Forgetting what you had for lunch or misplacing your keys doesn’t mean you lose your marbles. We all forget things like the names of acquaintances we meet at the grocery store.
Memory problems to worry about involve those that interfere with normal daily life, which one in nine Americans ages 45 and older say they have experienced, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. Self-declaration analysis survey datathe researchers found that 11% of these adults complained of more frequent confusion or memory loss in the previous 12 months, and 51% of these people said that cognitive decline limited their ability to function.
Although concerns about your memory should be discussed with your doctor, there are some things you can do to support good brain health, memory, and cognitive functioning, and you can start by taking a fork.
“It’s becoming clear that a healthy diet can help create a healthy mind,” says a psychologist and dietician. Ellen AlbertsonRD, PhD. “A new field of study called nutritional psychiatry is evolving to help understand how gut health and diet can positively or negatively impact mood and cognitive functioning.
To find out how, we asked dietitians and other nutrition experts for tips on eating habits you can adopt to stay fit in body and mind. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss The Best Juice to Drink Every Day, According to Science.
Memory and cognitive functions can’t be preserved through a healthy diet alone, but foods like oily fish and leafy greens are packed with vitamins and nutrients that can help boost brain health, a psychiatrist says. Brian BrunoMD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine. “The omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon and cod are linked to lower beta-amyloid levels, helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease by slowing the formation of harmful brain clusters,” says the medical director of Mid-City TMS, a center focused on treating depression. “Leafy greens like broccoli, kale, and spinach are packed with brain-boosting nutrients like vitamin K, folate, and lutein, slowing cognitive decline and improving brain function,” says Dr. Bruno.
“The potential to boost mood and treat conditions such as anxiety, depression and Alzheimer’s disease by altering the makeup of the microbiome is enormous,” says psychologist and dietitian Albertson, author of Rock your quarantine. You do this by consuming prebiotics, indigestible carbohydrate compounds (mostly fiber), which pass through your digestive tract and support healthy bacteria in your gut.
“Prebiotics are found in a variety of plant foods, from fruits and vegetables to beans, seeds and grains,” says Albertson. “Good choices include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, apples, bananas, legumes, tomatoes, soybeans, flax seeds, chicory root, barley, and oats. .” Other foods that help create a healthier microbiome are fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha. Research shows that drinking green tea can also promote a well-balanced gut.
READ MORE: Surefire Ways to Protect Your Gut, Say Dietitians
One of the best eating habits to prevent memory loss is to follow the Mediterranean-style diet, an eating pattern that includes mostly plant-based foods such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits , nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and healthy fats. like olive oil. “The Mediterranean diet model is well documented and has been shown to help prevent cognitive decline and dementia,” says dietitian nutritionist Mary Wirtz, MS, RDNconsultant for the parenting site Mama likes it better.
The reason dietitians advocate plant-based diets for brain health is that they’re associated with lower blood sugar because high blood sugar damages the blood vessels that deliver nutrient-rich blood to the brain. But that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate animal foods.
Many animal foods are high in choline, a nutrient similar to B vitamins that benefits the brain. “Choline supports the hippocampus, that part of the brain that stores memories,” says a dietitian. Neighborhood Elizabeth, MS, RDco-author of The menopause diet. “Estrogen is needed for choline production and research suggests that dietary choline needs increase after menopause. The body produces choline, but not enough of it, so getting it from foods like eggs, lean meat, poultry, seafood and soy.”
A spinach omelet is a smart choice for a boosting breakfast because egg yolks and spinach (as well as kale and corn) are good sources of lutein. “Lutein is the predominant carotenoid in the hippocampus, and lutein levels are associated with cognitive function,” Ward explains.
Even if you have an excellent memory, you’ll want to eat magnesium-rich foods. The mineral is contained in every cell of the body and is essential for performing many important functions. And if you suffer from migraines, taking magnesium supplements or consuming more minerals through food can ease your headaches, doctors say. Magnesium is also important for brain health. “The mineral works not only in the brain for mood and cognitive support, but also outside the brain in blood vessels,” explains Trista Best, Dt.P.dietitian at Balance Once Supplements. “It acts as a vasodilator to increase blood flow to the brain.” Best recommends tofu, nuts, avocado, legumes, and dark chocolate as great magnesium-rich foods to add to your diet.
You won’t find a single food that is best to eat for optimal brain function. Instead, focus on eating a collection of whole, plant-based foods, which will hopefully crowd out processed foods from your diet. “The negative effects of processed foods are far-reaching and likely affect our mental health, inflammatory load, and cognitive health; all three are linked and appear to be harmed by long-term consumption of processed foods,” says Anthony KaveMD of MedicalSecretsMD.com. “The best foods for brain health tend to mirror the best foods for heart health,” says Dr. Kaveh, recommending foods like leafy greens, beans, olive oil, sweet potatoes, oranges and whole grains.
You are human; you will nibble. So, be sure to snack on the good stuff. “Nuts, especially walnuts, are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats that improve memory. “They contain omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid which cleanse the cerebral arteries and therefore , help promote brain health,” says Mark Davis, MDof the medical diagnostic laboratory Pacific Analysis. The enemies of your brain are fried foods, sugary products and red meat if you abuse them. “These foods trigger inflammation that damages blood vessels in your brain, increasing your risk of developing dementia and affecting cognitive abilities.” Overeating or binge eating is also detrimental to brain health, he says. “The diseases of overeating, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease and other brain diseases.”
The brain is mainly made up of water and good hydration contributes to its performance. “Adults should consume at least 64 ounces of fluid per day (more if active) to help prevent concentration problems, short-term memory issues, and irritability,” says Ward. Although water is the best solution, coffee, tea, milk, juice and other non-alcoholic beverages count towards your quota. Ward also points out that fruits and vegetables are high in water. “Include at least five servings a day to meet fluid needs,” she recommends.
For more ways to keep your brain young, avoid these eating habits that age your body a decade, dietitians say.