The older we get the more and more difficult it becomes remembering things like names and numbers. Believe it or not, this doesn’t have to be the case. It used to be a common belief amongst researchers that memory loss was a common side-effect of aging. In recent years, that belief has shifted. You can improve your memory retention even as you get older with a healthy diet. In this article, we will go over some of the best and worst foods for your memory.
What Foods Are Bad for Your Memory?
A poor diet can cause a major decline in cognitive functions. By simply altering your diet, you greatly reduce the risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. But what are the main foods you should avoid? Here are five foods that cause memory loss:
- Refined bread and pasta - These foods are stripped of the nutrients so there’s no fiber to slow down their digestion
- Red meat - Studies found the most important dietary link to Alzheimer’s Disease appears to be meat consumption, with eggs and high-fat dairy also contributing. Just like saturated fat clogs the cardiovascular system, the blood vessels in our brain become clogged as well
- Vegetable Oils - These oils are full of omega-6 which is an inflammatory fatty acid, which is linked with increased risk for Alzheimer’s
- Cheese - Pizza and cheese are the biggest sources of saturated fat in the American diet. This fat clogs our brain vessels the same way it clogs our heart vessels
- Refined Sugar - Too much sugar causes inflammation in the brain and like those refined carbs, it spikes your blood sugar which leaves your body and your brain without the energy they need
As we mentioned earlier, it’s not like you need to stop eating these foods for the rest of your life. However, cutting these foods out of your regular diet can help tremendously. It’s okay to splurge every once in a while but you should not be eating these foods regularly.
What is the Number One Food that Fights Dementia?
In recent years, there’s been a push in the research community to discover just how big of a role our diet plays on our brain health. In those studies, we’ve discovered that a healthy diet can greatly decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. During the studies, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago developed a diet plan called the MIND diet.
Early studies have found that the diet may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53%. The study, published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia, looked at more than 900 people between the ages of 58 and 98 who filled out food questionnaires and underwent repeated neurological testing. It found participants whose diets most closely followed the MIND recommendations had a level of cognitive function the equivalent of a person 7.5 years younger.
How to Improve Memory Retention
There are many ways you can improve your memory both in the long term and in the short term. There are ways to improve memory retention right before an exam if you’re a student and ways to improve your long term memory if you’re a senior. Here are strategies recommended by experts to improve memory recall:
- Focus your attention - In order for information to move from your short-term memory into your long-term memory, you need to actively attend to this information
- Structure and organize - By structuring your information, you have a better chance of retaining it
- Mnemonic devices - It may seem elementary, but practicing mnemonic devices really does help improve memory retention
- Pay extra attention to things that are difficult to remember - Everyone’s brains work differently. What may be easy to remember to you is difficult for someone else and vice versa. Place an extra emphasis on the things that are difficult for you to remember
By practicing these techniques, you can improve your memory retention.
How Food Affects Your Brain
Of course, one of the best ways to take care of your brain is to eat a diet full of brain-healthy foods. These foods will not only take care of your brain’s wellbeing, but your entire body’s as a whole. Here are some foods that improve memory and concentration that also increase your longevity:
- Green veggies - These veggies are rich in nutrients such as vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene which can all slow cognitive decline
- Fatty fish - Fish have omega-3 acids and healthy unsaturated fats that have been linked to lower blood levels of beta-amyloid, which can cause brain damage
- Tea and coffee - Research has shown that those with higher caffeine consumption score better on tests of mental function
- Walnuts - Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats and may improve memory
By pairing a healthy diet with plenty of physical and mental exercise, you can take proper care of your brain. Both your brain and your body will thank you.
Do Brain Food Supplements Really Work?
Most brain boosting supplements are considered dietary supplements and are subject to the rigorous approval process that drugs are. The FDA limits the claims these manufacturers can make about their supplements. This essentially means that if a supplement says it can do something, it more than likely can.
However, it’s up to you to do the necessary research to ensure what you’re taking is safe and backed by FDA approval. It should also be noted that brain supplements aren’t going to work overnight and won’t magically boost your brain. You need to pair your supplements with a healthy diet and exercise routine to see the best results.
Supplements Can Help
One supplement that can help prevent cognitive dissonance, as well as other aging side-effects, is spermidine. Spermidine reduces inflammation factors, increases the formation of memory cells, and triggers the preventative removal of toxic protein aggregates in cells. This removal of toxic protein aggregates is known as autophagy. Autophagy literally means ‘self-eat.’
This process helps keep you feeling and looking young while also dramatically lowering your chances of developing aging diseases such as Parkison’s and Alzheimer’s. While it is possible to get your recommended daily intake of spermidine through your diet, it’s recommended to take supplements so you ensure you get the right dose. Simply taking your supplements with your dinner is a great way to remember to take spermidine supplements every night.