The brain is the most important organ behind the functioning of the body. There are, many more vital organs without which you cannot survive, but at the same time, it should be kept in mind that all these organs are controlled by the brain. After all, the brain is the archive of the human body which makes you a unique person. This is because all your thoughts, memories and feelings are stored in your brain. Keeping this in mind, it is necessary to ensure that this vital organ is kept healthy always. Most of us keep our brain healthy not only by exercising regularly but also by meditating in order to keep the brain sharp and focused. At the same time, we often forget that food also plays a key role in keeping the brain healthy and happy. One must keep in mind that healthy eating could slow down the rate of aging-related cognitive decline and reduces the risk of avoiding dementia. On the other side, there are foods that are just harmful for your brain. If you consume these types of foods more often, then you will likely experience confusion, low mood, and slowed reaction times.
Sugary or sweetened drinks include energy drinks; soda, fruit juice, and sports drinks. If there is regular consumption of such drinks, it would not only have a negative impact on your brain but also make you prone to a whole host of physical impairments such as type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. This is because most of these sweetened drinks include 45% glucose and 55% fructose. High intake of fructose could cause insulin resistance in one’s brain and a reduction in the formation of neurons, brain functioning, and memory. A healthy alternative to these sugary sweetened drinks could be water.
Refined carbohydrates include products that are made with processed grains and sugar. All these products may not necessarily taste sweet but break down into sugar in the human body quickly. The reason for this is that the fiber and nutrition are taken out of the product during its refining process. Refined Carbohydrates contain a high hypoglycemic index which means that these foods are quickly digested and lead to a spike in blood sugar as well as insulin levels. Furthermore, the increase in blood sugar levels could lead to the impairment of the brain. The physical impairments that one suffers from consuming a large number of refined carbohydrates are memory impairment, inflammation, and a higher risk of developing dementia. Studies have shown that children who had a higher intake of refined carbohydrates scored fewer score in nonverbal intelligence tests. Furthermore, 58% of elderly people who consumed more than 58% of calories in refined carbohydrates had twice the risk than those who ate more grains, fruits, and vegetables. Therefore, a healthy alternative to refined carbohydrates would be whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Transfats can be found in the form of margarine, store-bought baked goods, chips and crackers, frozen and canned meals, and creamy beverages. Studies have found that 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. The healthy alternative to trans fats is walnuts.
Processed and packaged foods
Processed and packaged foods include sweets, popcorn, chips, noodles, pasta and readymade sauces. They are harmful to the brain because the essential nutrition is removed from whole food and is replaced with higher sugar levels, fats, and salt. Since processed and packaged foods are low in nutrient and high in calories, they lead to negative brain health. Along with that, it is found that people who consumed higher levels of processed and packaged foods accumulated fats around various organs. Once these fats are accumulated around vital organs, it could be related to damage to the brain tissue and reduction in the brain’s volume. Additionally, it may lead to disruptions to the blood-brain barrier which is responsible for protecting the brain from harmful substances. A healthy alternative to processed and packaged food is whole food that can give you the required nutrition for your brain.
Fish with high mercury levels
Generally, fish is a healthy addition to one’s diet because it is low in saturated fats and contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin B12, zinc, iron and magnesium. But, there are fishes that are harmful to the brain because they contain mercury, a heavy metal contaminant and a neurological poison that lasts for long in the human body. When you consume fish with higher mercury levels, the mercury spreads all over the human body and the highest concentration of mercury is in the liver, brain and the kidney. The effects of mercury are so impactful that they lead to the disruption of the nervous system as well as neurotoxins which lead to brain damage. Along with that, the toxicity of mercury may cause a disruption in brain development in unborn babies and young kids which may lead to developmental delays such as cerebral palsy. Therefore, it is best to avoid fish such as tuna, swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish because of their high mercury content. Instead, one could incorporate fish with lower mercury levels and seafood such as salmon, sardine, shrimp and cod in their diets
Chronic consumption of alcohol could be harmful to your brain because it may result in metabolic changes, reduced brain volume and disrupt the neurotransmitters. In most cases, alcoholics often suffer a vitamin B1 deficiency which can lead to the development of Korsakoff’s syndrome. The syndrome is characterized by severe brain damage including unsteadiness, confusion, memory loss and disturbances in eyesight. Hence, it is best to stay away from alcohol.
To summarise, the six kinds of foods that you need to avoid are sugary drinks, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, processed and packaged foods, fish high in mercury levels and alcohol. When you avoid harmful food in your diet, you take a step towards increasing cognitive abilities every day and preventing Alzheimer’s disease in the future. Moreover, by including healthy alternatives in your diet, you keep your brain healthy, happy, and sharp and ensure that your brain is focussed always.