Yesterday, I talked about the brain draining influence of heavily processed food. And believe me, the research out there gives the term “SAD” (as in Standard American Diet) a whole new meaning.
In fact, one study found eating fast food raises your risk of depression by 40 percent. But it’s not just burgers and fries that will creep up on you.
This same study showed that people who eat more baked goods—like croissants, doughnuts, cronuts, and bagels—are also more likely to wind up with depression. Which is hardly surprising, since these high-carb foods might as well be pure sugar to your body.
And sugar is toxic to your brain. To your neurotrophins, in particular. These proteins don’t just guard against depression. They also fend off oxidative stress and help to replenish your brain cells.
Small wonder, then, that carbs can speed up memory loss. And not by a small amount, either.
One study showed that elderly adults with high-carbohydrate diets have nearly quadruple the risk of mild cognitive impairment compared to low-carb eaters. And, needless to say, the same trend applied to high-sugar diets, too.
Of course, now that we’ve hit on one of my favorite topics, let’s move right along to another…
The role gut bacteria plays in this equation is finally getting some lip service in the conventional medical world. The evidence points to a stepping-stone pathway—with certain foods leading to gut dysbiosis. Which leads to inflammation. Which leads to deteriorating mental health.
This is something I’ve been saying for years. Yet mainstream medicine is only just starting to understand and appreciate the mechanisms at work here. But research definitely suggests a link between food-triggered “brain fog” and gut dysfunction.
This makes a lot of sense, when you consider that your gut is essentially your second brain. It produces many of the neurotransmitters that make you happy. And if it isn’t working properly, then neither are you.
Leaky gut in particular comes with a lot of problems, from poor nutrient absorption to inflammation. Even a mild sensitivity to wheat proteins can cause this condition. And a lot of people find that eliminating grains altogether is the only way to start feeling better.
So if you suffer from persistent “brain fog,” please try keeping a food journal. Review what you’re eating on a daily and weekly basis. And keep track of how you feel. Some of the patterns you notice may reveal a problem food for you—whether it’s gluten, another grain, or some other food that just doesn’t agree with you.
And once you’ve identified a sensitivity to a certain food, please… don’t think twice about eliminating it completely and permanently. Even if you think it’s going to make your life difficult. Because I promise you–it won’t be as bad as you think.
True story: I was at a birthday party a couple of weeks ago. All of the passed hors d’oeuvres featured some kind of bread product. And of course, everyone I was with kept saying, “oh, just this once.”
Now, we’ve all succumbed to that impulse at one time or another. (Except it’s almost never “just this once.” But that’s another story.) I stuck to my guns, though. And do you know what happened?
The chef starting preparing dishes I could eat. And I didn’t even have to ask. Amazing, right?
Granted, real life isn’t always a brilliantly catered cocktail party. But it just goes to show you. Saying “no” really can be easy, if you let it. And your peace of mind—and body—always makes it worth your while in the end.
“Culinary Culprits: Foods That May Harm the Brain.” Medscape. Jan 30, 2014.