Top 12 Memory Boosting Foods
How can we use diet to improve our memory? What foods can we eat and how much should we be eating?
Diet plays two important roles in improving memory (and other cognitive) functions. The first role diet should play is in preventing damage caused by oxidative stress. All cells in our body and brain produce energy in order to function. A by product of this energy production are free radicals. Amongst other things free radicals damage cell membranes and impair our brains ability to create new cells. In response to this our bodies produce anti-oxidants which counteract the effects of free radicals. The amount of free radicals your body produces is determined by your genes and also your diet. To this end your diet should include a healthy amount of anti oxidants. We'll list foods high in antioxidants in a moment but as a general rule if it's a plant based food you're onto a good thing. If it's high in saturated fats then you're onto a bad thing. The second role diet plays is in providing our bodies and brains with a stable supply of energy.
- Blue Berries
- Soya Beans
- Green Tea
- Red Beans
- Red Wine
- Contains numerous compounds which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Test participants given wild blueberry juice for 12 weeks demonstrated improved memory, lower blood sugar levels and mood improvements.
- Amongst the most antioxidant rich foods available. Also contains isoflavone phytoestrogens which research has shown to be effective at improving both short and long term memory.
- We've all heard about the benefits of Omega 3's. Omega 3 fats consist of 3 fatty acids, EPA, DHA and ALA but it's the DHA's which provide the biggest boost to memory function by aiding neural development in the hippocampus, the part of our brain responsible for memory.
- Contains green tea Catechins which are a natural antioxidant. The research suggests green tea may be able to slow the age related effects of memory loss. There are no known side effects and a myriad of other well research benefits.
- Low in calories, high in fibre and contains luteolin, a phytochemical which research has shown to improve spatial working memory. Artichokes like all foods on this list are very rich in antioxidants.
- Packing more antioxidants than blueberries, a rich source of fibre and protein, red beans also contain thiamine. The research suggests that thiamine deficiency may be a cause of memory loss.
- Contains Alpha-lactalbumin a protein which research has shown improves visual memory processing. Alternatively go directly for whey protein powder which has a far higher concentration of Alpha-lactalbumin.
- Dense in many vital nutrients Spinach is a great antioxidant and source of iron. Research has indicated an iron deficiency may cause auditory recognition memory loss.
- An abundant source of beta-carotene which our bodies turn into Vitamin A. The research indicates that beta-carotene may be able to slow down age related memory loss.
- Consumed in moderation red wine contains a powerful antioxidant and anti inflammatory called resveratrol which studies have indicated can prevent memory loss. A double blind study conducted by the University of Florida assigned one group of elderly participants 1000mg/d for 3 months. The group demonstrated very promising results with improvements to both cognitive processing speeds and memory recall accuracy.
- A rich source of folic acid also known as Vitamin B9. Long heralded as an important supplement for pregnancy and heart health the research also indicates it may slow the effects of age related memory loss.
Provides quercetin a flavonoid which research shows provides protection against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Beyond the memory protecting role UCLA research has indicates quercetin lowers the risk of cancer and tumours.
Avoid Overeating - Restricting Calories Boosts Memory
If you've been gaining body fat over the past few years you're most likely aware of your increased risk of obesity related diseases. Did you know that consuming excess calories also damages the memory and learning parts of our brains?
You may not notice damage until the later stages in life as it appears that's when the effects are more pronounced according to research conducted at the The Institute for Pharmacological Research in Italy. It appears that reducing calories
may suppress the amount of oxidative stress occurring in our brains which is what causes issues for memory and learning as we age.
Long term calorie restriction may not sound entirely pleasant but it's not necessarily a difficult task to accomplish when we develop an awareness of calorie density, that is how much energy is in food. Try counting calories for 2 weeks, you'll gain an understanding of which foods you can eat in larger portions and which should be consumed in smaller servings.