Food and drugs that harm your ‘memory’ transmitter

The diet that describes the type of food most eaten in the U.S. is known as the Western Diet — also appropriately named the Standard American Diet — or SAD.

And it truly is SAD. It’s packed with convenient food products that may be tasty but damage our health with every bite.

That’s because ultra-processed food and drinks bear little resemblance to real food and are chock-full of harmful additives banned in other countries, artificial and low-calorie sweeteners tied to blood clots and copious amounts of added sugars linked to 45 health conditions.

Unfortunately, those aren’t the only dangers that come with feasting on high-fat (saturated fats), sugary foods.

According to researchers at the University of Southern California, the evidence is piling up that junk food can cause lasting damage to your brain…

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It can start early

Past studies have shown that eating an unhealthy diet can increase a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Additionally, researchers have found that in patients with Alzheimer’s, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning — known as acetylcholine — gets depleted.

The California researchers suspected that diet could be a culprit. But what they discovered was worse than they expected…

The damage to the brain’s levels of acetylcholine could begin much sooner than anyone thought.

The scientists fed one group of rats a junk food diet during the time in their life that parallels human adolescence. It’s a time when the brain is undergoing dramatic levels of development and therefore could be more open to damage.

For comparison, another group of rats was given a healthy diet to eat instead.

The rats that ate the junk food lost out in a big way: being raised on a diet similar to our SAD diet, they failed memory tests and were unable to identify new objects in a scene they had explored days earlier.

And those memory problems stuck around even after they had been switched to a healthy diet for 30 days (which would be the same as a human reaching adulthood).

The junk food diet also resulted in:

  • Reduced levels of a protein that transports acetylcholine in the hippocampus (the brain region that consolidates memories and spatial information)
  • Impaired acetylcholine signaling in rats that had problems with the memory tests

As lead researcher, Anna Hayes explains, “Acetylcholine signaling is a mechanism to help them encode and remember those events, analogous to ‘episodic memory’ in humans that allows us to remember events from our past. That signal appears to not be happening in the animals that grew up eating the fatty, sugary diet.”

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Diet isn’t the only threat to acetylcholine

The good news is that you’re never too old to change your diet and save your brain.

Although the junk food you ate in your younger years may be showing up as memory problems now, you don’t have to simply accept them.

In fact, researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that the Mediterranean diet could make the brain work better with age. We know that it contains brain-supporting nutrition that’s been found to cross the blood-brain barrier and has been detected in the blood work of super-agers.

And plenty of research into healthy aging confirms nootropics can help our brains operate like younger ones.

But — and this is a big deal — bad food isn’t the only threat to your brain’s acetylcholine…

Many common medications, including those used to treat colds, bladder leaks, Parkinson’s and more interfere with how it works in your body. At least three recent studies point to a strong connection between these medications, considered anticholinergics, and cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s.

So ditch them (talk to your doctor first if prescribed) and start eating better — for your brain’s sake.

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Too Much Junk Food Could Cause Lasting Damage to The Brain — Science Alert

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.