According to the Alzheimer’s Society, “nearly 40% of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss, or age-associated memory impairment, which is considered a part of the normal aging process.” Nearly 5 million people worldwide live with dementia, a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions, which can interfere with daily activities. Whether you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a memory disorder, or are experiencing normal age-related memory loss, research shows that making small changes to your diet can help you increase and maintain cognitive health.
Our bodies are exposed to free radicals that can come from both internal and external sources. Certain factors, like poor diet, long-term stress, and environmental influences such as pollution, can increase the risk of developing free radicals, which can impact our cognitive function. However, nutrients from our diet can help protect our brains from free radicals and heal the damage that occurs as a result. Certain nutrients, such as antioxidants, help protect our bodies from free radicals while also promoting the electric signaling between our nerve cells, which allows our brains to communicate with our bodies. Other nutrients found in our diet, like vitamins B12, B6, and B9 are critical for brain function.
Foods that Boost Memory
While family history and genetics play a role in developing age-related memory loss and memory disorders, we can use our diets to help reduce our risk of disease and promote overall wellness. Here are some foods that contain memory-boosting benefits that can be easily added into our diets:
Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, magnesium, copper and iron, which are all important nutrients for optimal brain health. Zinc plays an important role in nerve signaling, which is crucial for overall cognitive function. Low levels of zinc have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Magnesium is important for learning and memory, while low iron levels can lead to brain fog.
Fish, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines, contain omega 3 fatty acids, which is known to promote brain health. Low levels of omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. In addition to promoting overall cognitive function, omega 3 fatty acids can also help relieve depression symptoms.
Blueberries, along with other deeply colored berries, contain numerous health benefits, especially when it comes to brain health. Blueberries contain antioxidants which help relieve oxidative stress and inflammation, and also reduce the risk of brain aging. Some of the antioxidants found in blueberries are linked to improved communication between brain cells. Antioxidants have also been found to improve or delay short-term memory loss.
The antioxidants and caffeine contained in coffee can actually help your brain work better. While the caffeine in coffee can help promote sharpened concentration for short periods of time, some studies have suggested that drinking coffee long-term is linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Broccoli is packed with antioxidants and vitamin K, which has been shown to improve memory function and reduce inflammation.
While eggs might not come to mind when thinking of brain foods, they do contain some brain-boosting properties. Choline helps regulate mood and memory while vitamins B6, B12, and folate can help relieve the symptoms of depression.
Tips for Improving Brain Health
In addition to making small changes to your diet, adding other lifestyle changes can have a big impact. Quality sleep, proper hydration, exercise, and reducing stress are all factors in brain health and overall wellness.