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Certain popular foods can ‘age’ your brain, neuroscientist warns

Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia

What we eat plays an enormous role in the health and wellbeing of our bodies.

However, many of us may not consider the impact it has on our minds.

A neuroscientist has warned that diet could be “ageing” our brains and advised on ways to help prevent cognitive decline.

Consultant and mindset coach Emily McDonald, from the US, shared her tips to prevent symptoms such as brain fog and forgetfulness.

“Processed foods have been linked to cognitive ageing – so giving us brain fog and forgetfulness,” she explained.

“The gut brain connection is very real.”

Examples of common processed foods include:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Cheese
  • Bread
  • Savoury snacks, such as crisps, sausage rolls, pies and pasties.
  • Meat products, such as bacon, sausage, ham, salami and paté
  • Microwave meals or ready meals
  • Cakes and biscuits.

Previous studies have also linked the consumption of ultra-processed foods (processed foods that typically contain five or more ingredients) with cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes among other health problems.

Instead Emily, 24, advised eating whole foods and “good” fats.

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She said: “Whole foods and good fats are good for our brain – such as avocados. Blueberries are really good for your brain.”

Whole foods include:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Legumes, nuts, and seeds.

The impact of mobile phones

Emily also said we shouldn’t reach for our phones as soon as we get up in the morning – and instead should wait at least 20 minutes before scrolling.

“Our brain is transitioning between sleep and waking,” she said. “Our brain is really suggestible.

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“Lots of people are reading stressful things – prompting you to be stressed. What you put into your mind is super crucial.

“Going on your phone first thing messes with your dopamine. It creates a craving to keep you wanting to pick up your phone.”

She shared her own morning routine. “I wake up and listen to or say positive affirmations,” she said.

“I put sleep mode on. Try to not look at your phone for at least 20 to 30 minutes after waking up.”

Emily said the same applies at night and we should be switching off our TVs, laptops and phones within an hour before going to bed.


She added that the act of meditation can work wonders for the brain, especially in the morning.

Emily said: “Everyone says, ‘I can’t meditate’ but everyone can. It has great anti-ageing properties. It’s really magic for focus.

“It increases the birth of new brain cells in the hippocampus – which controls our learning and memory. It keeps your brain young.”

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