We all forget names, lose our keys and misplace our cell phones. Casual brain fog is so common and has so many potential triggers (lack of sleep, stress, medications, or depression, etc.) that it’s very hard to tell if your brain is aging faster than expected or if your forgetfulness is just a temporary symptom of experiencing a crazy modern life.
One thing you’ll definitely want to remember to help you stay mentally alert is that your eating habits over time can accelerate memory decline and other markers of declining cognitive function associated with brain aging.
We are learning even more about the various forms and causes of dementia and the mechanisms of the abnormalities that characterize Alzheimer’s diseasebut a growing body of research suggests that our diet plays a vital role.
“What we eat affects more than our body; it also affects our brain,” says Uma NaidooMDNutritional Psychiatrist, Qualified Chef and Director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Eating an order of fries isn’t going to fry your brain. It is the regular consumption of these unhealthy foods that can compromise your brain, just as it can increase the likelihood of suffering from other disorders associated with aging, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Let’s review the types of foods that negatively affect our health and the research behind their dangers.
The brain-gut connection is one of the ways food affects cognitive function. Science suggests an unbalanced mixture of healthy and unhealthy bacteria in our microbiome can influence our brain chemistry, especially neurochemicals like norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, which impact learning and memory.
A study published in the European journal of the heart found that eating too much red meat can increase levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a byproduct of gut bacteria metabolism. High levels of TMAO may be linked to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
An unhealthy microbiome is also linked to chronic inflammation, including brain inflammation, which can affect blood flow to the brain. “Additionally, changes in gut bacteria can increase amyloid deposits, contributing to Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Naidoo writes in his book. It’s your brain on the food.
Fructose is the sugar in healthy fruits, but it’s also found in cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the cheap liquid sweetener that food manufacturers add to foods. processed to improve flavor and allow us to eat them. Cane sugar and HFCS are so prevalent in our food supply (soft drinks, candies, condiments, salad dressings, canned soups, baked goods, breads and other processed foods) that they can pose a significant hazard to the brain during years of overindulgence. .
The United States Department of Agriculture reports that the average American swallows 47 pounds of cane sugar and 35 pounds of HFCS over the course of a year. This is so cute. Rodent studies suggest that getting a high dose of fructose could impair the ability of brain cells to signal to each other and cause memory loss and disrupt learning. The results suggest that “eating a high-fructose diet over the long term impairs your brain’s ability to learn and remember information,” said a UCLA researcher. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, PhDTold Daily Science.
Keep track of how often you open a box or can during the day. It could be a revelation. A recent study linked getting more than 20% of your daily calories from ultra-processed foods to faster cognitive decline, memory, and executive functions, like juggling multiple tasks at once.
The research determined that men and women who ate the most ultra-processed foods decreased their memory, attention, verbal fluency, and visual/spatial abilities 28% faster and executive functions 25% faster than people who ate the least highly processed foods. Highly processed foods include prepared frozen foods, chips and pretzels, ice cream, store-bought bread, cookies, cake mixes, cereals, packaged snacks, etc.
Fried foods — french fries, fried chicken, fried jalapeno poppers, fried batter-dipped Oreo cookies, fried okra and more — are some of the most ultra-processed foods on the planet. They’re also among the most inflammatory foods you can possibly eat, suggesting a possible reason for the results of a large study of more than 18,000 people from a Southeast region known as the “belt. d’AVC”, where “southern fried” cuisine is in the spotlight.
The link between fried foods and inflammation of blood vessels is well established by other studies. This one, published in the Journal of Nutritional Sciencesdemonstrated that participants whose diets included the most fried foods had the lowest scores on memory and cognition tests.
Jeff Csatari, a contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, is responsible for publishing Galvanized Media books and magazines and advising journalism students through the Zinczenko New Media Center at Bethlehem Moravian University, in Pennsylvania. Read more