Feeling Forgetful? Look to Your Plate
Occasional bouts of forgetfulness are a normal part of day-to-day life, but when those bouts become more frequent, it may be a sign of stress, aging or both. Good news—there are things you can do to support your neurons and strengthen your recall ability, starting with your diet.
Why Diet Matters When it Comes to Memory
Eating a diet rich in healthy fats and other essential nutrients helps improve the flow of blood to our brains, in turn powering up our cognitive abilities. On the other hand, diets that are high in saturated fats may contribute to memory impairment over time. Scientists suggest that cholesterol plaque buildup in our brain’s blood vessels impedes the flow of oxygen to the brain. This may cause tissue damage, increase the chance of stroke and impact our ability to think and remember information.
The good news is that it’s not too late to switch to a brain-boosting lifestyle. A growing number of studies over the past decade point to the relationship between intake of certain nutrients and brain health, and the results indicate that eating right can not only improve our mental performance, it can help keep us young, as well. Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, Professor and Director of the Neurotrophic Research Laboratory, summarizes a variety of recent studies on brain health as follows:
“We now know that particular nutrients influence cognition by acting on molecular systems or cellular processes that are vital for maintaining cognitive function. This raises the exciting possibility that dietary manipulations are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities and protecting the brain from damage, promoting repair and counteracting the effects of aging.”
What to Eat to Boost Your Brain Power
Omega-3 fatty acids
These nutrients are powerhouses when it comes to total health. Studies suggest a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease the likelihood of developing a number of illnesses, including certain cancers, heart disease, arthritis and more. They’re also crucial for optimal brain health and have been shown to mitigate the effects of various mental health disorders while protecting against dementia.
The most well-known source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish (including mackerel, tuna and salmon) but they can also be found in walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and soybeans.
Vitamin B6, B12, Folate
The past couple decades have seen B Vitamins earn their place in the brain health spotlight. Studies show their invaluable role in delaying—and even preventing—the onset of dementia. Michael Greger M.D. of NutritionFacts.org breaks down how supplementing with B vitamins can mitigate the impact of high concentrations of homocysteine in the blood. While homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid, when found in high concentrations, studies show it increases the likelihood of eventual decline in memory functions.
Problematically, a large number of Americans are lacking in at least one of the three major B vitamins. Fortunately, there are some quick fixes you can make to your diet to ensure you’re accounting for all these crucial nutrients.
Vitamin B6 can be found in foods like potatoes, bananas and leafy greens. Leafy greens are also a good source of folate, which is also found in grain products like bread, pasta and rice. Dairy, eggs and meat products are all good sources of B12. Follow a plant-based lifestyle? You’ll want to supplement your diet with this important nutrient, especially if you’re planning on sticking to a plant-based lifestyle long-term. (Good news! SciLife™ makes this easy. VitaYears™ Anti-Aging Support and VitaYears™ Memory Support are both rich in B12.)
Recent studies by researchers at Oregon State University suggest that getting enough Vitamin E is critical for maintaining brain health. As paraphrased by OSU’s blog, “vitamin E deficiency may cause neurological damage by interrupting a supply line of specific nutrients and robbing the brain of the ‘building blocks’ it needs to maintain neuronal health.” Even more concerning is that most adult Americans fail to get enough Vitamin E in their diet on a daily basis.
Concerned you’re not getting enough Vitamin E? Good sources of this nutrient are vegetable oils (especially sunflower oil), almonds, hazelnuts and fortified cereals.
According to Jeremy P. E. Spencer (Molecular Nutritionist at the University of Reading), studies suggest that flavonoids not only “protect neurons against injury induced by neurotoxins,” they can also help keep inflammation at bay while boosting cognitive performance. They do this by smoothing the lines of communication in key areas of the brain (including the pathways that regulate gene expression) and by improving cerebrovascular blood flow, which is particularly valuable in ensuring that the brain functions optimally.
Flavonoids can be found in cocoa, berries, tea, red wine, citrus fruits, apples, celery and legumes.
Cover All Your Bases with a Science-Backed Supplement
In addition to following a well-balanced nutritional regimen rich in a variety of whole foods, the right supplement can go a long way toward supporting you in your wellness goals and keeping your brain firing on all cylinders. VitaYears™ Memory Support includes a number of nutrients proven to improve recall, focus and general mental health to help you live your best, most vital life.