Foods that boost memory

There's no magic pill that will protect your memory.

OddNaari OddNaari Feb 12, 2013

Theres no magic pill that will protect your memory. Mental cognition is a result of cellular health and communication between those cells. A nutritious diet, exercise, sleep and various aspects of the environment influence the brains functioning. When it comes to food, certain nutrients are essential and ensuring adequate intake has shown to improve brain function and protect against ageassociated cognitive decline. Heres a break up of what you need.

Anti-oxidants and flavonoids:

Anti-oxidants are powerful disease fighters, including Vitamin A, C and E found in natural foods like eggs, carrots, broccoli, fish, nuts, green, leafy vegetables and fruits. These can reduce the cell damage in the brain. Flavonoids are chemical compounds that give fruits and leafy greens their colour. Two important ones that support memory function are anthocyanins and quercetin, which may help protect against the breakdown of brain cells. Red grapes, onions, apples, green and black tea, and berries are good sources of these flavonoids. Two to three cups of green tea a day, four to five servings of fruits a day and two cubes (2 to 3 g) of dark chocolate have proven benefits.

Healthy Fats:

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, mustard oil, mustard seeds, chia seeds, black gram, fenugreek, kidney beans, soyabeans, black-eyed beans, walnuts, pearl millet and flaxseeds are good for the brain. Flaxseeds are among the richest plant source of Omega-3s. A Tbsp or two of flaxseeds a day and one to two walnuts a day can help meet your daily requirement. You can have a serving of leafy greens (100 g) every day or fish (150 g), two or three times a week.

The B Family:

Vitamin B1 keeps the nervous system healthy and is used in the biosynthesis of a number of cell constituents, including certain neurotransmitters. It aids memory and learning. Good sources of B1 include wheat germ, wholegrains, eggs, milk, sweet potatoes, soya, legumes and nuts. Vitamin B12 is needed for the functioning of the central nervous system. It improves concentration, memory, balance and relieves irritability. Eggs, lean meat, lowfat dairy and spirulina (blue green algae) are good sources of this vitamin. Folic acid is essential for the breakdown of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to fatty deposits in arteries and cognitive decline. Leafy greens (spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens), broccoli, lentils and wheat germ are good sources. n Lecithin: This is a primary component of all cell membranes and helps insulate nerves. It may help to improve short-term memory and prevent memory loss. Good sources of lecithin are egg yolk, soyabeans, cauliflower, beans, legumes, grains and wheatgerm. n Curcumin: Studies show that this compound, found in turmeric, deters cognitive decay and may reduce the risk of Alzheimers disease. Although Indian cuisine already includes turmeric, a teaspoon a day is an adequate dose. n Iron: Iron deficiency is associated with lower performance while a corrective treatment normalises cognitive function. Red meat, fish, poultry, lentils and beans are good sources of iron. Choose animal proteins over plant ones; they have more bio-available iron. n Choline: Dietary choline found in egg yolks, soya, peanuts, liver and lettuce is linked to better cognition. Studies have also shown that choline is linked to a reduction in seizure-induced memory impairment.

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A high-fat, highsugar diet is found to impair memory. Studies show that sat fats promote cognitive decline by leading to the formation of free radicals that can hamper the functioning of neurotransmitters. So, limit your intake of butter, lard, ghee, palm kernel oil, cottonseed oil, cream and cheese. Also, avoid fad diets and fasting as these can lead to hidden nutritional deficiencies, hampering brain function and increase production of free radicals.

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