By Yolanda Bertaud
Have trouble remembering lately? Are you forgetful or experiencing signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s? What about your attention span? Here are some great foods that help improve your brain memory function…
1. Leafy greens. Help’s protect you from heart disease, diabetes, help strength memory, and perhaps even cancer. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, K, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.
Kale, Collards, Turnip greens, Swiss chard, Spinach, Mustard greens, Broccoli, Green & Red Romaine Lettuce, Cabbage, Iceburg Lettuce, Dandelion greens, etc.
2. Cruciferous vegetables. Nutrients in cruciferous vegetable: Vitamin A, C, Beta-carotene, dietary fiber – helps reduce high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Indole-3-carbinol – an antioxidant that occurs naturally in cruciferous vegetables and it fights against free radicals and protects your cells against damage. Isothiocyanates is a sulfur compound that stops the division and growth of cancer cells. Phytonutrients and Cancer-fighting compounds.
- Chinese Cabbage
- Bok choy
- Brussel sprouts
- Collard greens
- Garden cress
- Land cress
- White mustard seeds
- Brown mustard seeds
- Black mustard seeds
3. Beans and legumes: Contain carbohydrates and they are high in folate, phosphorus, potassium, magensium, iron, zinc, calcium, and selenium. Low in sugar and high in protein! They also contain choline, a B vitamin that boosts acetylcholine – a neuro transmitter critical for brain function.
- Alfalfa (a legume)
- Anasazi Beans
- Azuki Beans
- Bean Sprouts
- Beans, Snap
- Black Beans (Black Turtle)
- Black-Eyed Peas
- Broad Beans
- Calypso (Yin Yang) Beans
- Cannellini Beans
- Copper Beans
- Fava Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
- Green Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Lentils (All)
- Lima Beans
- Mung Beans
- Navy Beans
- Northern Beans
- Pea Pods
- Peanuts (a legume)
- Peas, Green
- Pinto Beans
- Red Beans
- Soy Beans
- Soy Beans, Black
- Soy Beans, Red
- Speckled Cranberry Beans
- Tamarind Beans
- Velvet beans
- Wax Beans
- White Beans
4. Whole grains: Eating whole grains in “conservative amounts”, they have important sources of nutrients, including dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate, play a key role in metabolism), minerals (iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium). Avoid all refined & enriched grains!
Amaranth, brown rice, wild rice, forbidden rice, and other heirloom rice, buckwheat, bulgur, rye, barley, organic corn, oats, organic whole-wheat. Heirloom whole grains as kamut, spelt, quinoa, amaranth.
5. Berries, Apples and cherries: Some fruits contain powerful antioxidants called phytonutrients, which help protect your body against cancer-causing free radicals and may slow down some of the effects of aging. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that a diet high in fruit can help prevent many of the symptoms of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other deteriorating conditions of the brain.
Grape seed (extract). Grape seed extract is rich in antioxidants that eliminate dangerous free-radicals in our body and brain.
Other antioxidant-rich fruits are blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, apples, cherries, acai palm fruit, and grapes. These help prevent brain cell deterioration and memory loss while also improving our motor coordination and balance.
6. Vegetables: These vegetables contain vitamin A, folate and iron that help with cognition, you can get most of these nutrients by juicing/lightly steamed.
- Mushrooms have been used as a food & medicine in China for thousands of years include reishi, maitake, agaricus, shiitake and cordyceps. There are more, but these are the most potent and have the most benefit for health & for boosting your memory. Mushrooms are an excellent source of potassium, rich source of riboflavin, niacin, and selenium.
- Squash is high in PUFA (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids), which have been found to heighten memory function, according to the April 2010 Journal of Nutrition. PUFAs enhance working memory and improve nonverbal reasoning, brain function and vocabulary; you’ll also find this in both winter and summer squash.
- Asparagus – In a recent study, researchers evaluated a group of 2200 men and women age 65 and older. They discovered that a higher level of folate and a lower level of homocysteine were associated with better memory functions.Simply by eating one-half cup of asparagus, you can add an abundance of nutritional benefits to your diet, including 190 micrograms of memory-supporting folate (700 micrograms daily are ideal). Now that’s a delicious “no-brainer”!
- Tomatoes have lycopene, which helps protect against free radicals that damage cells in the brain, potentially leading to Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Tomatoes also a good fat burner, which means they help you lose weight.
- Carrots are a source of vitamin B, vitamin C, and beta carotene, which slows the signs of aging and were associated with increased memory and brain function.
