We all forget people’s names, misplace our keys, and leave our phones behind. It can be challenging to determine whether your forgetfulness is a temporary sign of living a crazy modern life or if your occasional brain fog is actually a sign of your brain aging faster than you would expect it to. This is because occasional brain fog is very common and has a lot of potential triggers (lack of sleep, medications, stress, depression, etc.).
You should keep in mind that your diet over time may hasten memory loss and other symptoms of cognitive decline that are linked to aging of the brain in order to help you remain intellectually sharp.
Although there is still much to understand about the many types and origins of dementia as well as the mechanisms behind the anomalies that distinguish Alzheimer’s disease, mounting evidence points to the crucial role that nutrition may play in these conditions.
Uma Naidoo, MD, a nutritional psychiatrist and professional chef, asserts that “what we eat impacts more than just our body; it also affects our brain.”
Eating a serving of fries won’t fry your brain. Over time, consistent intake of those unhealthy foods may impair your cognitive function just as it may raise your risk of developing other aging-related diseases including heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Let’s go through the categories of foods that are bad for our health and the science that supports their risks.
1– Consuming excessive amounts of red meat
The relationship between the brain and the stomach is one way that diet affects cognitive performance. According to science, an imbalanced microbiota may affect the chemistry of our brain, particularly neurochemicals such as serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine that can affect memory and learning.
Trimethylamine N-oxide, which is a byproduct of the gut bacteria metabolism, has been linked to increased amounts of red meat intake, according to a study released in the European Heart Journal. High TMAO concentrations may increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Chronic inflammation, particularly brain inflammation, which may alter blood flow to the brain, is also associated with an unhealthy microbiota. Dr. Naidoo states that “changes in gut flora may also increase amyloid deposition, ultimately leading to Alzheimer’s disease.”
2 — High-Fructose Corn Syrup with Cane Sugar
High-fructose corn syrup and cane sugar, the low-cost liquid sweetener that food producers add to processed goods to enhance the taste and keep us wanting to eat them, both include fructose, the sugar found in nutritious fruit. In our food supply, HFCS and cane sugar are so pervasive (found in soft drinks, condiments, baked goods, salad dressings, candies, bread loaves, canned soups, and other processed foods), they pose a serious risk to the brain over time if consumed in excess.
According to the US Dept. of Agriculture, a typical American consumes 35 pounds of HFCS and 47 pounds of cane sugar annually. Studies on rodents indicate that consuming large amounts of fructose may affect the way that brain cells communicate with one another, resulting in memory loss and impairing learning. According to UCLA researcher Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, PhD, the findings “indicate that consuming a high-fructose diet over the long term impairs your brain’s capacity to retain and recall information.”
3 — Extremely Processed Foods
Count how many boxes or cans you open during the day. It could really open your eyes. A recent study found that executive skills like multitasking and memory degrade more quickly in those who consume more than 20% of their daily calories from the ultra-processed meals.
According to the study, men and women who consumed the most ultra-processed meals saw a 28% quicker deterioration in memory, verbal fluency, attention, visual/spacial ability, and executive function than those who consumed the least quantity of these foods. Premade frozen meals, pretzels, potato chips, ice cream, store-bought bread, pastries, cereals, cake mixes, packaged snack items, and more are examples of highly processed foods.
4 — Foods that are Fried
The most ultra-processed meals on the earth include fried dishes like French fries, fried jalapeño poppers, fried chicken, fried okra, deep-fried Oreo cookies and others. These meals are also highly inflammatory, which raises a potential explanation for the findings of a significant research including more than 18,000 individuals from the “stroke belt,” an area of the Southeast where the “southern-fried” cookery is popular.
Other research has revealed a strong link between fried meals and blood vessel inflammation. This one showed that those who consumed the most fried foods in their diets performed the worst on tests of memory and cognition.