Learn more about how some super foods are improving memory and brain health.
Super Foods that Can Improve Your Memory
While many super food compounds are made available in pill form as nutritional supplements, they are most readily absorbed and utilized by your body in their natural form, as foods.
Dr. Susan Taylor Mayne, professor at Yale University, told the Scientific American, “A major problem with supplements is that they deliver nutrients out of context. The vitamins found in fruits, vegetables, and other foods come with thousands of other phytochemicals, or plant nutrients that are not essential for life but may protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic ailments.”
“Memory Boosting Super Foods That Fight Alzheimer’s” an Alzheimers.net article, discusses the best super foods for the brain, which you can find at any supermarket.
So next time you go shopping, treat yourself to some of the delicious, nutritious brain-healthy foods below.
Leafy Greens and Other Vegetables
Vegetables, particularly leafy green vegetables, have been shown to have protective effects on the brain according to research published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology. Research shows that not just leafy greens are beneficial, but vegetable intake in general, is beneficial for your health.
A study in the Journal of Nutritional Health and Aging states clearly: “Increased intake of vegetables is associated with a lower risk of dementia and slower rates of cognitive decline in old age.”
One important note that seniorswho take blood thinners such as coumadin should avoid greens like kale, and other substances like green tea that are high in vitamin K, as this can cause potentially dangerous drug interactions.
Fish, Nuts and Flax Seeds
According to research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease last month, omega-3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in fish, nuts and some grains, can potentially help to slow the rate of decline in Alzheimer’s.
Similar findings were reported in the European Journal of Nutrition in July. Both studies acknowledge further research is necessary and the Alzheimer’s Association, adds, “there is not yet sufficient evidence to recommend any omega-3 fatty acids to treat Alzheimer’s disease.”
Because foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids are naturally some of the healthiest foods there are, they are beneficial to whole-body health even if the scientific community hasn’t confirmed that they can actually reverse or slow Alzheimer’s.
Coffee, Chocolate and Spices
Coffee and chocolate contain caffeine, which studies have shown can improve memory and brain function.
A study in from May in the International Journal of Molecular Science indicated that caffeine may “slow Alzheimer’s disease pathology” through inhibiting a neurotransmitter believed to be associated with Alzheimer’s, acetylcholinesterase. A study published in Molecular Medicine Reports seemed to confirm potential benefits, finding that daily caffeine intake is associated with “significantly increased memory capability,” and may “reverse memory impairment.”
Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and turmeric are rich in their own unique compounds that may have multiple cognitive benefits. The journal Central Nervous Systems Agents in Medicinal Chemistrysays, “the neuroprotective effects of spices have been demonstrated and, whether directly or indirectly, such beneficial effects may also contribute to an improvement in cognitive function.” Spices contain so many compounds that they have multiple potential beneficial modes of action, including “anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-hypertensive and gluco-regulatory.”
The Diabetes Alzheimer’s Connection
The gluco-regulatory effect may be particularly interesting to researchers who ascribe to the hypothesis that Alzheimer’s could be a type 3 diabetes, an idea strongly advocated by science writer, Michael Pollan.
The study also notes that of the compounds found in many spices, a family of chemicals called polyphenolsmay be most significant. Polyphenols are not only found in spices, but also tea, wine, and the above mentioned delights – coffee and chocolate.
Berries and Dark Skinned Fruits with Antioxidants
Scientists have been exploring the benefits of antioxidants for quite a while, and there is some evidence that dietary antioxidants may improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
For example, one study reported on in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that an antioxidant may be able to reduce plaques in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s. Foods high in antioxidants include: berries like strawberries, oranges, raspberries and dark skinned fruits.
Healthy Oils Like Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Coconut Oil
Olive oil contains the above mentioned compounds, polyphenols. The particular phenols unique to olive oil may be particularly neuroprotective according to a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience.
Coconut oil is also being investigated for its Alzheimer’s fighting effect. One study, found in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, even investigated the possibility of using coconut oil to replace an approved medicine used to treat Alzheimer’s (caprylidene).
While further research is required, there is strong anecdotal evidence for the benefits of coconut oil for dementia. Dr. Mary T. Newport’s book, Alzheimer’s Disease: What if There Was a Cure?, strongly argues that coconut coconut oil may help people with Alzheimer’s.