Is Your Diet Affecting Your Brain Functioning?
Are you aware that the foods you choose to eat have a profound impact on your overall health? Most importantly, it has the potential to damage your body’s most complex organ: your brain that is working for you, 24/7! Surprisingly, the food you eat has an effect on neurons, which are key cells in the brain. Research studies show that poor diets can increase the risk for mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases and can cause problems with cognitive functions (1) (2).
“Why do my parents tell me to eat more fruits and vegetables and less junk food?” you may have wondered. The answer is, “You are what you eat!” What we eat has an impact on the makeup and activities of our cells. To keep our cells and organs healthy, including the brain, we must eat a nutritious diet with adequate nutrient levels on a regular basis. Did you know your gut and brain are connected? Nerve cells send and receive messages between these two biological organs. Gut neurons detect food and send signals to the brain, which alerts us. The name given to this link and the communication that results is the gut-brain pathway. Because of the gut-brain axis, it is not surprising that an improper diet may impair cognitive skills such as remembering, learning, and reasoning.
Foods To Avoid To Keep The Brain Healthy
When it comes to keeping the brain healthy, knowing which meals to avoid is just as important as knowing which foods to eat! A bad diet can harm your body as well as your mind. To summarise, a healthy diet makes the brain happy, so we should all pay attention to what we eat.
- Sugary Drinks : High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), composed of 55% fructose and 45% glucose, is a primary component of many sugary drinks. Obesity, high blood pressure, high blood fats, diabetes, and arterial dysfunction can all be caused by a high fructose intake. These features of metabolic syndrome may increase the long-term risk of developing dementia (3).
- Refined Carbs : Sugars and highly processed grains such as white flour are examples of refined carbohydrates. These carbohydrates typically have a high glycemic index (GI). This means that your body digests them quickly, resulting in a rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. Consuming refined carbs drastically increases risk of many diseases such as obesity, heart diseases and type 2 diabetes (4).
- Foods High in Trans Fats : Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat that can be harmful to brain health. Shortening, margarine, frosting, snack foods, ready-made cakes, and prepackaged cookies all contain artificial trans fats. Studies have shown high trans fat is associated with less cerebral brain volume (3) (5).
- Highly Processed Foods : Sugar, added fats, and salt are common ingredients in highly processed foods. Chips, sweets, instant noodles, microwave popcorn, store-bought sauces, and ready-made meals are amongst them. These foods are typically high in calories but low in nutrients. They are precisely the types of foods that contribute to weight gain, which can have a negative impact on your brain health. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology in 2019 discovered that poor eating habits were linked to a decline in brain function, including an increased risk of dementia (3).
- Alcohol : Alcohol, when consumed in moderation, can be an enjoyable addition to a nice meal. Excessive consumption, on the other hand, can have serious consequences for the brain. Chronic alcohol consumption reduces brain volume, causes metabolic changes, and disrupts neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that the brain uses to communicate (3).
At The End Of The Day
The brain is responsible for a variety of important functions, including regulating our mental and physical health. As a result, we must work diligently to keep it healthy! Eating a healthy diet and minimising the consumption of ultra-processed foods is essential for brain health. Consuming nutrient-dense foods also offers a protective effect. The brains of those who ate 1.3 servings of leafy green vegetables such as kale, collard greens and spinach were an average of 11 years younger than the brains of their peers who ate .09 servings of leafy greens, according to 2017 research (6).
“Altering our diet has limited capacity to fix the damage already done but it will ensure that less further damage is done.”
Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only and should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for medical diagnosis and treatment.