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The Four Types of Foods That ZAP Your Brain Power the Most


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.

bad brain foods

A simple rule to know which foods are bad for your brain? If it's bad for your heart, it's likely also bad for your brain.

"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.

So if you value your brain power, which foods should you steer clear of?

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.

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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."

Other food additives to avoid include the food coloring Blue 1, which has been linked to brain tumors in mice.

What SHOULD You Eat for Brain Power?

Now that you know what to avoid to keep your brain in tip-top shape, here's what to look for, and indulge in:

brain food

Fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants are excellent for your brain power!

  • Leafy vegetables, like spinach

  • Fruits, especially blueberries and apples

  • Seeds and nuts, especially walnuts

  • Wild-caught, low-mercury fatty fish (salmon)

  • Organic eggs

  • Organic, grass-fed meats and chicken

  • Whole grains

  • Green tea and black tea

Recommended Reading

Seven Activities to Keep Your Brain Sharp

Improve Your Memory Quickly With These Nine Tips


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