Not all foods are good for the brain. Various foods have a negative impact on your brain, affecting your mood, memory and increasing the risk of brain-related conditions like dementia. You can lower your probability of having these conditions by eliminating some foods bad for brain from your diet. Here’s a list of the worst brain foods.
1. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbs include highly processed grains and sugars. They have a high hypoglycemic index (GI) meaning they are quickly digested leading to a spike in blood sugar as well as insulin levels. When eaten in larger amounts, refined carbs raise blood sugar levels which could impair the brain.
Based on research, a meal with a high glycemic load could impair memory in adults and kids. Students who took large amounts of refined sugar and fat were found to have poorer memory compared to those that consumed lower amounts.
Poor memory may be caused by the inflammation of hippocampus; a brain part that affects various memory aspects and also responsiveness to fullness and hunger. Inflammation is a major risk factor for brain degenerative diseases such as dementia.
One study based on elderly people showed that those who obtained more than 58% of daily calories from carbs posed a double risk of dementia and mental impairment. However, this also contradicts with findings of another study published in the journal Cell Reports showing that unrestricted low-protein, high-carb diets have similar protective benefits for the brain as calorie restriction, which is known for its longevity benefits although not sustainable in humans. Refined carbohydrates may negatively affect the brain in other ways.
Research found that kids between age 6 and 7 on diets with a lot of refined carbs had lower scores in nonverbal intelligence. However, the research study does not confirm if the lower score was caused by consuming refined carbohydrates.
2. Sugar-sweetened Drinks
Sweetened drinks are another class of foods bad for the brain. They include energy drinks, soda, fruit juice, and sports drinks. Increased intake of sugar-sweetened drinks not only has a negative impact on your brain but also increase your chances of suffering from heart disease and diabetes. They are not only foods bad for the brain, but they also lead to a significant weight increase.
High consumption of sugary drinks makes you susceptible to type-2 diabetes which increases the risk of developing Alzheimer ’s. Additionally, high sugar levels may be a risk factor for dementia. Most sugar-sweetened drinks comprise of 45% glucose and 55%fructose.
High intake of fructose could cause insulin resistance in your brain and a reduction in memory, brain function, the formation of neurons and learning. A study on rats showcased impaired memory and brain inflammation as a result of high sugar intake.
Rats that fed on high-fructose diets featured weight gain, memory impairments, a greater risk of metabolic-related disorders and bad blood sugar control. Although further research is needed, scientists suggest that high fructose intake from sugar-sweetened drinks might have more negative impacts on the human brain than sugar.
Healthier alternatives to sugar-sweetened drinks include vegetable juice, unsweetened ice tea, water, and Greek yoghurt.
Excessive consumption of alcohol has bad effects on your brain. It may result in metabolic changes, reduced brain volume, and neurotransmitters disruption. In most cases, alcoholics have low levels of Vitamin B1.
Vitamin B1 deficiency may lead to Wernicke’s encephalopathy, a brain disorder that could develop to Korsakoff’s syndrome. The syndrome is characterized by severe brain damage including unsteadiness, confusion, memory loss and disturbances in eyesight.
Excessive alcohol intake effects are not limited to alcoholics. “Binge drinking” can make the brain interpret emotional cues differently which may lead to alcohol-related aggression.
During pregnancy, alcohol consumption may have worse effects on the unborn baby. Their brain is developing and alcohol toxic effects could cause developmental disorders including fetal alcohol syndrome.
Alcohol intake has damaging effects on teenagers as their brains are yet to develop fully. They may have abnormal brain function, and structure leading to behavioural changes.
Mixing energy drinks with alcohol may result in higher rates of risky behaviour, impaired driving, binge drinking, and alcohol dependence. Consuming large amounts of alcohol just before bed may lead to poor sleep quality, posing a risk of sleep deprivation.
Consume alcohol moderately to improve your heart health and reduce the risk of diabetes. Teenagers and pregnant women should not drink.
4. Fish with High Mercury Levels
Here, we are not talking about all fish. Only high mercury-containing fish are foods bad for brain. This is because mercury, a heavy metal, is a neurological poison that lasts for so long in the body. Long-lived fish are more likely to accumulate mercury. For this reason, seafood is the number one source of mercury in people. Mercury spreads all over the body after consumption with the highest concentration in the liver brain and the kidney. It also affects the placenta and the fetus in pregnant women.
The effects of mercury include disruption of the nervous system as well as stimulation of neurotoxins leading to brain damage. Mercury toxicity may cause disruption on brain development in unborn babies and young kids. This poses a risk of developmental delays including cerebral palsy.
Remember, Fish is one of the good foods for the brain. So, in order not to miss out from the enormous health benefits and nutrients you can get from fish, the trick is to choose lower-mercury fish and seafood while avoiding the higher-mercury fish. Lower mercury sea fish include salmon, shrimp, cod, and sardines. Higher-mercury fish you should avoid or eat sparingly include, tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
5. Highly Processed Foods
These are foods bad for brain because they have high sugar levels, more fats, and salt. Some examples include sweets, microwave popcorn, chips, instant noodles, and ready-made sauces. These foods are low in nutrients and high in calories. They lead to negative brain health and weight gain
People who consumed high levels of [processed food is found to have fat surrounding various organs which leads to brain tissue damage. Decreased brain tissue may cause metabolic syndrome and insufficient blood supply to the brain.
Avoid highly processed foods. Replace them with whole foods and the Mediterranean –style diet for a healthier brain.
As seen above, many foods, instead of helping you to maintain a healthy brain will just negatively affect it. We call these bad foods for brain. By avoiding these foods in your daily diet, you can, therefore, be able to maintain the health of your brain as well as preserve its alertness, mood, and memory.