Many articles talk about foods that are good for the brain, but what foods are bad for the health of our brain?
It’s a good idea to cut back on sugar
and processed starches
Processed starches (complex carbohydrates) such as pasta, breads and white rice convert quickly to sugar in our digestive track, which means they have a high glycemic index (that’s bad). Try sprouted grains, whole or stoneground breads. They cost a bit more, but they digest slowly – and fuel your system longer.
When consumed in excess, complex carbohydrates increase insulin resistance which leads to obesity – which can lead to Type II Diabetes. Adults with diabetes are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease.
Insulin is important to good health and is necessary to allow brain cells to absorb glucose (a form of sugar). Without enough insulin, brain cells are under-fueled which can result in cognitive impairment.
Enjoying too much sugar (often hidden in sauces, marinades and canned foods) can increase cellular inflammation in the blood vessels. This stresses blood vessels which not only makes a person feel tired and peevish – it can contribute to the formation of a beta amyloid plaque in the brain. Plaque is known to be a marker of Alzheimer’s disease and is found to be present in the brains of those that develop the disease.
Fatty foods may be fun, but they are not your friend
Cut back on your intake of high fat foods and cholesterol, and you are actually helping to protect your blood vessels. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol clogs the arteries, which is known to put us at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Research leads us to believe that there is a direct connection between heart health and brain health. Simply by breathing in and out, our brains receive up to 20% of the blood’s oxygen and nutrients. When the heart and blood vessels show signs of damage, the brain’s vascular system and blood supply can be adversely affected. Sadly, vascular dementia is the second leading cause of memory loss so it is important to keep our blood oxygen levels healthy.
Buy whole, real foods from the outside aisles at the store. When eating out, turn down the bread and sauces — ask for olive oil instead (it contains a compound that has been found to be beneficial to neurons in the brain). Use olive oil on a salad filled with nutritious green leafy vegetables (which are known to be good for the brain) and then enjoy dessert at home (how about non-fat plain yogurt with stevia and cinnamon and apple slices?).
Choose to reduce inflammation and stress on your blood vessels by cutting down on bad fats, sugars and complex carbohydrates – you’ll feel more alert and energetic! Eating a colorful, well-balanced diet is not only good for your brain today, it’s good for your brain in the future – and that’s a smart move in the right direction.