5 Foods you should NEVER eat if you want to keep your brain sharp

Our brain health is vital for overall wellbeing, and what we eat can significantly impact it [1]. Let’s explore five foods you should avoid for better brain health.

Per CNBC, Harvard-trained psychiatrist, professional chef and trained nutrition specialist, Dr Uma Naidoo shares her knowledge on which to avoid:  

Artificial sweeteners

These have been associated with negative effects on gut bacteria, potentially leading to feelings of depression and anxiety.

Studies suggest that aspartame, a common artificial sweetener, may be particularly harmful, contributing to anxiety and oxidative stress in the brain [2].

In 2023, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Industrial and processed seed oils

Processed seed oils, commonly derived from soybeans, corn, rapeseed (used for canola oil), cottonseed, sunflower and safflower, are rich in omega-6 fatty acids.

Overindulging in omega-6s can prompt the body to generate substances that may cause inflammation in the brain [3].

For healthier cooking options when sautéing veggies or preparing fish or meat on the grill, consider olive, coconut or avocado oil.

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Processed foods with artificial additives

Highly processed foods loaded with artificial additives, preservatives and flavor enhancers can harm your brain [4].

These chemicals may disrupt neurotransmitter function, leading to mood disorders and cognitive decline.

Choose whole, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. These foods provide essential nutrients without harmful additives.

Sugary snacks and beverages

Refined sugars in sodas, candies, and processed snacks can wreak havoc on your brain. They lead to rapid blood sugar spikes followed by crashes, causing mood swings and cognitive impairment.

Over time, excessive sugar intake may contribute to conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease [5].

Instead, opt for natural sweeteners like honey or consume fruits in moderation. These choices provide a slower release of energy, keeping your brain steady throughout the day.

Trans fats and fried foods

Commonly found in fried foods, fast food and packaged snacks, trans fats can clog arteries and hinder blood flow to the brain [6].

This reduced blood flow deprives your brain of essential nutrients and oxygen, impairing cognitive functions.

What you eat is crucial in maintaining a sharp and healthy brain [7]. Opt for a balanced diet rich in whole, natural foods to support your brain health.

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[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28198207/
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29610056/
[4] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/ultra-processed-foods-poorer-brain-health/
[5] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/could-sugar-consumption-impact-the-risk-of-alzheimers-disease
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3551118/
[7] https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/the-five-foods-brain-experts-keep-out-their-diets_uk_6511d2bae4b06340f75fe5be

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