Sugary drinks such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks and even fruit juices have little or no nutritional value. Regular consumption of sugary drinks can lead to many physical problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
A high intake of fructose, a highly concentrated sweetener found in many sweetened beverages, reduces learning abilities, memory, overall brain function and the formation of new neurons in the brain. It can also lead to increased inflammation of the brain, which negatively affects all types of brain function.
Refined carbohydrates are products made from processed grains. They do not necessarily have a sweet taste, but they break down very quickly in sugar in your body. This is because the refining process removes all fibres and nutrition from the original grain. A meal rich in refined carbohydrates represents a high glycaemic load that increases your blood sugar.
This causes all the same problems as if you had eaten normal sugar, including impaired memory, inflammation and a higher risk of developing dementia. Studies have shown that children whose diets are rich in refined carbohydrates score lower than nonverbal intelligence tests. And seniors who consume more than 58% of their daily calories in refined carbohydrates are twice as likely to have mental retardation and dementia as those who consume more whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Processed and Packaged Foods
Processed and packaged foods remove important foods from whole foods and replace them with sugar, fats and salt. This is our western diet, which relies on convenience and fast food versus slow cooked homemade meals. And we understand it – people are busy and sometimes it’s not possible to make your own sauces, salad dressings, pasta and pastries.
However, it is important to cook with complete nutritious foods as often as you can, as the Western diet is known to cause fat build-up around vital organs. This, in turn, is associated with damage to brain tissue and a reduction in brain volume. It can also cause disruption of the blood-brain barrier, the membrane responsible for protecting the brain from harmful substances.
It is probably not surprising that alcohol can damage the brain, given the amount of stupidity that people tend to do under the influence. Being intoxicated from time to time will probably not cause permanent damage, but alcoholism and excessive drinking can do so.
Chronic alcohol use tends to shrink the brain and disrupt the neurotransmitters your brain uses to communicate. Alcoholics also often suffer from vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead to the development of Korsakoff syndrome. This syndrome is responsible for severe brain damage resulting in memory loss, confusion, instability and intermittent vision loss.
Fish High in Mercury.
Fish in general is a healthy supplement to your diet. It contains little omega-3 fatty acids, but also vitamin B12, zinc, iron and magnesium. However, some fish are particularly rich in mercury, which is a heavy metal contaminant and a neurological poison. Mercury remains stored in animal tissues (including humans) for a long time.
Fish that live longer and are predators tend to have the highest concentration of mercury in their flesh. This is because they live as long as other fish that contain less mercury. During their lifetime, these fish can accumulate mercury levels 1 million times higher than those of the water in which they swim. It is best to avoid or severely limit your consumption of tuna, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, mackerel, shark and carp disturbance of neurotransmitters in your brain.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to avoid the harmful effects of excess sugar by replacing it with an artificial sweetener, especially not aspartame. While producers of this sugar substitute swear it is safe, several studies have linked aspartame to behavioral and cognitive problems. As a chemical stressor, it can have deleterious effects on the ability to learn and regulate emotions.
In one study, after only eight days of aspartame-rich diet, participants score lower than mental tests and feel more irritable and depressed. Another study found that people who drink a lot of diet soft drinks, which replace sugar with an artificial sweetener, have an increased risk of dementia or stroke. For now, the FDA claims that aspartame is safe, but also imposes warning labels on products that contain it.
There is no doubt that your diet plays an important role in brain health during your life. Avoiding or seriously reducing your consumption of the 7 foods on our list can improve your cognitive abilities daily and in the future as your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia increases.
In general, the more healthy whole foods you can eat, the better your brain will be protected. And a clear and happy brain will remind you of all the good you do for your body. In the end, it’s worth it to get back on your life and still have all your good memories.