It’s not just bad reality TV that’s draining your brain. There are a number of food groups that can contribute to overall mental decline, and, loss of cognitive ability, and it’s serious stuff! Learn how to help to protect your pearly whites, and keep your brain young and sharp for life, by banish these foods from your diet for life now, and then choose Brain Food For Memory and cognitive function! Wikipedia describes cognitive ability this way,
Is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through experience and the senses. It encompasses processes such as attention, the formation of knowledge, memory and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning, computation, problem solving, decision-making, and comprehension and production of language.
Get more information from Wikipedia cognitive function here.
Unhealthy Foods To Avoid For Proper Brain Function
To figure out which foods contain “empty calories”, you need to read labels. What you’re looking for are solid fats and added sugars. Solid fats are fats that stay solid even at room temperature. They include things like butter and shortening. Added sugars are sugars, often syrups, that are added to foods as they’re processed.
These ingredients can make food taste good, well, very good, in fact. The problem is that even if a food tastes great, it may not give your body what it needs to thrive. “Empty” literally means “containing nothing.” When it comes to food, empty means that that food contains little or no essential vitamins or minerals. In other words, these foods provide nothing of value to your body beyond calories that create excess pounds according to Harvard Medical School. Here are the “empty calorie” foods to avoid:
Treats like packaged cakes, cookies, and donuts contain both added sugars and solid fats.
Beverages like soda, sports and energy drinks, and fruit drinks contain added sugars.
Cheese, ice cream, and other full-fat dairy contain a good amount of solid fat.
Processed grains like white rice or white bread.
Meats like sausage, hot dogs, bacon, and ribs contain solid fat.
Fast food like pizza, burgers, French fries, milkshakes, etc. , often contains both added sugars and solid fats.
Hard candy and candy bars may contain both added sugars and solid fats.
Still not sure if you’re eating too many “empty calories”? Take a look around your local grocery store. Many of the foods with empty calories are found in the center aisles of the store. They’re often packaged foods that have been processed in facilities that add sugar and fat.
The U.S.D.A. explains that some empty calories in your diet are okay. Moderation is key so how many calories exactly? Try limiting yourself to 75 calories of these types foods each day, or, at the very least, eating them less often like once aweek or in lesser quantities which is referred to as the Mayo Clinic Diet. Let’s take a closer look at some of these individually.
Processed Grains and Simple Carbohydrates. Grains are the world’s single biggest source of food energy. The three most commonly consumed types are wheat, rice and corn. Grains are dried seeds that form on grass-like plants such as barley, oats, sorghum, millet, rye, the only exception being corn, which grows on stalks.
Then there are quinoa and buckwheat which aren’t grains but eaten like grains. There’s quite a lot of controversy over grains, as some authorities, like the USDA, who recommend that women eat 5-6 servings of grains per day, and men eat 6-8, while some health experts say we should be avoiding grains all together. Healthy whole grains, which are considered protective and beneficial to the human body, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are not processed and left in their natural state consisting of the bran, germ, and endosperm.
Processed grains, or refined grains, remove the bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm and in the process, losing about 25 percent in protein, and nutrients. Nothing is left except the high-carb, high-calorie endosperm with lots of starch and small amounts of protein, which makes them empty-calorie and easily digestible, causing rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.
These fluctuations in blood sugar can be harmful to overall brain health and affect mood. A 2009 study, using animal model, conducted by a team of scientists at the University of Montreal and Boston College, linked excess glucose consumption (blood level spikes) to memory and cognitive deficiencies. Spikes and immediate drops in blood sugar levels, also make us hungry, causing selectively stimulated brain regions associated with reward and craving, per an NIH study. In another NIH study they said
Clearly, the range of protective substances in whole grains is impressive and advice to consume additional whole grains is justified for Brain Food For Memory.
For example, commercial white breads are unhealthy because the great majority of them are made from refined wheat, which is low in essential nutrients (empty calories) and leads to rapid spikes in blood sugar. Harvard Medical School research concluded that measuring carbohydrates (glycemic index) help glucose management and the avoidance of blood-sugar spikes and the unhealthy side effects.
For example, those who oppose grain consumption entirely, like those who follow the popular paleo diet, which typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, has no grains in it. All processed or refined grains have a negative impact on your brain functioning and your overall health, except for 100 percent whole grain or complex carbohydrates, which is very rich in nutrients, and, and it is known to prevent arterial aging.
If you consume refined grains, which are considered “empty calories”, because the fiber and nutrients have been stripped away, your body risks aging quicker than it is supposed to, and you can also experience memory loss, brain fog, and poor cognitive functioning.
