Five types of foods that are dangerous for the brain: a doctor’s opinion
Emotions, memory, and the ability to memorize and learn depending on the state of the brain. But how long the brain can cope with its functions depends on many factors; one of the main ones is nutrition. And what foods are dangerous for the brain?
We all want to live to a ripe old age, remaining in our declining years with a clear mind and solid memory. However, the statistics are disappointing: today, the number of people worldwide suffering from various types of dementia has exceeded 50 million, and every year this figure increases by 10 million. But the disease is not an inevitable result of aging. About 9% of patients diagnosed with dementia are under 65 years of age.
In addition to physical and mental activity, our nutrition maintains brain function at a decent level. Some foods harm the brain. With constant use in quantities exceeding the norm, such products are dangerous for the brain. They accelerate cell aging and slow down the process of neuronal regeneration.
A well-known researcher in the field of nutrition, Steven Witherly, who has devoted about 20 years to studying the effect of food on human health, has compiled a list of the most dangerous foods that harm brain cells.
What foods are considered dangerous for the brain
Foods high in salt
Pickles, marinades, sauces, canned food, etc., are the most dangerous foods for the brain. Of course, salt is the main source of sodium, which is necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous system; without it, the transmission of nerve impulses is impossible. However, excess sodium in the body also causes problems. Among the consequences of increased sodium content in the body are a deterioration in the blood supply to the brain, an increase in pressure, and a deterioration in reactions and memory.
It is also known that salt affects the inner vascular wall – the endothelium, which regulates blood flow and vascular tone. With an excess of salt, the walls of blood vessels become thinner, including those that permeate the brain. The likelihood of a stroke, in this case, increases significantly.
Also, excessive salt intake, the main cause of high blood pressure, increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, which has been repeatedly confirmed. 20% of patients develop vascular dementia caused by hypertension and atherosclerosis.
Structural changes in the brain occur gradually between the diagnosis of hypertension and the first signs of dementia; as a rule, more than a dozen years pass. But repeated hypertensive crises increase the likelihood of a stroke, after which Alzheimer’s disease occurs in most cases.
- Daily salt intake – 5 gr
- a single shake of the salt shaker adds about 0.5 g to the food. salt
The situation is aggravated by someone adding salt to food: a single shaking with a salt shaker adds about 0.5 g to food. Salt. But the daily norm of salt is only 5 grams, while it should be noted that it is initially present in bakery products, sausages, cheeses, etc.
What can replace salt? To reduce the consumption of salty foods, you can partially switch to spices and spices, limiting the intake of salt; in some dishes, it is appropriate to add lemon or vinegar instead. And most importantly: try to give up the habit of adding salt to food.
Sweets, gingerbread, cookies, cakes, muffins, and sweet drinks are tasty but have a huge drawback: high sugar content. Neither glucose nor carbohydrates destroy nerve cells, but excess sugar contributes to atherosclerosis, which negatively affects blood vessels, including those in the brain. Their blood flow slows down, the supply of brain cells with oxygen worsens, and their regeneration is disrupted.
In addition, the frequent use of sweets leads to the so-called “sugar” addiction, although there is no such term in medicine. Glucose stimulates the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine, which cause positive emotions in a person. However, with a constant excess of sweets, the brain is able to get used to a high level of serotonin, not reacting to an increase in its concentration with the next portion of sugar. As a result, frequent intake of foods rich in carbohydrates can cause depression.
In addition, the load on the pancreas, which produces insulin, increases with an excess of sugar in food. Over time, hyperglycemia may develop. Meanwhile, insulin is involved in the production of certain proteins, particularly tau protein – one of the causes of dementia is associated with it. Accumulations of the protein tau, most commonly found in neurons of the central nervous system, are present in the brain cells of all patients with Alzheimer’s disease. These clots, at a certain point, begin to damage neurons. According to statistics, among insulin-dependent diabetics, dementia develops twice as often as in healthy people.
What can replace sugar? The body does not need sugar, but carbohydrates, which are present, for example, in bread and pasta, in honey, dark chocolate, and natural marmalade. The glucose necessary for the body is found in many fruits and berries.
