What foods kill brain cells? In the food industry, you will find plenty of those claiming to have anti-oxidants or anti-cancer properties. Thanks to these foods, people are becoming more aware of how certain food items can be beneficial to health and also potentially detrimental.
Food is a powerful hormone, the secret to having the body you want and staying healthy. However, with so many different foods on the shelves, it can be difficult to know which one you should be eating. While there are just some super healthy foods that are good for your overall health, there are others that are perfect for killing brain cells or damaging your brain cells in general.
The 7 Worst Foods for Your Brain
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 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
In addition, higher sugar levels in the blood can increase the risk of dementia, even in people without diabetes
A primary component of many sugary drinks is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which consists of 55% fructose and 45% glucose
A high intake of fructose can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, high blood fats, diabetes and arterial dysfunction. These aspects of metabolic syndrome may lead to an increase in the long-term risk of developing dementia
Animal studies have shown that a high fructose intake can lead to insulin resistance in the brain, as well as a reduction in brain function, memory, learning and the formation of brain neurons
One study in rats found that a diet high in sugar increased brain inflammation and impaired memory. Additionally, rats that consumed a diet consisting of 11% HFCS were worse than those whose diets consisted of 11% regular sugar.
Another study found that rats fed a high-fructose diet gained more weight, had worse blood sugar control and a higher risk of metabolic disorders and memory impairments.
While further studies in humans are needed, the results suggest that a high intake of fructose from sugary drinks may have additional negative effects on the brain, beyond the effects of sugar.
Some alternatives to sugary drinks include water, unsweetened iced tea, vegetable juice and unsweetened dairy products.
Summary A high intake of
sugary drinks may increase the risk of dementia. High-fructose corn syrup
(HFCS) may be especially harmful, causing brain inflammation and impairing
memory and learning. Further studies in humans are needed.
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.
Foods that are high-GI and high-GL have been found to impair brain function.
Research has shown that just a single meal with a high glycemic load can impair memory in both children and adults.
Another study in healthy university students found that those who had a higher intake of fat and refined sugar also had poorer memory .
Inflammation is recognized as a risk factor for degenerative diseases of the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
For example, one study looked at elderly people who consumed more than 58% of their daily calories in the form of carbohydrates. The study found they had almost double the risk of mild mental impairment and dementia .
Carbohydrates may have other effects on the brain too. For example, one study found that children aged six to seven who consumed diets high in refined carbs also scored lower on nonverbal intelligence.
However, this study could not determine whether consuming refined carbs caused these lower scores, or simply whether the two factors were related.
Healthy, lower-GI carbs include foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. You can use this database to find the GI and GL of common foods.
Summary A high intake of refined
carbs with a high glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) may impair memory
and intelligence, as well as increase the risk of dementia. These include
sugars and highly processed grains like white flour.
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 .
The evidence on saturated fat is mixed. Three observational studies have found a positive association between saturated fat intake and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, whereas a fourth study showed the opposite effect .
One cause for this may be that a subset of the test populations had a genetic susceptibility to the disease, which is caused by a gene known as ApoE4. However, more research is required on this topic .
One study of 38 women found that those who consumed more saturated fat relative to unsaturated fat performed worse on memory and recognition measures .
Thus, it may be that the relative ratios of fat in the diet are an important factor, not just the type of fat itself.
For example, diets high in omega-3 fatty acids have been found to help protect against cognitive decline. Omega-3s increase the secretion of anti-inflammatory compounds in the brain and can have a protective effect, especially in older adults .
You can increase the amount of omega-3 fats in your diet by eating foods like fish, chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.
Trans fats may be associated with impaired memory and the risk of Alzheimer’s, but the evidence is mixed. Cutting out trans fats completely and increasing the unsaturated fats in your diet may be a good strategy.
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.
A study in 243 people found increased fat around the organs, or visceral fat, is associated with brain tissue damage. Another study in 130 people found there’s a measurable decrease in brain tissue even in the early stages of metabolic syndrome
The nutrient composition of processed foods in the Western diet can also negatively affect the brain and contribute to the development of degenerative diseases
A study including 52 people found that a diet high in unhealthy ingredients resulted in lower levels of sugar metabolism in the brain and a decrease in brain tissue. These factors are thought to be markers for Alzheimer’s disease.
Another study including 18,080 people found that a diet high in fried foods and processed meats is associated with lower scores in learning and memory .
Similar results were found in another large-scale study in 5,038 people. A diet high in red meat, processed meat, baked beans and fried food was associated with inflammation and a faster decline in reasoning over 10 years .
In animal studies, rats fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet for eight months showed impaired learning ability and negative changes to brain plasticity. Another study found that rats fed a high-calorie diet experienced disruptions to the blood-brain barrier
The blood-brain barrier is a membrane between the brain and blood supply for the rest of the body. It helps protect the brain by preventing some substances from entering.
