Close this search box.

Neurologists Share 9 Foods They Never (or Rarely) Eat

Which are the worst foods for your brain?

Brain health is crucial because the brain is one of the most vital and complex organs in the human body. Our cognitive center controls our behavior, thoughts, and emotions and is responsible for everything from memory to movement. Like any other organ in the body, the brain needs proper nourishment to function at its best.

The foods we eat significantly impact brain health, mood, memory, and cognitive function. Recently, there has been growing interest in the link between diet and brain health. Notably, there’s interest in how certain dietary choices can either support or harm the brain.

The brain relies on a steady supply of nutrients to work properly. A diet that is lacking in vital nutrients can negatively affect brain health. Specifically, some of the worst foods for your brain are those high in trans fats and saturated fats, which are associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. This is because foods high in sugar and processed foods can contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress.

We’ve asked three neurologists for their input on the matter, and they shared some of the worst foods for your brain you should avoid, or at least reduce, in your diet if you want to keep your brain healthy!

Let’s get started!

the worst foods for your brain
Photo by Pheelings media from Shutterstock

1. Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are often used as a sugar alternative in many processed foods and drinks. While they may seem healthier, studies have shown that they can negatively affect brain health. According to experts, consuming artificial sweeteners may also lead to changes in gut bacteria, which can impact both cognitive function and mood.

Moreover, consuming artificial sweeteners may lead to overeating and weight gain. In the long run, this can have harmful effects on brain health.

There’s also enough evidence showing that these sugar substitutes are some of the worst foods for your brain, as they may increase the risk of neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Sugary drinks

Sugary beverages, such as soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks, have been found to affect brain health negatively. Most of them are packed with added sugars, contributing to oxidative stress and inflammation. Both issues are linked to impaired cognitive function and a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Research has shown that consuming high amounts of sugar can affect cognitive function. Among the effects are slower learning, poorer memory, and decreased overall brain volume. One study showed that individuals who drank sugary beverages regularly had poorer memory function and lower total brain volume than those who didn’t.

Additionally, drinking sugary beverages can lead to type 2 diabetes.

3. Fried foods

Neurologists agree that fried foods are some of the worst foods for your brain. They are usually packed with unhealthy fats and often coated in refined flour. Research has found that eating high amounts of fried foods may impair cognitive function and result in a higher risk of dementia.

For instance, consuming fried foods more than four times a week increases the risk of cognitive impairment by 28%. This is compared to the risk of individuals limiting their consumption to less than once a week. Moreover, as some of the worst foods for your brain, fried foods are also known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Avoiding or limiting these foods and choosing healthier alternatives is recommended to support brain health. For instance, go for grilled, roasted, or baked options, and opt for whole, unprocessed foods.

4. Processed foods

No. 4 on our list of the worst foods for your brain is the category of processed foods. Often high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats, processed foods negatively affect brain health. Whether it’s chips, snack foods, or fast food, these all can contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. As already mentioned, this can affect cognitive function and lead to a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Moreover, processed foods can also lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity, which both have been associated with an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline.

In other words, processed foods are some of the worst foods for your brain, and you should aim to limit or avoid them if you want to keep it healthy.

processed meats
Photo by AtlasStudio from Shutterstock

5. Processed meats

Processed meats have been preserved by curing, smoking, or adding chemicals. Examples include deli meats, sausages, and bacon. These meats are often packed with sodium, nitrates, and unhealthy fats, which can contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation.

Several studies have concluded that processed meats are some of the worst foods for your brain, as consuming them can increase the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. The conclusion here is that it’s best to limit the consumption of processed meats.

Some unprocessed meats, such as fish and lean poultry, can be a healthier alternative. They may even bring some cognitive benefits.

6. White bread

White bread is a highly processed food stripped of natural nutrients, including vitamins and fiber. As a result, white bread is one of the worst foods for your brain and also a less healthy alternative to whole-grain bread, which provides more fiber and nutrients.

According to experts, a diet high in refined carbs, like white bread, may negatively affect brain health. This is because these carbs are known to cause insulin resistance, which is in turn associated with cognitive impairment and an increased risk of developing dementia.

Neurologists suggest limiting the intake of refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods, including white bread. Go for whole-grain bread, which delivers far more nutrients and fiber.

7. High-fat dairy

You probably wouldn’t tell, but high-fat dairy products are some of the worst foods for your brain. Several studies have shown that consuming them regularly has been linked to negative effects on cognitive function. The reason? The products’ high content of saturated fats.

These fats can increase inflammation in the body, resulting in a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Inflammation may also contribute to other health issues like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

However, not all fats are bad for your brain. Some of them, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts and fish, may lower the risk of dementia and contribute to better cognitive function.

It’s all about having a balanced diet that incorporates healthy fats and limits the consumption of unhealthy fats.

trans fat
Photo by Ekaterina Markelova from Shutterstock

8. Trans fats

Trans fats are a group of unsaturated fats that are commonly found in baked goods, fried foods, and processed foods. They’ve already been mentioned above a few times when linked to other foods.

In other words, meals containing trans fats are among the worst foods for your brain. Consuming high levels of these unhealthy fats has been linked to inflammation and oxidative stress, which both can affect your brain health.

Try to choose healthier fats, such as polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats. These fats are often found in seeds, nuts, and fatty fish. Reading nutrition labels can also help you reduce your intake of trans fats.

9. Alcohol

Our list of the worst foods for your brain wouldn’t be complete without a special mention: alcohol. Alcohol has both short-term and long-term effects on the brain. In the short term, it can impair memory formation, decision-making, and cognitive function. This can lead to impaired coordination, poor judgment, and increased risk-taking behaviors. Over the long term, frequent excessive alcohol consumption can inflict lasting harm on the brain.

Drinking too much alcohol regularly can also lead to nutrient deficiencies that can affect brain health. While it’s still unknown whether moderate drinking can have significant negative effects on the brain, chronic alcohol consumption is known to lead to long-term damage.

That’s why experts recommend consuming alcohol in moderation or avoiding it altogether.

Here’s our book recommendation to find out more about ways to promote brain health. If you liked our article on the worst foods for your brain, you may also want to read Incredible Dementia-Fighting Breakfast Foods: 6 Things to Start Eating NOW!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow us

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins
Error: Access Token is not valid or has expired. Feed will not update.