaturated fat. While trans fats that naturally occur in animal products may not be a major concern, industrially produced trans fats are the real problem. These artificial trans fats can be found in margarine, frosting, snack foods, ready-made cakes as well as prepackaged cookies. Sounds scrumptious? Unfortunately, numerous studies have found the consumption of higher amounts of trans fats is linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, poorer memory, lower brain volume, and cognitive decline. It should be noted that there are studies that have not found an association between trans-fat intake and brain health, however, it is recommended that trans fats should be avoided given their negative effect on other aspects of health. Instead of picking up that third slice of cake, try to go for food containing omega-3 fatty acids that can help to protect against cognitive declines such as fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, or fish oil supplements.
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Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in many sugar-free products. Though the current evidence from research has been controversial, aspartame has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems, though the research has been controversial. What we do know is that aspartame is made of phenylalanine, methanol, and aspartic acid. The issue here is that phenylalanine can cross the blood-brain barrier and in effect can interfere with the production of neurotransmitters. Furthermore, aspartame is a chemical stressor and may elevate the brain’s vulnerability to oxidative stress! Another study found people who consumed artificially sweetened soft drinks had an increased risk of stroke and dementia while another study involving mice found that it may contribute to impaired memory and increased oxidative stress in the brain. It would be a good idea to try to avoid it as much as you!
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