One of the ways processed foods may negatively impact the brain is by reducing the production of a molecule called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
This molecule is found in various parts of the brain, including the hippocampus, and it’s important for long-term memory, learning and the growth of new neurons. Therefore, any reduction can have negative impacts on these functions .
You can avoid processed foods by eating mostly fresh, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, meat and fish. Additionally, a Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to protect against cognitive decline .
Summary Processed foods
contribute to excess fat around the organs, which is associated with a decline
in brain tissue. Additionally, Western-style diets may increase brain
inflammation and impair memory, learning, brain plasticity and the blood-brain
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 .
One study looked at the effects of a high-aspartame diet. Participants consumed about 11 mg of aspartame for every pound of their body weight (25 mg per kg) for eight days.
By the end of the study, they were more irritable, had a higher rate of depression and performed worse on mental tests.
Another study found people who consumed artificially sweetened soft drinks had an increased risk of stroke and dementia, though the exact type of sweetener was not specified.
Some experimental research in mice and rats has also supported these findings.
A study of repeated aspartame intake in mice found that it impaired memory and increased oxidative stress in the brain. Another found that long-term intake led to an imbalance in antioxidant status in the brain.
Other animal experiments have not found any negative effects, though these were often large, single-dose experiments rather than long-term ones. Additionally, mice and rats are reportedly 60 times less sensitive to phenylalanine than humans.
Despite these findings, aspartame is still considered to be a safe sweetener overall if people consume it at about 18–23 mg per pound (40–50 mg per kg) of body weight per day or less.
According to these guidelines, a 150-pound (68-kg) person should keep their aspartame intake under about 3,400 mg per day, at the maximum.
Summary Aspartame is an
artificial sweetener found in many soft drinks and sugar-free products. It has
been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems, though overall it is
considered a safe product.
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
People with alcoholism often have a deficiency in vitamin B1. This can lead to a brain disorder called Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which in turn can develop into Korsakoff’s syndrome.
This syndrome is distinguished by severe damage to the brain, including memory loss, disturbances in eyesight, confusion and unsteadiness.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can also have negative effects in non-alcoholics.
Heavy one-off drinking episodes are known as “binge drinking.” These acute episodes can cause the brain to interpret emotional cues differently than normal. For example, people have a reduced sensitivity to sad faces and an increased sensitivity to angry faces.
It’s thought that these changes to emotion recognition may be a cause of alcohol-related aggression
Furthermore, alcohol consumption during pregnancy can have devastating effects on the fetus. Given that its brain is still developing, the toxic effects of alcohol can result in developmental disorders like fetal alcohol syndrome
The effect of alcohol abuse in teenagers can also be particularly damaging, as the brain is still developing. Teenagers who drink alcohol have abnormalities in brain structure, function and behavior, compared to those who don’t.
Particularly, alcoholic beverages mixed with energy drinks are concerning. They result in increased rates of binge drinking, impaired driving, risky behavior and an increased risk of alcohol dependence.
An additional effect of alcohol is the disruption of sleep patterns. Drinking a large amount of alcohol before bed is associated with poor sleep quality, which can lead to chronic sleep deprivation
However, moderate alcohol consumption may have beneficial effects, including improved heart health and a reduced risk of diabetes. These beneficial effects have been particularly noted in moderate wine consumption of one glass per day .
Overall, you should avoid excessive alcohol consumption, especially if you’re a teenager or young adult, and avoid binge drinking entirely.
If you are pregnant, it is safest to avoid drinking alcohol altogether.
Summary While moderate alcohol
intake can have some positive health effects, excessive consumption can lead to
memory loss, behavioral changes and sleep disruption. Particularly high-risk
groups include teenagers, young adults and pregnant women.
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
However, most fish are not a significant source of mercury. In fact, fish is a high-quality protein and contains many important nutrients, such as omega-3s, vitamin B12, zinc, iron and magnesium. Therefore, it is important to include fish as part of a healthy diet.
Generally, it is recommended that adults eat two to three servings of fish per week. However, if you’re eating shark or swordfish, only consume one serving, and then no other fish that week
Pregnant women and children should avoid or limit high-mercury fish, including shark, swordfish, tuna, orange roughy, king mackerel and tilefish. However, it’s still safe to have two to three servings of other low-mercury fish per week
Recommendations may differ from country to country, depending on the types of fish in your area, so it’s always best to check with your local food safety agency for the recommendations that are right for you.
Also, if you are catching your own fish, it is a good idea to check with local authorities about the levels of mercury in the water you are fishing from.
5 FOODS THAT DAMAGE YOUR BRAIN
If you know you have unhealthy eating habits, it is about time you start scaling down because that bad habit might just be affecting your brain negatively.
The brain is arguably the most important organ in your body as the brain controls all other parts of your body and it is the repository of everything that makes you, you. With this in mind, there is no gainsaying that the brain needs to be kept healthy.
