7 Foods a Neurosurgeon Never Eats—and Recommends You Avoid, Too

A board-certified neurosurgeon shares the foods he tries to stay away from for better brain health. By Alexa Mellardo

Published on October 8, 2023 | 7:00 AM

The role nutrition plays for our brain is important to understand when it comes to our well-being. Dr. Brett Osborn says certain types of foods that can either help or hurt cognitive function, and that the key to brain health is participating in healthy habits."There are foods—or food groups—that should be avoided whenever possible as they do nasty things to our biochemistry and, by virtue, accelerate cell damage and thereby the aging process.”
"And remember, what is good for the body is similarly good for the brain," says Dr. Osborn.Osborn spoke with Eat This, Not That! to offer his insights on which foods he avoids, helping to promote healthy brain function.

1. Sugar-Packed Foods, Like Cookies and Ice Cream

Foods like cookies, ice cream, pastries, doughnuts and other sugar-filled treats do not contain many nutrients. Excessive consumption of sugary foods and drinks can lead to high blood sugar, resulting in cognitive impairment.

2. Trans Fats, Like Deep-Fried Foods

Foods high in trans-fat, processed snacks and certain margarines can cause inflammation and can increase your risk of cognitive decline. Dr. Osborn explains how these types of foods can also increase your risk of age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Highly Processed Foods

Osborn advised those to be cautious when consuming highly processed snacks containing artificial additives and preservatives, which can contribute to cognitive impairment.


4. Excessive Alcohol

Heavy alcohol consumption can contribute to alcohol related-brain damage and impairment over time. Excessive drinking can also lead to chronically impaired coordination, seizures and can even be lethal from complications related to alcohol withdrawal.

5. High-Sodium, Like Cold Cuts

High-sodium diets can contribute to high blood pressure, resulting in negative effects for the brain and causing micro tears in the walls of blood vessels

6. Artificial Sweeteners

Osborn stated some studies suggest artificial sweeteners may have adverse effects on the brain and metabolism, yet more research is needed to confirm. He suggested to read food labels to your best ability and use other alternatives such as stevia or monk fruit.

7. Excessive Caffeine

Moderate caffeine consumption does have its brain benefits, yet excessive caffeine intake can lead to anxiety, sleep disruptions and brain impairment.

This article originally appeared in Eat This, Not That! and was written by Alexa Mellardo