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Five foods you need to avoid to keep your brain healthy

While we all are aware of the basics of healthy and unhealthy food for our body, many of us skip paying specific attention to food that is unhealthy for our brain. Since time immemorial, we are taught that walnuts and almonds make you smarter, but what other foods are we ingesting that undo the good? 

Here’s a list of five foods, as compiled from Reader’s Digest, that directly affect your brain health, altering your memory as well as mood over time.

Fried Foods

food

This one’s a no-brainer. Excessive consumption of fried foods like french fries and fried chicken may affect more than just your waistline.  According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science, people whose diets were heavy in fried foods scored poorly on cognitive tests evaluating learning, memory, and brain function.

“Scientists think it may have something to do with inflammation and reduction in brain tissue size,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, RDN, in Denver, and co-author of Skinny Liver.

Sugar-sweetened beverages

The perils of soft-drinks aren’t lost on anyone. But did you know that fruit juice, energy drinks, and sweet tea are also just as bad for you? The reason is simple: sugar. “High amounts of sugars cause neurological damage because they trigger inflammation,” says Wesley Delbridge, RDN and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Interesting, a study published in 2017 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia found that people who regularly consume sugary drinks are more likely to have poorer memory, and smaller brain volume. So, consider skipping the sugar and instead opt to sweeten your drinks with slices of lemon, oranges, etc.

Refined carbs

carbs

Processed foods with high a glycemic index aren’t just bad for your blood sugar levels, but also negatively affect mental health. Foods like white bread, white rice, white pasta etc. are right up there on this list. A 2015 research by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that foods with a high glycemic index increase the risk of depression.

You are better off consuming complex carbs like whole wheat bread, brown rice, barley etc. instead.

Processed meats

A 2020 study in Neurology suggests that eating processed meat can increase your chances of developing dementia. Researchers found that participants who ate highly processed meats, such as sausages, cured meats, and pâté were more likely to have dementia.

“Though the data on saturated fat is mixed, highly processed food is another story and most likely the primary cause for (these) results,” says Kirkpatrick.

Fast food 

fast food

This one can be a bit hard to swallow but the highly saturated fats found in your favourite greasy burgers and fries can pose a serious health risk beyond your coronary arteries. According to research, it an make it harder to fight off Alzheimer’s-causing plaque! Not to mention, the sodium can cause serious brain fog.

High levels of sodium can cause high blood pressure, restricting blood flow to the brain which in turn can negatively impair focus, organizational skills, and memory.

You can fix a bad fast food habit by first regulating what you order, says Kirkpatrick. “Avoid fried options and opt for more whole grains and plants. Then change the number of days you go (for fast food) by half.”

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