One NIH study results indicated that every 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of whole grains was linked to a 5 percent lower risk of death. Another study by UCLA Life Scientists, found that fructose, or sugar spikes from refined grains, is linked to damaging brain cells, and can lead to many diseases from diabetes to Alzheimer’s.
Replace the refined carbs for the complex carbohydrates, all you need to do is to opt for whole grain bread and other whole-grains. In 2017 the Oldways Whole Grains Council released a research summary of major authority studies analyzing the health beneﬁts of whole grains and published from 2004 to 2017.
Now at over 200 studies there is a deepened understanding of why whole grains support good health. In their new report, 112 additional studies were summarized, to make this knowledge available to health professionals, policy makers, and anyone else who can beneﬁt from their compilation, even all of us. List available in PDF for download.
Fast foods. A recent study by The National Institute Of Health has revealed that junk food has many health implications and can even change the chemicals in the brains, thus leading to symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. Fast foods are also foods that may be either saturated fatty foods, high sugar or salt foods, fried foods, and processed foods, or a combination of any or all of those types of food. So, refer to the various studies in the different categories.
Besides, fast foods that are high in fat, or sugar, or other additives, and are addictive and can also trigger some symptoms that are similar to the signs of withdrawal when you stop consuming them. These foods affect the production of dopamine, an important chemical that promotes happiness and an overall feeling of well-being. If you’ve ever tried to cut back on junk food, you may have realized that it’s easier said than done.
Though you might think this is caused by a lack of willpower, the situation can be much more complicated than that. It’s a fact that junk foods stimulate the reward system in the brain in the same way as abusive drugs like cocaine. For susceptible people, eating fast foods can lead to full-blown addiction, which shares the same biological basis as addiction to abusive drugs, according to this NIH study.
The human brain employs a reward system and when you are doing things to encourage your survival, such as eating. The problem with modern fast foods, is that they can cause a reward that is way more powerful than anything you can get from whole foods. and unfortunately far more addictive. Here’s the thing, eating a piece of prime rib might cause a moderate release of dopamine, eating an chocolate-covered ice cream cone, is so incredibly rewarding that it releases a ton of dopamine and satisfies your fix.
As the addiction progresses, more and more dopamine is released and the brain realizes that dopamine release is too high and starts removing dopamine receptors to keep things balanced. When you have fewer receptors you need more dopamine to reach the same effect, and you eat more junk food to reach the same level of reward as before. This is called increase in tolerance.
When little dopamine released you become unhappy when you can’t get your “fix”, causing withdrawal.
Now, you’re full-blown physically addicted, as this NIH study confirms! Moreover, dopamine also supports the cognitive function, the learning capacity, alertness, motivation and memory of your brain. This is why it is important to avoid all foods that are considered fast or junk foods.
Fried Foods or Fatty Foods. Almost all processed foods contain saturated fats, chemicals, dyes, additives, artificial flavors, preservatives and such, which can affect the behavior and the cognitive functioning due to the chemical that causes hyperactivity, both in children and in adults. Fried foods and saturated fatty foods or oils, slowly destroy the nerve cells, or neurons, located in the brain according to a 2010 National Review of Neuroscience study reviewed by the NIH.
Refined or saturated fat cooking oils, such as soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, corn, and canola oils, are just as bad. Some oils are more dangerous than others, such as sunflower oil, which is considered to be among the most toxic ones. The safest oil to use is monounsaturated oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, almond oil, grape seed oil,or coconut oil, which are high in healthy omega 3 fatty acid, and lower in unhealthy omega 6 fatty acids.
Just like fried foods, saturated fat foods also impact your central nervous system and they also increase the risk of developing a degenerative brain disorder later in life, such as Alzheimer’s disease, according to one NIH study. A Harvard Medical School study analyzed food surveys of over 6,000 older women and the results of their cognitive testing over time showed total fat intake didn’t seem to affect women’s brain function, but the type of fat did. Women with the most saturated fat in their diets performed the worst.
According to Dr. Olivia Okereke, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, compared with those who consumed the least amount of saturated fat,
women who had the highest consumption of saturated fat had the worst memory and cognition over time
In A National Institute Of Health Study, they concluded the following on eating fried foods regularly.
In summary, there is strong evidence suggesting an association of fried food consumption with a higher risk of developing chronic disease in adults. The strength of current evidence makes it reasonable to recommend complete avoidance of fried foods or at most infrequent to moderate fried food consumption within the context of an overall healthy dietary pattern.
Another NIH study found diets that are high in saturated fat are becoming notorious for reducing molecular substrates that support cognitive processing and increased the risk of neurological dysfunction in the brain in both humans and animals.
