5 Brain-Degenerating Foods Older Adults Should Avoid And What To Eat Instead To Prevent Permanent Lapses In Mental Health
Sponsored by Koru Nutrition
Eating well is not only great for the body, but also for the brain.
While the role that proper nutrition has in maintaining overall body health is widely accepted, it’s role in maintaining brain health is something many older adults don’t usually think of.
What we do and don’t eat can have a profound effect on the wat our brain functions, especially when it comes to our later life memory-recall and cognitive ability.
The first step to support your brain health is to eliminate certain foods which are shown to boost memory loss and cognitive decline.
Here’s a few of the most common dietary culprits that are known to accelerate brain-aging.
Top 5 Worst Foods for Brain Health
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in many sugar-free drinks and products.
People often choose to use it when trying to loose weight or manage their blood sugar levels. However, this sweetener has been linked to behavioural and cognitive problems.
These problems stem mainly from the fact that aspartame is mainly made of phenylalanine, methanol and aspartic acid.
Phenylalanine can cross the blood-brain barrier and can disrupt the production of neurotransmitters. Additionally, aspartame is a chemical stressor and may increase the brain’s vulnerability to oxidative stress.*
Some scientists may suggest these factors may cause negative effects on learning and emotions, which have been observed when aspartame is consumed in excess.
One study found people who consumed artificially sweetened soft drinks had an increased risk of stroke and memory decline*.
Despite findings, aspartame is still considered a safe sweetener overall is people consume it at moderate doses.
Overall, we strongly suggest to avoid aspartame products and opting to use products sweetened naturally by allulose and/or monk fruit extract instead.
2) Sugary Drinks
A high intake of sugar-filled beverages (like soda, energy drinks, fruit juice, etc.) not only expands your waistline and boosts your risk of blood sugar disorders and poor heart health – it can also lead to negative effects on the brain.
Large intakes of sugary drinks increases the odds of developing a blood sugar disorder, which has further been shown to increase the risk of severe brain degenerative conditions.
The main component of many popular sugary drinks that makes them so bad isn’t just the high sugar content, but also the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which consists of 55% fructose and 45% glucose.*
HFCS is not just found in sugary drinks however, they are also in many “healthy” foods including many yoghurts, coffee creamer, canned fruit, and salad dressings.
Studies have discovered that high fructose can lead to a reduction in brain function, memory, learning and the formation of brain neurons.*
Another study revealed that diets containing high-fructose foods would lead to more weight gain, worse blood sugar, and a higher risk of metabolic disorders and memory impairments.*
Mercury is a heavy metal contaminant and neurological poison that can be kept within every tissue of our body for a long time, our brains included.
While mercury overexposure can occur due to industrial processing, eating seafood is the most common way humans accumulate dangerous levels of mercury in our bodies.
The mercury found within seafood is a highly poisonous form called methylmercury, which is formed when mercury dissolves into the water. Predatory fish, such as mackerel, swordfish and certain types of tuna, are especially susceptible to accumulating mercury.
After ingesting mercury, it spreads all around their body, concentrating in the brain, liver and kidneys.*
A study in the Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health noted that many incidents of mercury poisoning have led to long-term nerve damage, which can cause:
- Problems with memory and concentration*
- Confusion or altered states of alertness*
- Intelligence disorders and low IQ*
- Slow reflexes*
- Damaged motor skills*
4) Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates; mainly white products like rice, flour, pasta, and most cereals are high-glycemic index (HGI) foods.
This means your body digests them very quickly, causing a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels.
Foods that are HGI have been found to impair brain function. Research has shown that a single high glycemic meal can impair memory in adults.*
This effect on memory may be due to the inflammation of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that affects some aspects of memory.
Inflammation is recognized as a risk factor for degenerative diseases of the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia*.
Healthy, lower-GI carbs include foods such as rooted vegetables, high-fiber fruits, and sprouted grains.
5) Highly Processed Packaged Food
“Processed food” includes food that has been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or changed in nutritional composition with fortifying, preserving or preparing in different ways.
Highly processed foods tend to be packaged foods that are high in sugar or saturated fats, chemical preservatives or excessive salt.
Foods like chips, crackers, sweets, processed meats, store bought sauces etc, are all high in calories and low in nutritional value. They are the types of foods that are very easy to eat and thus can lead easily to weight gain.
The nutrients in many processed foods in the Western diet can also negatively affect the brains function.
A study including 52 people found that a diet high in unhealthy ingredients resulted in lower levels of sugar metabolism in the brain and a decrease in brain tissue. These factors are thought to be markers for cognitive degeneration*.
