Forgot your grocery list? Can’t find your car keys? Can’t remember the way to your favorite movie theater? Having a poor memory can be frustrating, but you are not alone. A little forgetfulness is natural as we age and we all forget things occasionally, especially when life gets busy. But this doesn’t mean that we should take memory loss lightly. We don’t tend to pay much attention to these lapses when we’re young, but as we grow older, we all want to avoid memory loss.
As you age, you undergo physiological changes that lead to glitches in brain function. You take longer to learn and recall information. A strong memory is heavily dependent on the health and vitality of your brain. Whether you are senior looking to stay mentally sharp or a student studying for final exams, there’s a lot you can do to improve your memory. This article will break down what to take for memory loss.
The human brain has an amazing ability to change and adapt, even into old age, with the right stimulation. Neuroplasticity is the ability of your brain to form new neural pathways, change existing connections and adapt accordingly. This ability of the brain to reshape itself holds true when it comes to memory. Your lifestyle, diet, habits and daily activities play a significant role in the health of your brain.
Although there is no fool-proof way to prevent memory loss, certain foods might help you harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to improve memory at any age. Just like your body needs fuel, so does your brain. A diet based on whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins provide lots of health benefits. What you probably don’t know is that such a diet can also help improve memory.
There are several “brain boosters” currently on the market. Many of them lack compelling research to support their memory-enhancing claims while others have proprietary blends.
Consider the following natural supplements to sharpen your memory and boost your mental performance:
Research has proven that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for brain health. Oily fish like salmon, tuna, halibut, mackerel, trout, herring, albacore and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Many studies have shown that consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids improves memory, especially in older people. If you are not a fan of seafood like me, don’t worry. There are non-fish sources of omega-3s such as winter squash, ground flaxseed, broccoli, canola, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, walnuts, seaweed, kidney and pinto beans.
Turmeric root, a bright-orange colored spice, has a compound called curcumin in high concentrations. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant in a category of compounds called polyphenols that exerts powerful anti-inflammatory effects in the body. Studies show that curcumin minimizes inflammation and oxidative damage in the brain. It also reduces the number of amyloid plaques that accumulate in neurons and cause tissue and cell death, leading to memory loss. For best results, add curcumin to food rather than taking it as a supplement.
Besides being delicious, cocoa has a powerful dose of antioxidants called flavonoids. Many research studies have shown that flavonoids are beneficial to the brain. Flavonoids may help to stimulate the growth of neurons and blood vessels and enhance blood flow in parts of the brain that deal with memory. A recent study of 30 people showed that those who took dark chocolate with 720 mg of cocoa flavonoids displayed better memory than the other who consumed white chocolate with no cocoa flavonoids.
It is vital to keep your alcohol consumption in check, as too much alcohol can kill brain cells. When taken in moderation, say a glass of wine a day, alcohol may actually improve cognition and memory. The best option is red wine because it is rich in a flavonoid called resveratrol responsible for boosting blood flow in the brain. Resveratrol can prevent the deterioration of the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory. You can also try cranberry juice, grape juice, fresh berries and peanuts. All the mentioned options are resveratrol-packed.
America’s favorite stimulant, caffeine, is found in coffee, tea and dark chocolate. Caffeine works by stimulating the brain and the central nervous system. It makes you feel alert, energized and improves your memory. Studies have shown that caffeine also improves your reaction time and general brain function. You should, however, avoid taking too much caffeine as it can result in nausea, anxiety and trouble sleeping.
For a while now, scientists have been researching the relationship between memory loss and low levels of B-12. Having enough B-12 in your diet has been proven to improve memory and slow cognitive decline in folks with early Alzheimer’s. The results are much better when B-12 is taken together with omega-3 fatty acids. Foods rich in B-12 include animals products like fish and poultry. This means that vegans and vegetarians might be low in B-12.
Adequate amounts of Vitamin D can protect your brain from cognitive decline. Statistically, over 50 percent of people in the United States are deficient in Vitamin D. This common vitamin D deficiency is caused by a number of reasons, including lack of exposure to the sun. Your body requires sunshine to produce vitamin D. As you age, the ability to synthesize and absorb vitamin D is reduced. Folks with extremely low levels of vitamin D have memory loss problems.
There is evidence to suggest that Vitamin E is essential in improving the memory of older people. A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that high amounts of Vitamin E can help folks with Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects your body from free radicals. It is found in vegetables such as bell peppers and spinach, seeds, nuts, and dark-colored fruits such as avocados, blueberries and blackberries.
Ginkgo Biloba is a herbal supplement derived from the Ginkgo Biloba tree that tends to improve blood flow in small vessels, and in the process ward off dementia. The herb has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. The supplement also improves brain functions like focus, thinking skills and short-term memory.
Usually used with Gingko Biloba, Ginseng also helps with memory loss. Several studies have been made on this memory-protecting supplement, with some not showing much promise.
Your body produces acetyl-L-carnitine naturally to help turn fat into energy. This amino acid has shown some promising brain-building effects and has been proven to help Alzheimer’s patients with memory problems. Acetyl-L-carnitine supplements will improve your memory, make you feel alert and slow down age-related memory loss.
Also called Chinese club moss, this natural medicine will help you with memory issues. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that your brain makes to help learn and remember. Huperzine A will help boost acetylcholine.
Green tea has polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that give the brain protection against free radicals that can damage it. Regular consumption of green tea will also enhance mental and memory awareness, and slow down brain aging.
PRO TIP: Diets high in saturated fat increase your risk of dementia and affects concentration and memory. Limit calories and saturated fat from sources such as whole milk, cheese, cream, red meat, ice cream and butter.
A balanced, healthy diet might be as good for the brain as it is for your body. Finding new ways to slow down memory loss can lead to amazing results. As you can see, there are many fun and delicious ways to boost your brain health and improve your memory. Don’t take any of the above supplements without consulting your health care provider.