High Salt Foods. Everybody knows that salty foods affect your blood pressure and sodium is very hard on your heart and kidneys.
However, as research suggests, foods that contain high amounts of salt (sodium) can affect your cognitive function and impair your ability to think because they too are addictive (refer to addiction under fast foods). Salty foods affect your cognitive ability and your intelligence, particularly in older adults, as well. An older study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, reviewed by NIH, looked at adults ages 67-84 years over the course of three years.
Research shows those who ate high amounts of salt had poorer scores on cognitive function than those who ate the least amount of salt. Research has shown that the consumption of salty foods along with habit-forming nicotine derived from smoking, have the same effects as hard drugs, as they cause harsh withdrawal symptoms and cravings for not only salty foods but also the nicotine.
If you must use salt, use sea salt moderately because it not contains sodium, but numerous vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and other beneficial nutrients. You can also season with fresh herbs and spices which are micronutrient-rich and high in healthy antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
Processed Meats. Proteins are the building blocks of muscles and they are very important for the proper functioning of your body. Lean meat, preferable grass-fed finished or free-range meats, is the richest source of high-quality protein, but avoid overly processed protein such as hot dogs, salami, sausages and such. The findings of a Johns Hopkins Medicine study of more than 1,000 people with and without psychiatric disorders has shown that:
nitrates, chemicals used to cure meats such as beef jerky, salami, hot dogs and other processed meat snacks, may contribute to mania, an abnormal mood state. Mania is characterized by hyperactivity, euphoria and insomnia.
Unlike the natural proteins that help your body insulate the nervous system, processed proteins do exactly the opposite.
A study including 52 people found that a diet high in unhealthy processed meats resulted in lower levels of sugar metabolism in the brain and a decrease in brain tissue. These factors are thought to be markers for Alzheimer’s disease. Another study in the Journal of Nutritional Science, including 18,080 people found that a diet high in fried and processed foods is associated with lower scores in learning and memory. Similar results were found in another large-scale study in 5,038 people.
A diet high in fatty red meat, processed meat, baked beans and fried food was associated with inflammation and a faster decline in reasoning over 10 years. There are several NIH studies which found that rats fed a high-calorie diet experienced disruptions to the blood-brain barrier and reduced cognitive ability. Yet another ScienceDirect study confirmed the connection of eating processed meats and negatively effecting long-term memory, learning and the growth of new neurons.
Opt for lean organic meats and natural wild-caught fish (not farmed-raised fish), particularly tuna and salmon, low-fat dairy, walnuts and seeds, as these are natural, high-quality protein sources, all found in the Mediterranean diet.
High Sugars. Sugar and sugary products are bad not only for your waistline, but for your brain function as well. Long-term consumption of processed sugar can create a wealth of neurological problems, and it can also interfere with your memory. The number one culprit is sugary drinks (colas), especially diet drinks.
The NIH looked at 88 studies and found a association between soft drink intake with increased energy intake and body weight, due to empty calories, but little nutrition. Another NIH study compared liquid carbohydrates (sugary drinks) and solid carbohydrates and determined body weight and BMI increased significantly only during the liquid carbs period. A UCLA study shows high-fructose diet sabotages learning, and memory.
Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,
said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. The study is the first to show how a diet steadily high in fructose slows the brain, hampering memory and learning, and how omega-3 fatty acids can counteract the disruption.
Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information.
An NIH study concurred with the UCLA study and found evidence supporting the connection between dietary intake of sugar and cognitive health, particularly in regards to the ageing population. Commercial fruit juices are just as bad containing just as much fructose as sugary drinks, per a Lancet study. In addition, sugar can also interfere with your ability to recall, this is why it is recommended to avoid pre-baked goods, sugar, corn syrup and products that are high in fructose. If you must use sugar, use natural dark brown sugar.
It is well-established that the Mediterrnean Diet (Medi diet), with the liberal use of more virgin olive oil and nuts and whole grains, is the best choice for your overall health and well being. According to the latest research in a AHA Journal Circulation Research study released in February this year (2019)the available evidence is large, strong, and consistent. Better conformity with the traditional Medi Diet is associated with better cardiovascular health outcomes, including clinically meaningful reductions in rates of coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and total cardiovascular disease.
The Medi Diet is effective in preventing obesity and metabolic syndrome in healthy and at-risk individuals, in reducing mortality risk in overweight or obese individuals, in decreasing the incidence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in healthy individuals, and in reducing symptom severity in individuals with type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease found a Nutrients study reviewed by the NIH published in Mach of this year (2019). In another NIH review of the Medi diet, they said the following:
High level evidence from the PREDIMED study shows the MedDiet can improve cardiovascular and cognitive health, which will help guide dietary guideline development for prevention of chronic disease.
