What you eat heavily affects your brain.
The brain, like any organ in the body, needs nutrients for its functioning. Eating the correct ones will make the brain function properly. Eating the wrong ones will damage it.
The physical damage that can produce bad nutrients are of two types: either they prevent brain cells to absorb nutrients, or they damage the blood vessels that transport nutrients to the cells. Both damages produce the same type of physical effect: the malfunctioning of neurons and eventually, their dead if the damage persists in time.
The psychologycal effects of the damage vary depending in which sense nutrients do not reach the cell and where the blood vessels are damaged.
Here, you can find a list of foods that damage your brain, and in which sense:
- Very salty foods: salty foods increase blood pressure. Increases in the blood pressure may break capillaries in the brain, creating clots in the brain, killing by hence neurons. The effect is an inability to think properly and recall information. Blood vessels damage in the brain is one of the reasons for dementia.
- Junk food: junk food inhibits the production of dopamine, the hormone responsible of happiness in the brain, and also a controller of the memory. Low levels of dopamine in the brain have been linked to Parkinson’s disease. Also, junk food contains high levels of trans fats…
- Trans fats: allow the formation of plaques in the arteries. Plaques gradually pinch off the passage of blood through the arteries in the whole body, including the brain, restricting the passage to nervous cells. Fats also generate a lot of free radicals, since fats oxidate very quickly. Free radicals also kill neurons. This may be the reason why people that consumes high levels of trans fats have a smaller brain. Trans fats are also linked to Alzheimer’s. Foods that contain trans fats are for example processed pastries, fatty red meats, cashews cheese or whole milk.
- Fried foods: fried foods contain a high level of saturated fats and cholesterol. Those two elements are responsible of clots in the blood vessels of the brain, preventing the neural cells to have a correct irrigation and receive nutrients. In worst case scenarios, this can lead again to brain strokes.
- Sugary products and simple carbohydrates: eating sugary products has two bad effects on the brain:
- Development of insulin tolerance. Since insulin is necessary for brain cells to absorb glucose, insulin tolerance prevent the brain from receiving the energy it needs. Furthermore, insulin is present in several brain processes like learning tasks that involve learning and memory. Some studies show that a maintained level of low insulin can produce cognitive impairment, and if maintained for a long time can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Bursts of glucose. Simple carbohydrates such as pasta, bread and white rice turn very quickly into sugar once processed by the stomach. This implies that a lot of sugar is quickly deployed into the body. This produces high kicks of energy in the brain. But at the same time, the body releases large amounts of insulin to process that large amount of sugar. This action produces a low level of sugar in blood (hypoglucemia), which makes the brain unable to find its fuel for functioning. Those bursts and exhaustions of energy in the brain damage its cells and can kill them in the long term.
- Alcohol and nicotine: Nicotine restricts the blood flow to the brain, reducing by hence the delivery of healthy substances (oxygen and glucose) to the brain. Alcohol produces memory loses and in some cases even blackouts. Excessive alcohol intake is associated with impaired prospective memory, brain lesions and in general, a reduction of the ability of the executive functions of the brain.
- Artificial sweeteners: preliminary results on some research indicates that people who consumes artificial sweeteners perform worse in memory, recall and intelligence tests. Additionally, sweeteners are linked to cancer.
Most of us, we consume all of those nutrients, may be even daily, and we feel good anyway. However, the effects of all those foods on the brain are not in the short term, but in the long term (in our sixties and beyond). And your only chance to avoid have those problems in your sixties is to start now restricting your consumption of those products.
The good news are that, if your brain has already some damage, by starting now a good diet for your brain, you may be able to recover it and prevent its effects like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
You are still in time to recover your brain if you start right now.
If you wan to know more about good and bad foods for the brain, I recommend you the following books: