6. Processed Foods
Processed foods such as deli meats, microwave meals, and prepackaged snacks are usually high in salt, sugar, refined flour, and chemical additives. Filling your stomach with these items, instead of the nutrients you need, deprives your brain cells of wholesome nutrition. Furthermore, these ingredients contribute to weight gain. A study reported in the Neurology suggests that obesity may contribute to a lower volume of brain gray matter. Snack on items like apple slices spread with nut butter or a handful of fresh berries instead of highly processed snack cakes or potato chips.
5. Refined Carbohydrates
Foods that are high in refined carbohydrates are foods that contain sugar, refined white flour, and processed grains. In comparison with complex carbohydrates, these foods are quickly digested and can cause fast spikes in blood sugar levels. A study in the journal Nutrients found that diets high in fat and sugar can cause deficits in memory and understanding. Skip products like white bread, white rice, and pasta. Instead, treat your body to the complex carbohydrates found in foods such as beans, oats, sweet potatoes, and brown rice.
Too much salt can trigger high blood pressure and heart disease. Excessive salt can also affect your brain, causing cerebral small vessel disease, ischemic brain injury, dementia, and decreased cognitive function. An animal study in Nature Neuroscience found that a high intake of salt caused reduced mental functioning in mice. This result was independent of the effects of salt on blood pressure and blood vessels. Researchers in this study surmise that salt decreases mental functioning due to an immune response in the gut that causes a diminished blood supply to the brain.