The Five Foods Brain Experts Keep Out Their Diets

Whether you choose healthy eating to remain fit or want to potentially avoid any potential health scares as you grow older, you’d probably want to know people are now being warned of five foods to ultimately avoid if you’d like to keep your “memory and focus sharp.”

Many ingredients and foods are known to be good for your health, such as fatty fish such as tuna and salmon,” which is “an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, associated with good brain health and a reduced risk of cognitive decline.”

However, as commonly known, there are also a number of foods that can have a negative effect on your body.

Consuming too many unhealthy and highly-processed foods can cause slowed cognitive function and even memory and attention problems.

“Ongoing research increasingly indicates that a poor diet is a risk factor for memory impairments during normal ageing and increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease,” says Neuroscience News.

Nutritional psychiatrist and Harvard nutritionist Dr Uma Naidoo has reported to CNBC on how important it is to consider your diet in terms of influencing your mood and mental well-being. She mentioned “leafy greens, fruit, vegetables and seafood” as examples as foods that are good for you – as well as listing five foods you should avoid for the sake of your brain health.

Five foods to avoid:

Industrial and processed seed oils

“Highly processed oils generally are taken from for example soybeans, corn, rapeseed or sunflowers and have a lot of omega-6 fatty acids which can lead to brain inflammation if taken in large amounts,” Dr Uma Naidoo says.

“It is better to use olive oil as an alternative.”

Added and refined sugars

“A high intake of sugar can lead to an excess of glucose in the brain,” Dr Uma explains.

“While we need glucose for cells to operate, too much can lead to a deterioration in memory with less plasticity in the hippocampus - the part of the brain used for memory. There are some foods which you may not think have added sugars like pasta sauces or soups.”

Processed foods

“While processed foods are generally known to be unhealthy in large amounts, for the brain it can lead to a higher risk of degenerative disease earlier in life.”

Dr Uma mentions studies have also found that those who eat ultra-processed items like baked foods and fizzy drinks are more likely to suffer from mild depression. 

Artificial sweeteners

“Artificial sweeteners can increase bad gut bacteria which in turn can lead to people suffering from feelings of depression and anxiety.” 

Dr Uma Naidoo states that Aspartame has been found to be especially harmful by causing anxiety in studies, while also causing oxidation that increases free radicals in the brain.

In July 2023, the International Agency for Research on Cancer labelled Aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Fried foods

“Battered foods may be more appealing, but they can also damage the brain.”
They can harm the blood vessels that supply the brain with blood, Dr Uma explains.

She mentions adopting a Mediterranean diet as a good guide to help reduce the chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Society states that “evidence shows that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and cereals, and low in red meat and sugar could help reduce dementia risks.”

“The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to adapt various aspects of your lifestyle, including eating certain foods, taking regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.”