Proper nutrition can mean the difference between a clear head with a sense of purpose and a foggy head with a sense of desperation. As a lifelong habit, healthy eating also slows the rate of aging-related cognitive decline and reduces the risk of developing dementia.
In this article, we have listed five items you need to remove from your diet to protect the health of your brain for the long haul according to Organic Welcome.
Brain damaging foods | Photo – Healthline
These are products made with processed grains and they are bad for your brain because they break down into sugar in your body very quickly even though they may not necessarily taste sweet.
A meal rich in refined carbohydrates represents a high glycemic load that spikes your blood sugar and causes all the same issues as if you had eaten straight sugar, including memory impairment, inflammation, and a higher risk of developing dementia. Studies have shown that children who consume diets high in refined carbohydrates score lower on nonverbal intelligence tests while elderly people who take in more than 58% of their daily calories in refined carbs have twice the risk of mental impairment and dementia than those who eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Trans fats are found naturally in animal products including meat and dairy, margarine, store-bought baked goods, chips and crackers, frozen and canned meals, and creamy beverages. Otherwise known as hydrogenated oil, those who eat trans fat are at a greater risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia. Studies have shown that high consumption of trans fats also leads to earlier cognitive decline, lower brain volume, and poorer memory. It is noteworthy that not all fats are bad for you but trans fat has a detrimental effect on your brain.
Processed and Packaged Foods
Processed and packaged foods although providing convenience and fast food cannot be compared to slow-cooked homemade meals. Relying on a processed and packaged diet is notorious for causing an accumulation of fat around the vital organs which in turn is associated with damage to the brain tissue and a reduction in the brain’s volume. It may also cause disruptions to the blood-brain barrier, the membrane that is responsible for protecting the brain from harmful substances.
Many sugary drinks contain fructose (a mega-concentrated sweetener) which has been shown to reduce learning ability, memory, overall brain function, and the formation of new neurons in the brain. It may also lead to increased inflammation in the brain, which negatively affects all types of brain function.
Regular intake of sugary drinks can lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Cut down on your intake of sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and even fruit juice have little to no nutritional value.
Yes, you read that right, alcohol affects the brain negatively. A drink every now and then won’t cause permanent damage to the brain but alcoholism and bouts of binge drinking absolutely can. Heavy drinking shrinks the brain and disrupts the neurotransmitters that your brain uses to communicate. Alcoholics also often experience a vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead to the development of Korsakoff’s syndrome. That syndrome is responsible for severe brain damage that causes memory loss, confusion, unsteadiness, and intermittent loss of eyesight.
The medical information provided in this article is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment
These 5 foods and habits can damage your brain
Certain foods and habits can damage your brain
- Foods and habits play a huge role on the brain, one of the most important organs in the human body.
- While some impact this organ positively and aid its development, others can actually ruin the brain.
- Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa takes a look at five foods and habits that are capable of damaging the brain.
Scientists have linked high consumption of sugary drinks like soda, sports and energy drinks to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) – a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions.
It can also increase the risk of dementia (cognitive decline), Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, gout, weight gain, obesity and early death
New research has shown that a diet of junk food (anything high in saturated fat and sugar) for just one week is enough to damage a certain part of the brain called the hippocampus.
The affected part is what lets us know when we are full and need to stop eating.
According to the Lead author Professor Richard Stevenson of Macquarie University in Australia, “When we are full the hippocampus normally suppresses these memories, reducing our desire to eat.
“We found lean healthy young people exposed to one week of a junk food diet developed impaired hippocampal function and relatively greater desire to eat junk food when full.”
Eating junk food can also result in dementia, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and colorectal cancer.
“The current study suggests something similar occurs in humans, in that one week’s exposure causes a reduction in memory and learning performance, in addition to alterations in appetitive control, as measured by the wanting and liking test,” the Lead author Professor Stevenson added.
On the other hand, a healthy diet of whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables can preserve brain function and reduce mental decline.
Alcoholic drinks can negatively affect your sleep pattern, result in memory loss, and damage the serotonin level in the brain.
This particular chemical regulates mood, social behaviour, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, and even sexual desire
Drinking alcoholic drinks daily can also speed up the ageing process of the human brain.
Lack of adequate sleep increases the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and other neurological disorders. It can also harm your memory, and result in the loss of brain cells.
Scientists recommend getting at least 7 hours of undisturbed sleep every night as sleep is important for the health of the brain and overall well being
One study found that “a single 90-minute reduction in sleep decreased performance and alertness by a whopping 32%.”
Another one showed that consistent lack of sleep resulted in a significant decrease in brain volume and memory.
According to The Washington Post, “moving muscles pump fresh blood and oxygen through the brain and trigger the release of all sorts of brain- and mood-enhancing chemicals. When we are sedentary for a long time, everything slows, including brain function.”