Is What You Are Eating Killing Your Brain Cells

There is plenty of information available about foods for a healthy brain, but how about highlighting some of the foods that are damaging to brain health. Knowing the dangers of some of these additives and processed foods may help you make an informed decision about what you and your family should choose to eat for a healthy brain.

Junk Food
In a report published by Neurology magazine, scientists found that a diet high in trans fat might result in brain shrinkage. Other research found a connection between smaller brain size and lower brain function with a junk food diet, which of course is ultra-high in trans fat, a type of unsaturated fat that is more difficult for the body to digest.

The research used blood samples to check for diet biomarkers, and MRI scans to determine brain volume. Incidentally, Alzheimer’s sufferers in particular have a reduced brain volume compared to healthy individuals.

The results showed that those who achieved high scores in memory and thinking tests showed less brain shrinkage and had biomarkers reflecting a healthy diet. Those who had lower scores on cognitive tests had biomarkers indicating a diet high in trans fat.

Foods that are high in trans fat, and should be avoided if you value a healthy brain, include junk food such as fast food burgers, bakery products such as muffins and pastries, cookies, microwaveable popcorn, French fries, potato chips and fried chicken.

Try to substitute these “baddies” with types of food that lead to less brain shrinkage. According to CBS News Reports, they include foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as oily fish.

MSG
MSG, or monosodium glutamate to give it its full name, is frequently used in processed foods as a flavor enhancer. It is an excitotoxin, a neurotoxic chemical additive that has been found to harm nerve cells. It works by overexciting or over-stimulating nerve cells and can eventually kill the cells. Unfortunately, this includes brain cells which can result in serious neurological disorders and mental health problems.

MSG is not always listed on packaging by its common name. It may also be called hydrolyzed plant protein, yeast extract, glutamic acid, textured protein, barley malt, malt extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, vegetable protein extract, glutamate, sodium caseinate, soy protein isolate or calcium caseinate.

Now you know the truth about harmful MSG, under any of its pseudonyms, you should avoid it at all costs. Some of the biggest culprits for harboring MSG are salad dressing, low-fat yoghurt, frozen dinners, condensed canned soups such as Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup, canned meat,  potato chips and flavored crackers including Wheat Thins, Triscuits and Cheez-its.

MSG is not alone in harming brain cells. Other common excitotoxins are l-cysteine, used in commercial dough baking, and aspartic acid, a key ingredient in the artificial sweetener aspartame.

Try to replace these processed products with more natural brain-healthy foods such as fresh fruits, leafy vegetables, berries and whole grains, which are all known to slow cognitive decline.

Sources:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/29/brain-food-nutrients-sharp-vitamins_n_1173876.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500368_162-57349422/diet-patterns-linked-with-brain-health/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2081079/Junk-food-really-DOES-mess-brain-Research-shows-trans-fats-causes-brain-damage.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Trans-fats-and-nutrient-intake-linked-to-Alzheimer-s-brain-shrinkage

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