The brain needs healthy nutrients to function effectively just like other organs of our body and brain also need to help other organs to function properly, so it is essential for the brain to utilize energy wisely. We have already learned about brain energy food which is known for enhancing Cognitive fitness, but some food items have the opposite effect. Some food items are unhealthy as they increase the risk for artery clogs that lead to stokes, and therefore it is good if we limit our intake of this food.
These foods are:
Red Meat, butter, and cheese: These foods are high in unhealthy LDL cholesterol when this cholesterol builds up in arteries, it can slow blood flow to the brain and can create a blockage that may cause a stroke. The link between saturated fat and memory may also relate to a gene called Apolipoprotein E, APOE, which helps control the amount of cholesterol in the blood. People with variation of this protein APOE 4 are at greater risk for Alzheimer’s.
“The brain is dependent on sugar as its main fuel,” says Vera Novak, MD, Ph.D., an HMS associate professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “It cannot be without it.”
Although the brain requires one-third of its energy from glucose but, too much of this energy source could be unhealthy for cognitive fitness. Added sugars must be avoided for the healthy functioning of the brain.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is essential for the development of the brain. BDNF helps to create new neurons. Research has shown that diet high in sugar and some fats decrease BDNF. Low BDNF leads to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and then diabetes.
Overeating, poor memory, learning disorders, depressions all have been linked in researches to the overconsumption of sugar. Low BDNF has also been associated with depression, Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s and other dementia. According to the research sugar stimulates the brain’s reward center in the same way as addictive drugs, it appears to have drug-like effects.
Refined flour is made when the manufacturers have stripped away the healthiest parts of the grain. The fiber which has vitamins is eliminated in the process of refining, eating refined flour many cause acid-alkaline imbalances, which may cause inflammation, stomach issues, and the nerve that is attached to the limbic system may get affected and eventually the person may have a negative effect upon emotional health.
Eating to many foods made with refined flour can affect the blood pressure and diabetes risk over time.
Trans fats are also known as bad fats. When it comes to trans-fat, say NO to it, it is the worst food for your brain. These fats increase the LDL cholesterol (bad) and lowers the HDL cholesterol(good) which increases the risk of heart attack and strokes. Approximately 60% of your brain matter consists of the fats that create all the cell membranes in the body. Imagine when we eat food loaded with the bad fats, the brain may make the low quality of nerve cell membranes that don’t function well and these fats can cause cellular destruction.
Natural and good fats not only create healthy cell membranes but also helps in absorptions of essential vitamins like A, D, E and K. Deficiency of these vitamins has an adverse effect on the overall health of the individual. Trans fats can hamper hormone production, affect memory dysfunction, and can increase inflammation in the brain. High Trans fats level may reduce serotonin production in the brain, leading to depression.
According to Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M, C.N.S, D.C, founder of Ancient Nutrition, fried foods can easily contribute to weight gain, which can negatively impact the health of the brain. In the study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science, subjects who ate diets high in fried foods also scored poorly on tests that evaluated learning, memory, and brain function. Researchers believe that eating fried foods contributes to inflammation and decreases the size of the brain. So I believe the most essential is to understand to add sources of good sources of natural fats in our diet. As we have already read in our previous article Mediterranean –DASH Diet is good for cognitive fitness. Seafood such as salmon, sardines, oysters are high in omega 3 fatty acids they are also high in other minerals for the brain such as zinc. Flax seeds, chia seeds, and nuts are also wise choices when it comes to serving the brain for the best kind of fatty acids.
Because fats are very important for your brain structure and functioning and its overall functioning it very essential to understand what kind of fats are good and what kind are bad for our brain health. Choose wisely.
In our next article we will learn about the role of exercise on our brain chemistry and mind functioning.
Exercising regularly is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your brain. They promote brain health by releasing hormones like BDNF. After all, it’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.