Diet Can Influence Your Brain Performance
For successful people, their brain performance is very important and what you put on your plate every day can have a huge impact on the health of your brain tomorrow. If you answered yes to any of the questions in this section, you are eating and drinking things that are harming your brain. Cleaning up your diet is a major part of the Better Brain program. The right diet can be a powerful tool to promote healing and enhance brain function. The wrong diet can promote brain degeneration and accelerate brain aging.
Trans Fats and Saturated Fats
This may be the most important question on the Brain Audit. If you are not aware of the importance of dietary fat and brain function, chances are you are eating the wrong fat and destroying your brain cells. Your brain is made up primarily of fat. Where does all that fat come from? Quite simply, the fat that ends up in your brain is from the fat you consume in your diet. Some types of fat (especially fat found in fatty fish) are great for your brain. These fats can enhance overall brain function and the ability to focus are especially important for maintaining a good mood. Other types of fat, however, are terrible for the brain. The worst fats of all are transfatty acids, which are commonly found in many brands of margarine, processed baked goods, fried foods, and saturated fats, which are found in animal products (meat and full-fat dairy products like butter). These fats not only promote inflammation but prevent good fats from getting into your brain cells. Both trans-fatty acids and saturated fats can make your brain cells hard and rigid and interfere with the brain’s ability to process information quickly. As I tell my patients, if you eat a diet high in “sluggish fat,” you will have a “sluggish brain.”
Aspartame, a commonly used artificial sweetener (found in diet soda and other diet foods) may be toxic to your brain. Aspartame contains chemicals called excitotoxins that can cross the brain/blood barrier and overstimulate brain cells, which disrupts the normal production of neurotransmitters and promotes free radicals. In susceptible people, excitotoxins may trigger headache and mood swings and may even promote the growth of brain tumors. There are two other commonly used food additives that also contain excitotoxins:
More Meat Than Vegetables
If you’re not filling up your plate with vegetables, you are missing out on important antioxidants found in plants (also in fruit) that can shield your
brain from the damaging effects of free radicals
Alcohol—Two Your Health!
Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the world, and its health effects, like those of caffeine, are dose related. One or two servings of any kind of alcoholic beverage daily (one serving equals 3 ounces of wine, one standard shot glass of spirits, or one 12-ounce bottle of beer) reduces the risk of neurological disease, but more than two glasses of alcohol daily increases the risk. Alcohol contains beneficial antioxidants that protect against heart disease, stroke, and even some forms of cancer. The problem is, alcohol also contains toxic chemicals that can cause free radicals. ( Also Read: Drugs That Can Decrease Brain Performance ) Alcohol is first purified by the liver, the body’s prime detoxifying organ, before it is absorbed by the body. More than two glasses of alcohol can place a heavy burden on the liver and deplete glutathione, the brain’s primary antioxidant. Alcohol should not be used in any amount by people who have liver problems or who are on those medications that should not be mixed with alcohol (such as acetaminophen and many of the NSAIDs).
The Sugar Connection
Can’t remember where you put the candy bar? If you’re having trouble remembering things and are generally forgetful, it could be due to sugar overload. People who eat sweets regularly (which I define as two or more servings daily of sugar-laden desserts like a cup of ice cream, two cookies, a slice of cake, a glass of soda, or even a small bag of chips) are putting the health of their brains at risk. Excess sugar consumption increases the risk of elevated levels of blood sugar, which in turn increases the risk of developing memory problems at an earlier age than normal. Eating sweets could also increase your risk of neurological diseases. A recent study of patients with Parkinson’s disease found that they ate larger quantities of sweet foods and more snacks than their healthy peers.
Sources And Citations:
1. Better Brain Book By David Perlmutter