5 Foods Bad for the Brain : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Wednesday Apr 25 | BY |
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Salty foods aren’t only bad for your heart—they can mess with your thinking.

The phrase “we are what we eat” is true not only for the body, but the brain as well. A physical organ just like the heart or the liver, the brain thrives on natural, raw foods. Other foods readily available in our world today, however, not only raise the risk of heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes, but may actually damage the brain itself.

1. Fast Foods (Fatty Foods)
You know it’s bad for you. Here’s another reason why. According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, fatty foods damaged the hypothalamus region of the brain in animal studies. The hypothalamus produces hormones that control hunger, thirst, sleep, moods, and other natural rhythms in the body.

Rats and mice fed a high-fat diet similar to that of many Americans had inflamed hypothalamuses after one day, and after a short period of time where the body tried to repair the damage, the inflammation persisted for 8 more months until the end of the study.

Another study published in the journal Neurology found that eating fast food was connected with brain shrinkage that can lead to Alzheimer’s. Researchers theorized that trans fats were the likely culprits.

2. Salty Foods
They’re hard on the heart, but research shows they’re hard on the brain, too. A three-year study of more than 1,200 people found that those participants with the highest daily sodium intake and the lowest level of exercise performed poorer over time on cognitive tests than those with low sodium intake and an active lifestyle.

3. Processed Foods
Artificial food additives, like preservatives and food dyes, have shown in studies to affect the cognitive functioning and behavior of some children. A 2007 study in Lancet showed that dietary intake of artificial food colorings and additives, particularly the preservative “benzoate,” resulted in an increase in hyperactivity.

Artificial food additives make up more than 3,000 chemicals that are added to foods. MSG, for example, used to flavor foods, was found in studies to destroy nerve cells in the brain, and to encourage seizure-like behavior. Another study in 1984 showed that so-called “exitotoxins,” food additives that affect the nervous system, were hazardous to the developing nervous systems of young children.

4. Fried Foods
Researchers from Spain found that compounds released from common cooking oils raised the risk of neurologic degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Such breakdown chemical structures known as “aldehydes” are formed when vegetable oils like sunflower oil are heated to normal frying temperatures. Researchers also tested olive and flaxseed oil and found the same results, with flaxseed and sunflower creating the most toxic aldehydes with the least amount of frying time.

5. Foods with Pesticide Residue
A recent study examining data from over 25 million children found that organophosphate pesticides may have effects on children’s IQ and on preterm birth and ADHD. Another study from Nature Neuroscience found that long-term exposure to a widely used pesticide kills brain cells and triggers symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. Researchers from the University of North Dakota also found a link between pesticide exposure and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Some areas of the brain displayed a loss of neurons in particular areas.

Do you manage your diet to protect your brain? Please share your story.

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Photo courtesy phantomswife (Sara) via Flickr.com.

“Does Fast Food Cause Brain Damage?” The Week, January 9, 2012, http://theweek.com/article/index/223096/does-fast-food-cause-brain-damage.

Jill Ettinger, “Fast Food, Trans Fats Linked to Alheimer’s,” The Canadian, January 8, 2012, http://www.agoracosmopolitan.com/news/health/2012/01/08/2611.html.

Katie Moisse, “Too Much Salt, Too Little Exercise Bad for Brain,” ABC News, August 25, 2011.

Carol Ann Brannon, “Making the Connection: How What We Eat Impacts Learning,” Kids Enabled, http://www.kidsenabled.org/articles/index.php/200906/511/.

“Chemical Cuisine: Learn About Food Additives,” Center for Science in the Public Interest, http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#bht.

Olney JW, “Exitotoxic Food Additives—Relevance of Animal Studies to Human Safety,” Neurobehav Toxicol Teratol 1984 Nev-Dec;6(6): 455-62. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6152304.

John Phillip, “Toxic Compounds From Fried Foods Cause Cancer and Deteriorate Brain Health,” February 28, 2012, http://www.naturalnews.com/035088_fried_foods_aldehydes_toxic_compounds.html.

Bellinger, DC, “Chemical Exposures Cause Child IQ Losses that Rival Major Diseases,” Environmental Health News, February 24, 2012. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/2012/01/2012-0223-chemicals-iq-loss-similar-to-disease/.

Joseph B. Verrengia, “Study: Pesticides May Trigger Parkinson’s,” ABC News, November 6, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117843&page=1#.T4tsyHbCMYZ.

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. mike says:

    Yesir healthy fats and cholesterol!, raw cultured dairy, kefir, raw eggs, black sheeps/goat yogurt,..and..omega3s from chia, flax, and hemp seed, walnuts, wild planet tuna..

  2. mike says:

    Really interested in mineral water article but can access please help me kevo!

  3. Daniel Donovan says:

    This is an “exclusive”?

  4. Julia says:

    I don’t think “fatty foods” are the same as “fast foods” – one of them is junk food, the other can be very healthy as we need healthy fats, ESPECIALLY the brain.

    Also, for number 2, “those participants with the highest daily sodium intake and the lowest level of exercise performed poorer over time on cognitive tests than those with low sodium intake and an active lifestyle” – the methodology seems highly flawed. They are manipulating too many variables at the same time, both the level of salt intake and the level of physical ex.

    I just started the GAPS diet (today!) to heal my gut, and it’s full of healthy fats. The gut is “the second brain”!

