Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Can Food Affect Memory? Is there such a thing as "Brain Food"?

 I'm sure you have heard at least once in your life, "eat this, it is brain food".  I remember this personally when someone was referring to fish. Those people are right - fish, as well as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can be considered "brain food".

How and why may you ask?   All cells in your body require a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to live and function properly.  Brain cells are especially needy for oxygen and nutrients and require a steady flow of both for optimal functionality.  Anything that interferes with that blood flow will cause issues for those brain (memory) cells.

Issues such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, and high blood sugar are all issues that will affect blood flow in the body and not ideal for optimal brain functionality.  A healthy balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low in saturated fat is key to preventing such medical issues.

What are good foods to choose to help with memory?

  • Fruits and Vegetables rich in color are also rich in natural compounds called phytochemicals.  These antioxidants not only help against the damage of oxidative stress that occurs naturally during metabolism, but they may also prevent the buildup of plaque in your arteries to keep blood flow strong and steady (especially to the brain).  Blackberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, kale, spinach, argula, and other leafy greens to name just a few.
  • Foods containing Omega 3 are also good for the brain and memory.  The human brain is almost 2/3 fat by weight and the most abundant type is called DHA.  DHA is one of the most potent forms of Omega 3's (the other is  EPA) and a great source of them are fatty fishes such as salmon.   Other sources of Omega 3s include sardines, trout, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, chia seeds, and soybeans.
To protect your memory and brain, you will want to limit your intake of foods containing large amounts of saturated and trans-fats.