Metabolism research on the Medi Diet and reviewed by the NIH confirmed a high consumption of fruit and vegetables, bread and other cereals, olive oil and fish; making them low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber. A main factor in the appeal of the Mediterranean Diet is its rich, full flavored foods. Margarine and other unhealthy hydrogenated oils are considered bland and lacking the flavor olive oil can impart to foods. Red wine is also consumed regularly but in moderate quantities. A Saint Louis University study released in March this year (2019) found that that eating a Mediterranean diet can improve athletes’ endurance exercise performance after just four days.
A 2018 Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) study determined that using the Medi Diet in 2700 pregnancies is associated with a 32 percent lower risk of accelerated growth pattern. A 2017 American Academy of Neurology (AAN) found that the Medi Diet older people who followed a Medi Diet retained more brain volume over a three-year period than those who did not follow the diet as closely. The study also showed eating more fish and less meat was not related to changes in the brain.
So, lean red meat is just as good as fish. According to 2018 Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed I.R.C.C.S. study determined that for those who have already had a heart attack or a stroke, the combination of statins and Mediterranean Diet appears to be the most effective choice to reduce the risk of mortality, especially from cardiovascular causes. A 2018 Wiley online study looked at analysis of published studies indicates that following the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of frailty in older individuals.
The findings suggest that a diet emphasizing primarily plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, may help keep people healthy and independent as they age. A 2017 Elsevier study determined that men who followed a Mediterranean diet, rich in fish, boiled potatoes, whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, and olive oil, and low consumption of juices had lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer (PC) than those who followed other dietary patterns like Prudent or Western diets.
Not only will the Medi diet help you with your heart and cardiovascular health, but also help you maintain healthy brain function, as well, particularly in reducing anxiety and depression by 33 percent, according to a 2019 Molecular Psychiatry study.
The research found, in a meta-analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults, a diet low in saturated fat, sugar, and processed foods can reduce the risk of depression by 24 percent over a 12-year period. The diet allowed for a lower inflammatory index corresponding to a lower depression incidence.
A plant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet can help prevent depression
, explained Dr. Camille Lassale, a research associate at the University College London and a member of the research team that did the study.
There certainly a relationship between healthy eating and mood and the brain such as experiencing depression. The mounting evidence shows that the relationship between the gut and brain plays a key role in mental health, and that this axis is modulated by gastrointestinal bacteria (probiotics), which can be modified by our diet.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, found that dietary interventions, like the Medi diet, may play a role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s (AD) disease by modulating AD-risk. In another study published in the Journal of Neural Transmission found in an older population of Southern Italy with a typical Mediterranean diet, high monounsaturated fatty acids energy intake appeared to be associated with a high protection against cognitive decline.
In addition, the Medi diet will help you loose weight, particularly in older adults, as well. Not much the Medi Diet won’t do for you, is there?
And last but not least, at the start of 2019 the Medi diet was chosen as the number one overall nutritious diet in the world by the U.S. News and World Report.
The Mediterranean Diet consists of eating fresh organic, non-GMO fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds (A); whole-grains, such as Ezekiel’s bread, and complex carbohydrates, naturally fermented foods and wine, fresh organic herbs and spices, antioxidant drinks, with extra virgin olive oil as the main component (A).
The diet also includes organic high-protein, cold-water or wild-caught fish and shellfish (A), and meats and poultry, as long as the meats are lean organic, grass-fed finished, or free-range finished meats or poultry, grass-fed eggs and dairy (A). Alternative drinks to replace sugary drinks should be in the form of fruit-infused water containing only natural sugars, and vegetable or fruit smoothies, such as a blueberry-Maca smoothie, espresso coffee, fermented wine and beer, and green tea.
Researchers recently found that when older adults supplemented their Mediterranean-style of eating with extra virgin olive oil and nuts, their memory and thinking skills increased, than those who only ate a normal and what was considered a healthy diet in the past, low-fat diet. In this study, which involved 450 adults divided into three groups, were given three different diets.
The first group ate a Mediterranean Diet plus a liter of extra virgin olive oil per week. The second group consumed the Mediterranean Diet plus thirty grams of nuts per day, which included walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds. The final group ate just a straight low-fat diet. So, do you still think a low-fat diet is the way to go?