These are the most dangerous products for the body; they contain saturated and so-called “harmful” fats (trans fats). It is they who upset the balance between “good” and “bad” cholesterol, becoming the cause of the development of atherosclerosis. As a result, the transport function of the blood is disrupted, and the cells of the body receive less oxygen and nutrients. Atherosclerotic plaques formed in the vessels, including in the brain, increase the risk of stroke.
In addition, the myelin sheath covering the neurons, which is responsible for the speed of impulse transmission, is surrounded by a substance that is a complex compound of fatty acids. With the predominance of trans fats in food, a failure occurs, and the conduction of nerve impulses is disturbed.
By the way, in the course of experiments conducted by scientists at different universities (Dallas, West Lafayette, Philadelphia), it was noticed that in groups that received only fatty foods, memory, learning ability, and spatial thinking deteriorated in everyone; in contrast to those who received only useful products.
What can replace such dangerous foods? Instead of fatty meats, preference can be given to foods high in healthy fats: fish, eggs, lean meats and poultry, nuts, avocados, etc.
The brain, which consists of fatty tissue, with the abuse of fat-free foods, will immediately react with rapid fatigue, deviations in the psycho-emotional sphere, and increased aggressiveness is possible. In addition, the predominance of fat-free foods in the diet causes a lack of certain vitamins in the body. Due to the fats present in food, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are absorbed by the fats present in food, without which the brain’s normal functioning is impossible. For example,
- Vitamin D is responsible for the reaction rate and memory and accelerates the transmission of nerve impulses to the brain; its lack increases the risk of depression;
- E – accelerates the perception of new information, is responsible for sleep, with a lack of mood swings possible, attention and the ability to concentrate are reduced;
- K – takes part in enzymatic processes and the synthesis of sphingolipids in the brain involved in cell signal transmission, promotes better absorption of vitamin D, regulates sugar levels;
- A – stimulate memory, protect brain cells from destruction, control blood sugar levels, etc.
In addition, low-fat products contain sugars, flavors, and thickeners, harming the body.
What can replace low-fat foods? First, we study the label: often under 0% fat content, the manufacturer disguises the presence of trans fats, which are even more dangerous for the body. If you can only do with limiting the fat content in products, it is better to choose a product with an average fat content.
Drinking alcoholic beverages can cause memory impairment and brain damage. Alcohol, which is the basis of alcoholic beverages, can destroy nerve cells and slow down the regeneration process. It is not necessary to be a chronic alcoholic; a negative effect is observed even with 0.1 ppm of alcohol in the blood.
With the abuse of strong drinks, there is also a lack of vitamin B1, caused by dietary habits and disruption of the digestive tract. The result is the development of Korsakov’s syndrome, in which there is a death of nerve cells in the brain and the disappearance of nerve fibers in the spinal cord. Cognitive impairment and dementia with excessive alcohol consumption will certainly occur much earlier than in people who do not drink alcohol.
Five brain-healthy foods
- Greens: broccoli, kale, spinach – they contain all the necessary elements that can prevent or slow down the decline in perception, attention, memory, and ability to learn and make decisions.
- Fish: salmon, tuna, trout – a source of fatty acids (Omega-3), unsaturated fats that can prevent the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain – the accumulation of substances in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Berries: especially blueberries and blueberries – flavonoids in them in large quantities help improve memory.
- Nuts (especially walnuts) are rich in proteins, healthy fats, and Omega-3 fatty acids, which improve brain function.
- Turmeric, saffron, and cinnamon contain a huge amount of elements that can control cholesterol levels, reduce or slow down the development of dementia, and prevent the appearance of amyloid plaques; cinnamon also improves attention and regulates blood sugar levels.
All body systems’ intellectual abilities, memory, and coordinated work depend on the brain. But stress, lack of rest, and good sleep leave their mark, and bad ecology aggravates the situation. But if we cannot eliminate some factors, then nutrition can be adjusted by limiting or completely abandoning foods that are dangerous to the brain. In the assortment of modern stores, there will certainly be alternative products that will turn out to be both useful and tasty.