Do you ever feel foggy after lunch? Can’t think straight after certain meals? It’s not all in your head. The food you eat has a very real, and very significant, impact on your mind — including your ability to think clearly.
“There are certain nutrients that are important for a healthy brain and there are certain foods that you need to avoid, such as alcohol, because they destroy brain cells,” says Dr. John Westerdahl, director of Wellness and Lifestyle Medicine for Castle Medical Center in MidWeek.
1. Excessive Alcohol
Alcohol is a neurotoxin, which means it can poison your brain and kill your brain cells.
2. Refined Foods
White flour, white sugar, white rice and other highly processed foods (including soda) cause wild fluctuations in your blood sugar, from very high to very low (hypoglycemia). Though your brain is fueled by sugar (glucose), to run optimally it needs to receive a steady supply of fuel throughout the day.
If you eat mostly refined foods, it can cause imbalances in your brain that cause you to feel irritable, distracted, tired or fidgety.
3. Trans Fats (hydrogenated fats)
Trans fats are found in fried foods, margarine, baked goods, vegetable shortening, bread, cookies, snack crackers, salad dressings, granola bars, cereals, frozen dinners and much more.
These artificial fats raise your triglycerides, which may contribute to hardening of your arteries (atherosclerosis). This, in turn, increases your risk of not only heart attacks but also strokes (or “brain attacks”). Trans fats have also been linked to other mental problems ranging from ADHD and dyslexia to autism.
In fact, in 2004 researchers at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, California reported that rats raised on junk food (which often contains trans fats) could barely find their way around a maze, and had a harder time remembering how to solve problems they had already solved in the past.
4. Certain Food Additives
MSG, which is used as a flavor enhancer in many packaged foods, is an excitotoxin. According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, an author and neurosurgeon, excitotoxins are “a group of excitatory amino acids that can cause sensitive neurons to die.”