It’s important to note that not all processed foods are bad. In fact, some minimally processed food can help you eat more nutrient-dense foods. Milk and juices sometimes are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, and sprouted grain breakfast cereals may have added fiber.
Processed food falls on a spectrum from minimally to heavily processed:
- Minimally processed foods — such as bagged spinach, cut vegetables and roasted nuts — often are simply pre-prepped for convenience.
- Foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness include canned tomatoes, frozen fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna (in waters, not oils or syrups).
- Foods with ingredients added for flavor and texture (sweeteners, spices, oils, colors and preservatives) include jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt and cake mixes are heavily processed.
- Ready-to-eat packaged foods — such as crackers, chips, granola and deli meat — are more heavily processed.
- The most heavily processed foods often are pre-made meals including frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners.
How to Preserve and Extend Your Cognitive Vitality at any Age
Creating an awareness around certain foods in our diet and how they affect our brain is perhaps one of the more overlooked yet critical aspects to maintaining cognitive health as we age.
Just as foods listed above are proven to exacerbate losses in memory and cognitive function, certain foods and nutrients are able to have the opposite effect. Scientific research has uncovered several dietary habits that are clinically-proven to be conducive in correcting chemical imbalances in the brain to promote long-lasting mental health.
Increasing amounts of studies are showing how important it is to have a healthy diet for proper brain function.
Top 3 Ingredients for Preserving Mental Ability
1) Ginkgo Biloba
Gingko Biloba is extracted from the dried leaves of the plant and is usually available in liquid extracts, capsules and tablets.
Ginkgo Biloba has a handful of studies that support the notion that supplementation may increase mental performance and perceived well-being. Research suggests that taking ginkgo biloba improves your mood and facilitates better blood flow throughout the body, especially within the brain area.
The therapeutic properties of the ginkgo plant are said to include treatment for blood disorders and memory problems, enhancement of cardiovascular function and to improve eye health.
Several studies have found ginkgo biloba to be possibly beneficial for stabilising and improving cognitive and social functioning within patients.*
This is because gingko biloba promotes good blood circulation in the brain and protects the brain and other parts from neuronal damage.
2) Bacopa Monnieri
The bacopa monnieri, sometimes called Brahmi or herb of grace, grows in wet, tropical environments.
Bacopa monnieri has been used for centuries for a variety of purposes, including improving memory, reducing anxiety, and treating epilepsy*.
In fact, research shows that it may boost brain function and alleviate anxiety and stress, among other benefits.
Additionally, a 12-week study in 46 healthy adults observed that taking 300 mg of Bacopa monnieri daily significantly improved the speed of processing visual information, learning rate, and memory, compared with the placebo treatment.*
This is because bacopa monnieri is packed with powerful antioxidants that may be able to help protect against cell damage, as well as helping fight against inflammation.
3) Lions Mane
Lion’s Mane is a beautiful mushroom appearing as a white waterfall of cascading icicles on broadleaf trees and logs. Used in the Orient for thousands of years, it is said to give one “nerves of steel and the mind of a lion,” as it is known as a brain tonic supporting nervous system health.
Lion’s Mane has been used as an herbal tonic for centuries by monks and herbalists to support mental clarity, focus and nerve growth.
Several studies have already demonstrated its antibacterial and anticarcinogenic effects.*
Your brain naturally slows down over time. The symptoms you associate with aging — like memory loss and lack of focus — are caused by factors like shrinking neurons and damaged brain cells. Studies show that lion’s mane mushroom can actually support your brain health by stimulating the creation of two important compounds: nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).**
NGF and BDNF are proteins that stimulate the production of new cells and strengthen existing ones. NGF also plays an important role in forming myelin, the sheath around nerve cells that helps brain cells do their job. BDNF increases brain plasticity, which helps your brain cells stay resilient in the face of stress or aging. Find out other ways you can increase BDNF.
Koru Nutrition has made it easier than ever to naturally support your brain health with the creation of Memory Fx
Memory Fx contains ginkgo biloba, lions mane, bacopa monnieri, alpha gpc, acetyl-l-carnitine, l-tyrosine, and huperzine A. Seven active ingredients that are clinically backed to help give you results.
Through the optimal pairing of these natural compounds, Memory Fx supports your cognitive function, allowing your mind to remain clear and sharp.
Unlike other cognitive supplements, Memory Fx contains a combination of ingredients, all vital for your brain.
With a daily intake of Memory Fx, many of Koru Nutrition’s customers have reported the following benenfits:
- Enhanced memory recollection*
- Sharper focus (no more brain fog)*
- More motivation and drive to do the things they love*
- All-day energy & mental clarity*
- Improved weight management & fewer cravings*