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June 06, 2018

3 Bad Foods for Brain Health

If you’ve been researching ways to have a healthy brain, you’ve likely stumbled upon lists of foods you should eat to prevent cognitive decline and keep your memory sharp. Foods like blueberries, salmon and nuts can help keep your brain in tip top shape. However, just like these foods can help preserve your memory or cognitive function, there are foods that can do the opposite.

What you eat is just as important as what you don’t. Keep your brain healthy by avoiding these three bad foods for brain health.

3 Bad Foods for Brain Health

Artificial Sweeteners

While these technically aren’t a “food”, they’re in a lot of processed foods. What’s so bad about these super sweet additives? Researchers in Israel found that consuming artificial sweeteners raises your risk for type 2 diabetes because they change your gut bacteria. According to neurologist David Perlmutter, having type 2 diabetes increases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease four fold.

Fish High in Mercury

You’ve likely heard fish high in mercury should be avoided in pregnancy, but the same holds true for protecting brain health. In fact, high mercury fish might be one of the highest on the list of bad foods for brain health to avoid because mercury is a neurotoxin and can affect the cerebellum. The cerebellum is responsible for things like balance, coordination and vision.

If you enjoy tuna, just eat it in moderation, recommends Gail Saltz, MD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell School of Medicine. Aim for eating it no more than once a week or in smaller dishes like sushi rolls. Also, avoid fish like shark, swordfish and king mackerel.

Foods High in Trans Fat

Trans fats occur naturally in foods like red meat or dairy. While you should watch your consumption of red meat or high fat dairy, what you really need to keep an eye on is your consumption of processed foods with trans fats. That’s because the natural trans fat from meat and dairy behaves differently in our bodies than that added to food.

Why is added trans fat so bad? It can cause cellular destruction, adversely affect memory and increase brain inflammation. These fats are commonly found in foods like pre-packaged cakes and cookies, snack foods, frosting and margarine. Instead, aim for eating healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil to maintain a healthy brain.

Your diet can have a big impact on the health of your brain. A diet high in bad foods for brain health including foods high in sugar, trans fats and processed foods. These can contribute to a decline in cognitive health, memory and learning ability as well as raise your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

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