Have you ever wondered whether the food you eat affects more than just your physical appearance? Sure we know that fatty foods can damage our heart and clog up our arteries, but what about the brain? It's probably not something we naturally think about and connect up, however the more research which is carried out, the more we start to see that what we ingest can result in negative effects on the brain. It can affect our memory and moods and can also increase the risk of dementia.
Research suggests that a high intake of sugary drinks (eg fizzy drinks or fruit juices), refined carbs (such as white flour), foods with high levels of hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats) such as cookies from a packet and other pre-packed snack foods can lead to an increased risk of dementia. For example, drinking an excessive amount of sugary drinks can lead to a higher chance of getting type 2 diabetes, which in turn has been shown to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease.
Processed foods such as chips, sweets and ready made meals, (or donuts which contain both sugar and saturated fat) can lead to excess fat building up around the organs and this can lead to a decline in tissues in the brain. They may also increase inflammation in the brain and cause impairment of memory, as well as contribute to the development of degenerative diseases.
In one study of 5,038 people who ate a diet high in red meat, processed meat, baked beans and fried food, it showed an association with inflammation and a faster decline in reasoning over 10 years.
We know that foods high in Omega 3 are good for the brain and can reduce inflammation and protect the decline of cognitive function, so ensure you include foods in your diet which contain these, such as oily fish, walnuts and flaxseeds. Equally, to avoid those sugary drinks, why not have more water or herbal teas such as green tea or chamomile.
However, as ever, it's all about balance. It doesn't mean you need to cut all these foods out of your life, just be sure to eat them in moderation and generally stick to healthy fresh whole foods.
Let's remember that our brain is one of the most important organs in our body, it controls our ability to think, speak, see, walk, remember things and so much more, therefore it goes without saying that we need to take care of it.