After a four-year period, the participants took a cognitive skills test. Results showed that the two groups that consumed the Mediterranean Diet with with the extra olive oil or the nuts, had much better cognitive function, such as reasoning, attention, memory, and language, than the group who ate only the low-fat diet. Based on the results, the researchers concluded this type of diet could be effective in preventing dementia.
Researchers believe that oxidative stress, which is caused by free-radical damage in the cells, is greater than the human body’s immune system defenses. Free-radicals also damages blood vessels and neurons in the brain, which causes age-related cognitive decline and the development of dementia found a 2013 Neuron study reviewed by the NIH.
The Meterranean Diet, along with the additional olive oil and nuts, are particularly rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances that counteract the oxidative damage in the body and in the brain. Complete finding for the study can be found in the article “The Metirranean Diet and Age-Related Cognitive Decline”, which appeared in the Journal Jama Internal Medicine and reviewed by the NIH.
In an older population, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts is associated with improved cognitive function.
The Medi diet is also a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fats in the form of omega 3 fatty acids, which enhances overall brain function. Now that we’ve covered the health and cognitive benefits of the Medeterranean Diet and older adults, let us now look at babies and youth and the beneficial effect of brain health with good nutrition. Check out this video by Rachael Ray on the Mediterranean Diet (1).
Good Nutrition for Babies
Scientists have stressed good nutritious diet is vital in a child’s early life, as the brain grows at its fastest rate during the first three years of life.
This indicated growth of the head during this time is linked to intellectual ability and, it is possible that good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal brain growth, as well. Scientists tracked the long term health and well being of around 14,000 children born in 1991 and 1992 as part of the West Country’s Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), reviewed by The National Institutes Of Health.
Parents were quizzed about the types and frequency of the food and drink their children consumed when they were three, four, seven and eight and a half years old. They were marked on a sliding scale which ranged from minus two for the most healthy to ten for the most unhealthy. IQ was measured using a validated test, called the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, of 4,000 children when they were eight and half years old.
The research found after taking account of potentially influential factors, a predominantly processed-food (precooked or fast foods) diet at the age of three was associated with a lower IQ at the age of eight and a half, irrespective of whether the diet improved after that age. On the other hand, a healthy nutritious diet was associated with a higher IQ at the age of 8.5, with every one point increase in a healthier dietary pattern was linked to a 1.2 increase in IQ.
Although a modest increase, the scientists said the study’s findings were in line with previous ALSPAC research that linked early childhood diet and later behavior and school performance. Dr Kate Northstone said:
This suggests that any cognitive and behavioral effects relating to eating habits in early childhood may well persist into later childhood, despite any subsequent changes to dietary intake, including improvements.
Even for infants, as she noted, it’s vitally important choosing the right Brain Food For Memory, because the brain grows at its fastest rate during the first three years of life, indicating that head growth at this time is linked to intellectual ability.
It is possible that good nutrition during this period may encourage optimal brain growth.
Cognitive Function and Peruvian Maca
A recent study finds, maca can be proficient in protecting the brains of both women and men. And while this specific study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, examines maca’s indirect impact on mitochondrial activity, it does so by way of maca’s effect on cognitive function.
Now, before we go any further, we need to define “oxidative stress.” Oxidative stress, simply put, is cell corruption caused by free radical damage. Two ways to fight this damage are by ingesting quality antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and increasing blood oxygen levels. Oxidative stress deteriorates and “ages” the brain via free radical ravishing of the good neuron cells in the brain.
Results of the study concludes Peruvian maca is a worthy blood oxygenator and potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and scientists in general can conclude, with confidence, that maca helps to preserve cognitive function. For more particulars on the study, “Oxidative Stress In Brain Aging: Implications For Therapeutics Of Neurodegenerative Diseases”, read here.
Supplement your diet with a natural, organic non-GMO, Super Food Adaptogen, healing food plant, called Peruvian Maca, for added assurance, furnishing your body and mind with great nutrition.
This amazing Super Food has the ability to not only assist you with cognitive function, but also physically and mentally in so many wide-ranging ways. This healing plant root provides you the energy necessary to pursue all the brain-stimulating activities encountered each day, enhances memory, mood, and recall, relieves stress naturally, and reduces the symptoms of anxiety, depression, assisting you in maintaining a positive attitude and a clear and responsive mind.
For more in depth information on this incredible healing Peruvian Maca plant, read these articles and reviews:
Now that you have learned how to get Brain Food For Memory and overall brain health, are you ready to take action to protect you and your family’s cognitive health? Your comments and questions are welcomed. Please let me hear from you.
(A) Follow these links for more information, documented studies, and purchase all these incredible, healthy, nutrient-rich foods.
(1) Dr. OZ Video