If you’ve read our best nootropics article, you’ll know which natural options perform well for your brain.
But what performs the worst for your brain?
In this short article, we list what we believe to be the worst options for your brain when it comes to cognition, focus, memory and generally anything which could be detrimental to mental processes.
If you’re running a nootropic stack and having these foods (Wait! Do nootropics really work?) you may want to change your diet to get the best results.
Here’s what you need to know…
Worst foods for your brain
If any of these foods are in your diet, you may want to consider removing them for the benefit of your brain.
1. Sodas and High-Sugar Beverages
When it comes to staying hydrated for both your brain and body – water should be your number 1 option.
High sugar drinks like soda, sports drinks and even energy drinks can have a negative effect on your brain.
The main reasons for this harming your brain are the standard issues caused by these types of drinks:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Blood Fats
- Arterial Dysfunction
But what do these have to do with your brain health?
High sugar in your blood can increase your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, and can be detrimental to your brain health.
Type 2 diabetes has been linked to increasing your overall chance of Alzheimer’s diseases, which causes horrific and permanent memory loss and damage to your brain.
Other issues such as the obesity, high blood pressure, fats and arterial dysfunction can cause metabolic syndrome which has links to causing dementia in the long-term which is another mentally crippling brain condition.
High sugar diets have also been seen in some animal studies to cause brain inflammation and impairs memory.
2. Refined Carbohydrates
Good examples of refined carbohydrates are your sugars and highly processed grains like white flour, white bread, white rice and things of that nature. They’re not great for your brain.
The trend among these foods is that they all have a high glycemic index (GI) and high glycemic load (GL) – which can have an effect on your brain.
A high glycemic index food is digested quickly in your body and spikes your blood sugar and insulin levels.
Whereas a high glycemic load is how much the food actually raises these levels by serving size.
In short term studies, foods with high-GL have been seen to hurt the brain by impairing your memory in the short-term in something as simple as a high GL meal.
Other studies have shown that some subjects experience poorer memory when on a diet with high refined sugar compared to those who aren’t.
It is believed to cause these problems by inflaming the hippocampus in your brain that can affect memory.
Again, an inflamed hippocampus can lead to brain issues like dementia.
There’s a lot of mental problems associated with these foods and if you want to give your brain better support, we suggest that you stay away from having these types of foods in your diet.
3. Trans Fats
Trans fats can be terrible for both your brain and general cognition. Your most likely to find them in foods like frosting, snack foods, cookies and other ready made snacks.
Research has shown that taking a lot of these trans fats in your diet can lead to issues like Alzheimer’s Disease, poor memory, less brain volume and general cognitive decline.
However, not all research papers have made this connection, which calls its ability to do this to your brain into question.
However, once you see that the majority of foods that contains these fats are unhealthy foods: cookies, cakes etc.
These aren’t good for your health in general, and this may knock on effect throughout your system.
Essentially, trans fat do have concrete evidence for causing brain issues – but it seems likely. Worst case scenario it’s still not a great choice for your health.
4. Processed Foods
You already know this is bad for your health – but highly processed food is also bad for your brain.
Regularly consuming processed foods lead to cause issues within your body such as storing excess fat around yoru bodily organs – which puts strain on them.
However this also causes harm of its own to your brain. Research has shown that Western diets which are heavy in processed foods are linked to causing brain inflammation, memory problems, weaker brain plasticity and issues with the blood-brain barrier.
That last one is important. Your blood-barrier is the membrane between your blood and the brain. It’s like a filter for both good and bad elements. If you let that weaken, a lot more hazardous material may be able to enter your brain.
This is a hidden ingredient that you may have to read the label of what you eat/drink to come across.
Aspartame is the artificial sweetener that you usually see in products that claim to have zero sugar. The textbook example of this are zero calorie sodas.
It’s made up of three components:
- Aspartic Acid
One of the main risks to your brain here is the Phenylalanine. It’s been seen to cross your brain’s blood-brain barrier which affects your production of neurotransmitters.
Aspartame is also thought to have some effect on your brain’s vulnerability to oxidative stress.
It’s even suggested that it could cause negative effects on your learning and mood. However, this is when you’re having it in excess.
An extreme study was done into this where participants were given 11 mg of the sweetener to every pound of their body weight for 8 days.
Participants were notably more irritable, depressed and even scored worse on mental tests.
It is rife for causing behavioral and cognitive problems.
Alcohol is one of the more obvious consumables linked to causing cognitive decline.
The more regulated you can be on it, the better it is for your brain.
Chronic, or excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to reducing your brain volume and generally disrupts your neurotransmitters. Essentially it works against the chemicals that you brain uses for communication.
With long-term abuse it can lead to deficiencies in Vitamin B1 which can eventually lead to Korsakoff’s syndrome which causes severe damage to the brain, memory loss, bad eyesight and general scrambled cognition.
However, moderate use may not be as bad – and may even have some benefits such as better heart health and reduced risk of diabetes. This ‘moderate use’ is believed to be around one glass of wine a day.
Summary: Bad Brain Foods
As you can see, there are plenty of foods and drinks out there which are common to most diets which cannot be good for you brain.
Here’s a quick recap of everything on our list and why they’re not good for your brain:
- Sugary Drinks and Sodas – High sugar has been linked to type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Refined Carbs – High GI and GL can reduce memory and increase dementia risk.
- Trans Fats – Some links to bad memory and Alzheimer’s, however there’s not enough concrete evidence but it looks likely.
- Processed Foods – May cause brain inflammation which negatively affects memory, learning, blood-brain barrier and brain plasticity.
- Aspartame – Sweetener with links to causing behavioral and cognitive issues when consumed in large amounts.
- Alcohol – Excessive consumption can cause huge memory issues, sleep disruption and mood swings in users.
These are all options that you need to keep more regulated, or removed from your diet if applicable.
It’s much better for your brain health to not abuse them, and eats these foods in moderation, or if possible, not at all.