5 foods that Harvard nutritionist says weaken memory and focus

2021-12-01 11:18:47
5 foods that Harvard nutritionist says weaken memory and focus

Studies show we might be able to reduce the possibility of dementia by avoiding foods that can compromise our gut bacteria and weaken our memory and focus, says Dr. Uma Naidoo, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and a nutrition specialist.

Naidoo wrote for CNBC that she tries to avoid or cut down on these five things “to fight inflammation and promote brain health, sharp thinking and good decision-making.”

Added sugars

Although the brain needs glucose — a form of sugar — to fuel cellular activities, too much could cause memory impairments and reduce the plasticity of the part of the brain that controls memory, Naidoo wrote.

“Consuming unhealthy processed foods like baked goods and soda, which are often loaded with refined and added sugars — often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup — floods the brain with too much glucose,” she said.

Fried foods

When it comes to brain health, Naidoo wrote, fried foods are a “less is more” dish. A 2016 Cambridge University study that included 18,080 people found that a diet high in fried foods was linked to lower scores in learning and memory.

The likely reason: These guilty pleasures cause inflammation that can damage the blood vessels that supply the brain with blood. Another study that year found that people who consumed more fried foods were more likely to develop depression in their lifetime.

If you eat fried food every day, Naidoo recommends cutting back to once a week or even once a month.

Carbohydrates with low fiber and high glycemic index

Bread and pasta might not be sweet, but your body processes them much the same way it does sugar. A 2018 study in Spain questioned more than 15,000 people to determine which carbs were linked to depression.

Carbohydrates such as whole grains and foods high in fiber were classified “better quality” and were ranked low on the glycemic index, which measures how fast foods convert to glucose during digestion. The quicker the conversion, the higher its GI ranking.

The researchers found that participants who ate more better-quality carbs were 30% less likely to develop depression. Low-GI foods include green veggies, most fruits, carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.


A new study, by King’s College London, has found a link between alcohol and dementia.

The study, led by consultant psychiatrist doctor Tony Rao, covered more than 15,000 over-50s over two years, during which time the quantity and frequency of when they drank was recorded and their thinking skills assessed.

The study found that just eight units of alcohol a week increases an individuals’ risk of developing dementia by fifty percent.

Processed meat

Processed meat like sausage and salami contain nitrates, which is used as a preservative and color enhancers in deli slices.

In a March 2020 study, researcher at Johns Hopkins Medical School found nitrates could alter gut bacteria in a way that causes bipolar disorder.


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