Who thinks about brain health while munching on a bag of Lays? Well, you should.
Human brain is, no doubt, the most amazing organ of our body. The way we think, act, feel, and experience the world totally depends on it. Even though it just weighs two percent of the body, it consumes around 25% of the total energy that our body requires to run every day. At the end of the day, where does this energy come from? You know the answer. It’s Food.
Brain health and food go hand in hand. The connection is harder to get because we usually don’t equate to nutrition and memory. When it comes to cognitive fitness, the payoff of eating right is huge. It can improve your specific mental skills such as memory and concentration.
You can read also read our article on how to improve memory that goes in-depth with various tips and strategies!
The Connection Between Diet and Memory
The brain is one of the most easily affected organs by bad eating habits. The way the structure of the brain is formed requires proper food to function. According to the study conducted at Brigham and Women’s hospital, people who consumed food containing a high amount of saturated fats such as red meat and butter didn’t perform well in thinking and memory tests.
Experts are unable to find the exact reason behind the connection between poor memory and a diet containing high saturated and trans fats. However, you can always blame the genes for the way you are. This shoots an arrow towards apo-lipoprotein E (APOE). This gene is responsible for transporting cholesterol across the body. This way, it controls the amount of cholesterol present in your blood. So how does that effects memory? Well, let’s connect the dots for you.
Do you know that about 65% of individuals with Alzheimer-associated dementia have a genetic variant of APOE? That is APOE e4. Bingo.
Researchers are still struggling to find the connection between dementia ad e4. To date, a sticky protein clump has been highlighted in scientific studies, which is found in the brain cells of people with this genetic variation. These deposits are known as beta-amyloid plaques. These molecules are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s. It deposits inside the brain cells resulting in its destruction.
This paints a more clear picture. These cholesterol plaques start building up inside the blood vessels of the brain with the progression of the disease, and this is how small vessels start narrowing. Later on, the brain cells become deprived of blood supply and oxygen, and this results in silent stroke due to complete blocks. The final outcome is compromised thinking and memory.
Foods for Brain Health
You can stop your brain from aging and fight memory loss by eating a healthy diet. In fact, if you google ‘foods that prevent memory loss, you will find specific diets for it. Have you heard MIND for the brain? Well, that’s an abbreviation for ‘Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.’ This combination diet of foods that fight memory loss is the result of the Mediterranean diet and DASH. DASH is the dietary approach recommended to control hypertension. Surprisingly, such religious dietary practices have shown to reduce Alzheimer's disease.
According to research conducted by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL, the use of MIND lowered the risk of Alzheimer's disease by one-third even if the person follows it moderately. If someone follows it religiously, then it is reduced by half at least. People with the highest score in this memory test were found to have 7.5 years slower cognitive decline rate. Their only secret was brain-healthy foods.
Ready to find out the components of MIND? Well, that your food for thought. Ha-ha. Here is the list of foods that fight memory loss:
Olive oil is rich in healthy fats. It improves blood circulation by protecting vessels and reduces the risk of silent strokes resulting from cholesterol plaques which damage memory. This is how consuming olive oil is linked with better brain function. All you need to do is replace your regular cooking oil with it.
Green leafy vegetables are the best food when it comes to brain-healthy food. Kale, spinach, and collard green are known as the richest sources of vitamin E, folate, flavonoids, and carotenoids. The list doesn’t end yet.Variety of Vegetables to Help Improve Memory
Nature has blessed us with a range of vegetables to add to our daily diet. You can try:
- bell peppers
All of them contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which protect brain cells from damage. The most important highlight is vitamin K. It is an essential component of sphingolipids which is vital for brain function.
Broccoli is one of the most nutritious food items, which provides the daily recommended amount of vitamin K in 1 cup serving. Now you know what you have to add to your next mixed salad serving.
For use recommendations, take a look at a complete list of vitamins for brain health & to improve memory.