  5. carvacrol says:

    Luckily, I rarely eat any of those foods these days. But I think that the type of people that eats lots of these foods don’t really care. They will just take a ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude. It’s a strange world that we live in where most people seem to be intentionally damaging their health.

  6. LynnCS says:

    The answer is…YES! Yes I do take care of limiting all those bad actors. Even tho I’ve done it all wrong over the past years, I’ve done many things somewhat good too. Now I am a lot more aware, so when you know better, you do better. Today I can’t imagine eating meat. Anything meat would give me, I can get in the plant world. Can’t imagine going to a fast food restaurant. No heated oils. Good Omega oils. Healthy salts are needed for healthy adrenals etc. Since I don’t use prepared foods, I know everything I eat. It’s really easy. I hope everyone can get used to throwing together great food from all natural ingredients. I do still eat some whole Greek yogurt daily. When I use probiotics any other way, I still get a bad gut reaction. Yes, I’ve heard all the negative rants abt dairy. I’ve even said..Never, but it seems to work for me. My big shortcoming is physical exercise. Probably the most important thing I could do for myself. I do some daily, but I know it’s not enough. Need to build some muscle back after years of being un well. I do know it’s never too late, but time’s a wastin.

    Thanks for all the great articles, Kevin. It’s a great encouragement.

  7. mmmh..

    the brain runs on glycogen

    and fatty acids are good for the brain?

    so is this a paradox.

    and fat covers glucose

    its a lot controversityes out there

  8. Brianna says:

    Well I’m just totally jazzed that you cited research done at the University of North Dakota – that’s where I’m doing my research and getting my Ph.D! I may even know the researchers who did the work you’re talking about. Pretty cool 🙂

    Great info for those of us who are new to a healthier lifestyle- and good reminders for those of us who are experienced “pros”!

  9. Amy says:

    I definitely do best on my exams and think the most clearly when I eat mostly raw fruits and veggies. Some cooked root veggies ground me if I am feeling to flighty. A small amount of grains are good but too many make my mind a little foggy. I also throw some astragalus and ginko powder in my morning smoothy and that seems to really help.

  10. Dr.D says:

    You need to qualify the kind of fat and the kind of salt that is bad. Good fats are good and necessary for brain health, and sea/himalayen salt is good. Maybe read what your pal Dr. Brownstein has to say about salt.

  11. Dan Henning says:

    COLD PRESSED VIRGIN COCONUT OIL THE BEST FAT YOU CAN EAT PERIOD. It REVERSES Alzheimers! It its awesome for your body..I eat at least 3-5 tbs. aday and I rub it into my skin..head to toe..FANTASTIC stuff people..get some TODAY and read Dr. Bruce Fifes books on it. Its a GOD SEND.

  12. Rt Gon says:

    Have been using lots of USP salt for years and I consider myself in the top 1%. I worry about the bromide and inorganic potassium in sea salt.

  13. christine says:

    I don’t see here what the problem is to the people that don’t understand what fatty fast foods are. Fast food is just that, fast and unhealthy, from fatty pizzas, hamburgers, fish and chips, etc etc. Does not need any explanation. Trans fats in the oils used to fry fast foods are bad for you. Trans fats also in margarines and baked goods such as biscuits and cakes etc. As for flaxseed oil and sunflower oil, they should not be used for frying/heating at all, ever. When talking about fatty foods one does not associate them with being good. Someone will state if foods contain “good fats” which one then associates with healthy fats.

  14. jane says:

    I use celtic salt only when making sourkraut.It’s used to draw water from the cabbage leaves, left to ferment for 3 weeks, drained off and the cabbage well rinsed off. Then I start the next batch. I eat the batch within a week, so 2 – 3 weeks between meals that include my sourkraut, and that is my only added salt intake.

  15. Ruth says:

    My husband is bi-polar. It is GREATLY controlled by our food choices.

  16. John says:

    Americanas are dumb nd ignorant, i don’t know how you survive, half of the population is fat and no wonder the 99% issue happened to u. Coz u didn’t notice it.

  17. Thanks for the article! It is wonderful to see a growing amount of content on the internet appearing about the benefits of raw vegan foods to nutritionally address health issues. I have bipolar, hypertensive, obesity/overweight, and potentially-diabetic symptoms. The best results I’ve had so far have been by using the following foods to help my mind and body feel and function better:

    *Raw or cold-pressed/expeller-pressed extra virgin coconut oil. (Grounding, which heals and prevents manic periods; heals and prevents depression; raises energy levels; promotes weight loss. I’d like to thank and give credit to Kevin Trudeau and his book “Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know” for that one.)
    *Raw leafy greens, mostly the nutrient-dense, light-tasting kale. Juiced or eaten as salad. (Grounding; slows sugar-absorption. Heals and prevents depression.
    *Raw or non-fried root vegetables, especially batatas (a variety of sweet potato), which balance blood sugar, and the most common sweet potato or yam. The high potassium and magnesium of these sweet potatoes are particularly helpful in healing high blood pressure. They can, however, trigger overeating in those who have that or a similar eating disorder or food addiction, as I do,, so “use” with caution.and/or support if necessary.

    Thanks again for your work, and for providing this forum to discuss natural, dietary, and nutritional methods of improving mental and physical health and well-being!

    Cassendre Xavier
    Author of “Expanding Your Capacity for Joy: a Raw Vegan Comfort Book, Sourcebook & Journal” print and ebook

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