July 11, 2013

Using Food to Prevent Memory Loss and Keep your Souvenirs

Using Food to Keep Hold of your Memory
A few decades ago, we pretty much had no idea how human memory worked or how problems related to it arose. However, thanks to some of the brightest minds of the twentieth century, we have been able to make a very accurate map of the brain, and subsequently, we learned a great deal about how it organizes and controls our memories.

More importantly, we learned about the causes of memory loss and how to minimize the chances of the problem ever affecting you. And we’re not talking about regular memory loss, such as forgetting names or birthday dates… we are talking about full-blown memory loss, such as forgetting where you live or your family members.

The Causes of Memory Loss

Before looking into how we are to prevent it, we must first examine the causes of memory loss and attack the problem at its core. To begin with, with age the nerve tissue in the brain tends to shrink, and in turn this leads to a restricted blood flow to the brain tissue, contributing to the onset of memory loss. A diminished production of certain chemicals in the brain has also been noted to be an important factor.

Apart from that, there are several causes which can contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, the number one enemy of memory. Those include head injuries, genetic predisposition and cardiovascular disease.

Fighting Memory Loss with Food

As we can see from the list of causes, one of the things we need to do in order to prevent memory loss is to slow down the degeneration of the brain. We can do that with two methods: increasing the blood flow to it and making sure it receives the proper nutrients. The former one can be done with a regular exercising regime, and the latter one can be easily accomplished by eating the right foods (a table with foods and nutrients is available at the end of the article).

First off, you will want to get complex carbohydrates and some B vitamins into your system as they ensure the health of your neurotransmitters, effectively preventing them from shrinking and even contributing to their multiplication. How do we know these are effective?

Well, a study was performed on elderly people with memory loss, and it was observed that after consuming 50g of potatoes or barley (both of them complex carbohydrates) on a daily basis their memories improved significantly. Where do the B vitamins come in? Their role is to help process the food you eat and turn into the afore-mentioned complex carbohydrates. Also, certain studies have shown that low levels of vitamins B6, B12 and folate are associated with Alzheimer’s.

Certain researchers also hold the belief that iron, the mineral, can play an important role in the maintenance of neurotransmitter activity; low levels of it have been associated with memory loss. A study on non-anemic adolescent girls showed that low iron levels cause short-term memory loss and concentration impairment. You can get plenty of iron from lean meats, fish and poultry.

A recent discovery points to the possibility of blueberries being powerful anti-memory loss tools. More precisely, the large number of flavonoids found within have antioxidant effects, which in turn promotes blood circulation to the brain and even defends against free radicals (they can accumulate and worsen the function of your memory cells). Beta-carotene, isoflavones and vitamins E and C are known to have similar effects as flavonoids.

Foods that Help in the Fight against Memory Loss
Foods Nutrient Health Benefits
whole grains
complex carbohydrates Through glucose metabolism complex carbohydrates may elevate production of neurotransmotters or influence proteins in the digestive tract, which signals brain cells and enhance memory
flavonoids Experimental research suggests that flavonoids in blueberries (and possibly strawberries) may slow age related decline in mental function, including neuron deterioration
soy products isoflavones According to preliminary evidence, soy isoflavones may protect against Alzheimer's by hindering protein changes that contribute to the decease
olive oil
monounsaturated fat Scientists hypothesize that cardioprotective nutrients such us monounsaturated fat may preserve memory by maintaining flow to the brain
avocados seeds vitamin E This powerful antioxidant is under review for its potential to enhance memory and slow the progression of Alzheimer's decease

Finally, you should avoid foods containing trans fatty acids and saturated fats, rather replacing them with monounsaturated fat instead. It was shown that a diet rich in the last type of fat mentioned actually helps to protect and preserve the brain, especially its neural functions, not to mention that it makes your arteries much less likely to be clogged one day. Soluble fibers can also help you to maintain your vessels unclogged.

In the end, you must keep in mind that for most of us, memory loss to some degree is inevitable. We cannot outright stop it, but by doing the right things we can slow it down to a crawl, and hopefully never have to deal with the tribulations and “inconveniences” (for lack of a better word) of losing our memories.

1 comment:

  1. Protein is a great brain food! Makes sense that it would be good for Alzheimer’s based on what I know about how much it can help develop the brain in general.

    Memory Disorder Clinic