- Beets – Research indicates that the nitrates in beet juice (which convert to nitrites and nitric oxide in the body) open up blood vessels. Even better, the nitrite gets the oxygen and blood to the exact place in the brain where you need them most. That’s good news, because reduced blood flow to certain brain zones is linked to memory glitches, slower thinking, and dementia. Beets are also an excellent source of hearth-healthy folate and a very good source of the antioxidants manganese and vitamin C as well as heart-healthy potassium. Beets are also a good source of digestive-supportive dietary fiber, free radical scavenging copper, bone-healthy magnesium, and energy-producing iron and phosphorus.
- Sweet potatoes are very nourishing for the brain. They are rich in carbohydrates, vitamins B6 and antioxidant, which not only cleanse the blood, but also help to improve brain power significantly.
7. Omega-3: atty acids compose a large part of the brain material. Consuming omega-3 fatty acids directly aids the brain by increasing brain activity and promoting correct functioning. This results in better memory and concentration skills. Fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, anchovies and herring are very good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, so include fish in your diet at least twice a week to improve your memory and concentration powers.
Flax seeds and olive oil are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids or DHA which help restore memory loss and improve brain functioning and IQ, as the Omega-3 creates new communication hubs in the neurons of our brain. Young children and pregnant or lactating mothers are required most to include Omega-3 or DHA rich foods in their diet.
8. Seeds & Nuts: are good sources of vitamin E, higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older. Add an ounce a day of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, and unhydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini. Raw and unsalted is best.
9. Dark Chocolate: is Good for Your Brain – increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function. Dark chocolate also helps reduce your risk of stroke.
Dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.
Dark chocolate contains some of the following vitamins and minerals in high concentrations:
The copper and potassium in dark chocolate help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular ailments. The iron in chocolate protects against iron deficiency anemia, and the magnesium in chocolate helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Rosemary – Eating or even smelling the scent of rosemary has been said to have positive effects on your memory. It helps increase the blood flow to your brain, allowing sufficient oxygen for higher levels of concentration. Compounds found in rosemary have also been said to reduce the breakdown of acetylcholine, which is a chemical compound that acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. A reduced level of acetylcholine has been associated with a decline in memory, making rosemary an excellent food and stimulant to protect one’s memory.
- Cinnamon – Antioxidants are the cornerstone of the memory healing diet. They help protect your brain from cognitive decline and memory loss due to chronic inflammation in the body. Cinnamon, cloves and allspice have more antioxidants than blueberries, making them an important addition to your diet. A sprinkling of cinnamon in your decaf, smoothie or on top of your oatmeal at breakfast can help protect your brain from memory loss and cognitive decline.
- Sage – This is my favorite! I have a cup of sage tea per day… Experts believe that sage contains active ingredients that boost the chemicals that trigger transmission of messages within the brain. When scientists from the Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria tested 44 people by having them take either sage or a placebo, results showed that those given sage performed better in a word recall test. They also suggest potential benefits of sage for patients living with Alzheimer’s. Experiments have shown sage boosting the same brain chemicals that drop when one is afflicted by Alzheimer’s.
- Gotu Kola – Also referred to as Indian Pennywort, gotu kola is an amazing herb that promises great results in enhancing the memory and improving brain functions. Generally, this powerful herb helps in improving one’s mental function. In traditional Chinese and ayurvedic medicine, gotu kola is used in rejuvenating the mind and the body and is considered an “anti-aging” herb. According to studies, gotu kola contains certain substances that increase brain power and improves blood circulation to the brain which results to better memory, concentration, intelligence, and attention span.
- Gingko Biloba – There is a reason why gingko biloba supplements are one of the most popular herbal medications in Europe and America. Among its many therapeutic benefits, gingko biloba’s power to enhance memory stands out. In particular, scientific studies discovered gingko’s potency to aid memory and thinking of those with Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia by protecting nerve cells damaged by these disorders to improve learning, daily activities, social behaviour and reduce feelings of depression. Laboratory tests further show gingko biloba’s value in improving blood circulation along the central nervous system to promote overall brain development and functioning. The mechanism behind gingko leaves is due to the presence of two types of chemicals, flavonoids and terpenoids, which contain antioxidants to combat free radicals that contribute to health disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Studies confirming gingko’s effectiveness to enhance memory in older adults continue to be promising.
- Ginseng – Lab trials have demonstrated how ginseng appears effective for memory impairment. Among mice given dosages of ginseng extracts, remarkable improvements in water maze tasks were exhibited and ginseng was shown to activate neurotransmitter activities that promote memory enhancement.
11. Sprouts are rich in vitamin A, Vitamin B complex, vitamin C, fiber and an excellent source of enzymes. Sprouts are also high in iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, manganese and calcium. These can be very helpful for the body and can improve many health complications. Making them excellent brain food! Read more in Sprouting The Seeds Of Health
Avoid processed foods, sugars, caffeine, alcohol, toxic foods and water. Get ample amount of rest and avoid stress/work it off by exercising & meditation.