On the top of the list is oranges which contain a power-packed supply of vitamin C for your daily needs. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties. It fights free radicals, repairs tissues, and also produce certain neurotransmitters. Then comes kiwi, strawberries, and guava that are equally loaded with vitamin C.Variety of Fruits to Help Fight Memory Loss
Fruits are good for overall body health, but intake of the ones containing a higher percentage of flavonoids shows improvement in cognitive functions. We are particularly pointing towards berries, specifically blueberries and strawberries to be named. Strawberries don’t only contain vitamin C but flavonoids as well.
On the other hand, the deep color of blueberries indicates that the fruit is rich in anthocyanin, which is also anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It also improves brain cell communication. It helps the body to fight oxidative stress saving the brain from neurodegenerative disease and aging.
Add berries to your cereal or blend them into a smoothie to prevent short-term memory loss.
Beans, lentils, and soybeans are good for your brain. These food products contain folic acid in high amounts, which is important for your verbal and memory performance. It is recommended to have three or more servings to improve your cognitive function each week.
Nuts contain antioxidants, healthy fats, and vitamin E, which stops free radicals from damaging the cell membrane. Apart from that, omega-3 fatty acids found in them are responsible for sharper memory in people who consume nuts regularly. For a boost, you can add walnuts to your diet.
Whole grains are a rich source of glucose, stable energy flow, and vitamin E. In addition to that, it also provides antioxidants, vitamin B, fiber, healthy fats, phytochemicals, and minerals. All you need is three servings of whole grains every day to fight memory loss.
Coming to the food that fights memory loss, research has identified a number of foods brain-healthy foods. One thing that comes is found new about this subject is that food which is good for the heart might also be good for the brain. Scroll above once again and read the section explaining the role of blood vessels in brain health. A food that protects the heart, in turn, protects blood vessels, so it can be beneficial to prevent memory loss.
If you pay attention to this cycle indirectly, then you will be able to appreciate that heart-healthy foods reduce the risk of diseases like hypertension, obesity, and diabetes, which results in inflammation, reduced oxygen, reduced nutrition, and cell destruction contributing to memory loss.
Memory Enhancing Food Choices
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain caffeine, antioxidants, and flavonoids. Experts agree that these compounds are important for slowing down mental decline and enhancing memory. It is proven that if a person who eats dark chocolate daily perform better in memory test and mental task. But keep in mind that we are not talking about your favorite Hershey’s but dark chocolate.
Fish contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain is made up of 60% of fats, out of which most is omega 3. This is how eating fish slows down mental decline, depression, and memory problems. According to research, eating fish regularly increases gray matter and improves decision-making, memory, and emotional intelligence. One thing to keep in mind is that we are talking about boiled and fresh fish here, not batter-dipped fish or fried fish.
Turmeric, a deep yellow spice, is a component of curry powder. Its active component is Curcumin, which has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and clear up amyloid plaques to enhance memory. It also mediates the release of dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are mood boosters and ease depression. It also increases brain-derived neurotrophic factors, which nourishes brain cells and makes them grow.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper. All these elements are crucial for nerve signaling, learning, and memory. It improves brain fog, reduces the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, depression, and Parkinson’s disease with epilepsy and migraine. Add a small amount to your lunch, and you with be able to appreciate the benefits in some time.
Green tea contains caffeine and L-theanine. These compounds boost brain function by enhancing the activity of GABA (neurotransmitter). The overall effect of such compounds helps you to relax and improves concentration and memory.
What Foods to Avoid to Prevent Memory Loss?
The most obnoxious claim that we have come across is to eat fats in large quantities to improve brain function. To support this claim, people rely on the fact that the brain is composed of fats. That’s absurd because cholesterol plaques are found to be notorious for brain health.
Similarly, there is a list of food products that you need to avoid for the brain’s sake. Here are some of them:
- Stick margarine
- Fast food
- Red meat
At the end of the day, it’s all about working on your definition of health. It’s not just about a muscular body or glowing skin. Your health supports your mind and brain function. The good news for you is that you have a list of foods that you can add to your diet right away and can help you to prevent memory loss from happening. So, start making the essential changes in your diet today and be sure to incorporate these foods that fight memory loss.