Given the busy schedule that we are always struggling to keep up with, most people prefer to either eat out or order fast food to their homes and offices – the reason why the percentage of fast food eaters has reached 44% worldwide. Although fast food is quite a convenient option to fulfill our appetites; however, before ordering your favorite fast food meal, you should know that unhealthy food does not only affect your waistline. In fact, consumption of junk food now directly affects your brain and degrades your mental health too.
Recent research has also successfully linked unhealthy diet and nutrition to increasing depression, anxiety, and dementia. But most importantly, it negatively influences your cognition.
The affected brain center:
The most critical brain structure that is mainly affected by the unhealthy diet is the hippocampus which is associated with learning, memory as well as the mood of a person. As the hippocampus directly controls the cognition and feelings of a person, therefore the idea that nutrition affects your mental health has recently been given an in-depth thought.
The hippocampus is also the area of the brain that tells us to stop eating when we are full. However, an impaired brain system would mean that the stimulus to prevent us from overeating would be weaker, and that could lead to obesity and further cognitive impairment.
The brain is the controlling center of our body and to keep us active and alert throughout the day; it is essential that the brain is supplied with nutrients that are required to boost it rather than shut it down. Food such as fish or olive oil especially has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia while people who continued to consume junk food for many years starved their brain of the energy providing nutrients.
As already mentioned above, food also has a significant impact on our daily mood. Junk food fails to maintain the coordination of our emotions and mood leading to an overall feeling of anxiety and annoyance. If the right type of food is not eaten then the risk of going into depression increases which can further develop into a schizophrenic condition.
Sustainable amounts of calorie provide your brain the energy required to do all the thinking and calculations. However, consuming high excess calorie food only weakens your brain’s cognitive center that is responsible for your learning and memory. As a result, the person starts to become more forgetful and is unable to retain old memories.
The link between food and nutrition:
By now you must have read it many times that eating vastly affects the cognitive brain center. But how exactly? There are some basic mechanisms taking place inside your body that are responsible for the effects your diet has on your brain. Gut hormones, the hormones produced in the brain itself and neurotrophic factors respond to food intake. So remember that you are not making the food. Instead, the food makes you.
The terrible choice of foods:
Trans fat has been associated with difficulty in remembering words. According to a recent study, participants who consumed Trans fats on a daily basis could recall 0.76% fewer words.
According to another research, saturated diet was found to impair the functioning of the part of the brain that controls motivation and well-being. In fact, it further dulled the reward center causing the subjects to eat more to compensate for the feeling of dissatisfaction.
Excess intake of carbohydrates blocks insulin’s ability to control how brain cells use and store sugar for processing thoughts and emotions thereby causing direct damage to the cognitive and learning centers of the brain.
The right choice of food:
The best way to keep your brain and body healthy is to consume the right nutrients. The best food that contributes to improving your learning skills and thinking abilities are:
- Whole grains
- Oily fish
- Black Currants
- Pumpkin seeds
The impact of nutrition on brain function has achieved a great deal of attention in the recent years. Studies are being carried out to estimate the extent of damage caused by improper diet.
If you feel that your diet is lacking nutrients, it is best to work with a licensed dietician or a nutrition expert. The good news is that most dieticians have now incorporated telemedicine into their practice so you can contact them using your smartphone or laptop.