These are the worst foods and drinks for brain health, experts say

There are many reasons for wanting to eat well, but among them, a priority may be to promote brain health.

From lowering your risk of dementia to supporting mental health, experts say there are good reasons to limit these foods and drinks if you’re not already doing so.

Check out these details – and the reasons to limit these food and drink choices.

Fruit juices and other sugary drinks

It’s time to cut back on your juice and sugary drink intake.

“Many people [drink] a tall glass of fruit juice for breakfast without realizing how much it affects their brain. Fruit juices contain useful nutrients, but they are still sugary drinks that contain almost no fiber,” says Susan Kelly, dietitian at, a diagnostic laboratory that performs various medical tests.

“The consumption of sugary drinks is accused of reducing the total brain volume and the volume of the hippocampus,” she continues.

Sugary fruit juices can have a negative effect on your brain health.
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Kelly adds that it’s best to eat whole fruit instead of consuming it as a drink. The British Heart Foundation says the fruit mix causes natural sugars to be released “from within the fruit’s cell walls and become ‘free sugars'” – along with added sugars like honey and maple syrup.

Too much alcohol

Drinking a long-term happy hour or dinner ritual with wine is apparently not good for your noggin.

“Alcoholic beverages greatly affect the communication pathways in your brain. It becomes difficult for a person who drinks a lot of alcohol to remember things and process new data while leaving them easily depressed and disorderly,” says Kelly.

“To avoid such brain damage, women should drink no more than one drink of alcohol and men should stick to two drinks a day.”

Refined sugar

Why are sweet treats like pastries, ice cream, yogurt, cookies and candy bad for your brain? The answer lies in their refined sugar content.

“The gut contains beneficial bacteria known as microbiota, which play a key role in maintaining a healthy body and mind. These health benefits also include mental health. ‘is called the ‘gut-brain axis’,” suggests Trista K. Best, registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements (

She adds that to be in tune with this “gut-brain axis,” it’s important to understand the enteric nervous system, which is a vast network of neurons that line your intestinal tract and carry messages from the gut to the brain and back. . .

Tasty treats like ice cream can end up being bad for your brain.
Tasty treats like ice cream can end up being bad for your brain.
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“Researchers have discovered that there is a direct line of communication between the brain and your enteric nervous system: it’s what they call the gut-brain axis,” she says, referring to an article published in Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal.

“This line of communication works both ways, connecting the emotional and cognitive centers of the brain to peripheral gut function. This connection makes it extremely important to maintain a healthy gut and a balanced microbiome,” says Best, noting that sugar in the diet can lead to gut dysbiosis. [an imbalance].

Refined grains

Like refined sugar, minimize consumption of refined grain products like white bread, pizza, burritos, white rice, and white pasta, to help support a healthy, functioning brain.

“Refined grains increase inflammation and can worsen mental health,” says Sheetal DeCaria, a pain and mental health physician (

Instead of eating refined grains with foods like pasta, opt for a more wholesome option to help you out.
Instead of eating refined grains with foods like pasta, opt for a more wholesome option to help you out, experts say.
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“High levels of inflammation have been linked to mental health disorders, including depression and fatigue,” she continues, pointing to 2019 research published in the peer-reviewed journal, Frontiers in Immunology.

Instead of refined grains, opt for whole-grain products like whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, barley, oatmeal, brown rice, and millet, to name a few. -ones.

Consuming too many calories

It may not be about a specific food or food category, but consuming too many calories on a regular basis can potentially be bad news for brain health, experts say.

“Additionally, overeating or consuming a lot of calories over a shorter period of time is linked to an increased risk of memory problems and general cognitive impairment,” Kelly says.

“Overeating causes obesity which contributes to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, which is believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease and other brain diseases.”

Diet soft drinks

If you think diet sodas are better for your brain, be warned.

“Studies have shown that even diet sodas, which some are led to believe are healthier options, have been linked to elevated brain inflammation and increased risk of depression,” DeCaria says.

Diet drinks can end up causing inflammation in your brain.
Diet drinks can end up causing inflammation in your brain.
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The dual-board certified integrative pain physician cites 2015 research published in the journal Missouri Medicine. And while more scientific investigation is needed, there are plenty of other health reasons for giving up diet soda (it may decrease bone density, according to a 2020 study of high soda consumption and increased risk of fractures ) – so maybe it’s the straw that breaks the diet cola’s back.

Inflammatory foods

Another type of food to avoid to boost brain health are snacks that cause inflammation, according to Kelly.

“Junk food, fried foods, sugary foods, and red meat are your brain’s enemies if you overindulge,” Kelly says.

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