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Positive & Negative Foods For Brain Health

40% of dementia is preventable by altering 12 lifestyle and environmental risk factors according to  world-leading dementia experts. These factors include, hearing loss, hypertension and obesity; and smoking, depression, social isolation, physical inactivity. A key ingredient for brain health is your diet. There are specific brain foods that boost your cognitive health and there are also foods that you should avoid. It’s never too late to start being mindful of what you eat. 

Here are five types of foods that negatively impact brain function:

  • Sugary drinks. Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and even fruit juice are high in sugar. Excessive amounts of sugar can lead to Type 2 Diabetes, which is known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
  • Fried food. French fries, fried chicken, and other various deep-fried treats lack nutritional value and are known to cause high cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that adults with high cholesterol have more amyloid plaques in their brain, an indicator of Alzheimer’s, than people with normal cholesterol levels.
  • Aspartame. Found in Splenda, diet drinks, and sugar-free candies, aspartame has been linked to many serious health issues. A chemical found in aspartame, methyl ester, metabolizes into methanol. A two-part study linked chronic methanol exposure with memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Excessive alcohol. Although consuming a glass of red wine is known to have health benefits, excessive drinking can be toxic to your brain. Too much alcohol negatively impacts your hippocampus, located deep within your temporal lobe where memory happens.
  • Processed meats. As popular as charcuterie boards are becoming, you may want to consider the effects of consuming these processed meats. A study was done that links each additional 25 grams per day of processed meats to an increased risk of dementia.

A key ingredient for brain health is your diet.

On the other hand, there are brain-healthy foods that are beneficial and are known to help prevent cognitive decline. We previously shared some recipes for brain health, and here are some additional foods to consider:

  • Turmeric. An Indian spice mostly found in curries. Turmeric’s active ingredient is curcumin, which is full of brain health benefits that may include clearing amyloid plaques, protein fragments that develop between nerve cells in the brain. An abnormal buildup of amyloid plaques is a clear sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Eggs. Full of several nutrients, eggs are a great resource for brain health, including choline, which produces acetylcholine. This is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate memory and optimal brain function.
  • Nuts. The long-term effects of consuming nuts shows that it could be related to overall cognitive health. Additionally, almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts have some of the highest levels of Vitamin E, which is linked to improving cognitive function and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Tea and Coffee. Consumption of caffeine found in tea and coffee (as much as 2.5 cups in one sitting) has shown many positive effects, including prevention of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Dark chocolate. The base of dark chocolate is cacao, a source of flavonoids, which is a plant compound that is rich in antioxidants. The consumption of cacao has been linked to beneficial effects on neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to grow and change. Neuroplasticity can rewire functions in your brain if one area is damaged and even increase memory, deterring cognitive decline. 

As you consider enhancing your diet with positive brain food, there are easy ways to incorporate these ingredients into your daily meals. Eating brain food for memory can be both delicious and habit forming.