Memory loss is a normal consequence of aging, but it is possible to limit the extent of the problem by eating certain foods and avoiding others. Some nutritional supplements may also help ward off dementia symptoms.
According to Alzheimers.com, the brain needs healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, vitamins and minerals. Less healthy dietary choices create toxins, which can cause inflammation and plaques that damage cognitive function.
Best Brain Foods
Healthline recommends fish, though mercury contamination can offset the positive benefits. Many experts suggest wild-caught salmon because it has lower concentrations of the metal.
Fish provides large doses of the omega-3 fatty acids that strengthen brain cells, which aids in learning and memory retention. Researchers discovered that fish promotes the growth of gray matter, which contains nerve cells that serve memory and other cognitive skills.
The second item on Healthline’s list, coffee, is packed with caffeine and antioxidants. Caffeine makes people more alert, boosts the serotonin that spurs happy thoughts, and improves concentration. Experts believe the antioxidants fight Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Blueberries have been called a “super food” due to their multiple health benefits. They offer antioxidants that reduce oxidation and inflammation, which can prematurely age the brain and cause neurological diseases. Studies using animals have confirmed that blueberries improve memory.
The curcumin in a yellow spice called turmeric also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities that protect the brain. Studies indicate that curcumin may relieve some Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Vegetables and fruits that have been linked to sharper memory include broccoli, because of its antioxidants and Vitamin K; pumpkin seeds, which are packed with antioxidants that destroy free radicals; and oranges, bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes and strawberries, all of which are renowned for their brain-healthy Vitamin C.
Other foods and drinks that Healthline cites include dark chocolate, for its flavonoids, caffeine and antioxidants; nuts, which deliver healthy fats and antioxidants; eggs, an excellent source of the choline that regulates memory; and green tea, for its polyphenols and antioxidants.
Health.com advises large amounts of Vitamin E, which is found in vegetable oil salad dressings, seeds, nuts, peanut butter, whole grains, kale, collard greens, spinach, avocodos and sunflower seeds. The vitamin protects neurons and nerve cells that are critical for memory.
Many components of the Mediterranean diet, which primarily features vegetables and fruits, are good for the brain. The diet also features whole grains and red wine, both of which may lower the Alzheimer’s risk.
Alzheimers.com’s list of memory-enhancing foods echoes the above recommendations. The organization praises “leafy green vegetables, salmon and other cold-water fish, berries and dark-skinned fruits, coffee and chocolate, extra virgin olive oil and cold-pressed virgin coconut oil.”
Foods That Impair Memory
Among the dietary choices which damage memory function, according to Alzheimers.com, are “white foods” such as bread, pasta, cakes, sugar and rice; as well as processed meats and cheese. Beer and microwaved popcorn also may promote Alzheimer’s disease.
Healthline reported that “the seven worst foods for your brain” are sugar-laden beverages, refined carbohydrates like white flour, items loaded with transfats (also known as hydrogenated vegetable oil), “highly processed” and high-calorie foods, the artificial sweetener aspartame, alcohol and high-mercury fish.
Helpful Nutritional Supplements
WebMD points out that eating the right foods might not be enough. The website endorses the following supplements, which are available in pill or powder form: ginkgo biloba, fish oil, Chinese club moss, acetyl-l-carnitine, Vitamin E, and Asian or Panax ginseng.
It is important to keep in mind that food-based nutrients are more effective than those found in pills. Nothing replaces a well-balanced, healthy diet.