Keep your memory sharp through smart nutrition.
You enter a room, stare in confusion, and ask yourself, “What did I come here for again?” Forgetfulness can spring from a variety of different factors, including stress, lack of rest and sleep, genetics, an inactive lifestyle (both physically and/or mentally), and environmental factors.
Diet, however, is no exception. There is a strong link between a healthy, nutritious, whole food-based diet and a decreased risk of memory loss and cognitive decline. Learn about 6 types of foods worth introducing into your regular diet to improve memory preservation.
Think it’s too late? True, when it comes to protecting brain health through diet, the earlier the better. However, these evidence-based tips can even help those who are already experiencing memory or other cognitive problems. In fact, the results of a recent clinical trial demonstrate that proper nutrition, together with exercise, social activity, and cognitive training, improved brain performance in older adults aged 60 to 77. 1 In other words, it’s never too late!
Make it Mediterranean
What helps your heart can help your brain, too. A diet that encourages proper, nutrient-rich blood flow is good for the brain, too. Good blood flow to the brain keeps it sharp, focused, and functioning. The heart-healthy Mediterranean diet does just that. It improves blood flow and can help keep the inner lining of blood vessels healthy and supple. The Mediterranean diet starts with a strong base of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It limits the consumption of red meat and poultry. However, it does include plenty of beans, lentils, fish, and healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
Eat Your Veggies, Especially Cruciferous Ones
Cruciferous vegetables include bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, Brussels sprouts, arugula, turnips, radishes, rutabaga, watercress and other dark leafy green vegetables. What makes these vegetables worth including on the grocery list?
They are critical for good brain health. Research demonstrates that as cruciferous vegetable intake increases, cognitive decline slows down. They also improve overall health being that they are high in fiber and loaded with antioxidants and vitamins.
True, they tend to have a pungent odor and bitter taste. This is due to the very compound that gives cruciferous vegetables their cancer-fighting properties – glucosinolates. To tone down the bitterness and enhance the sweetness of cruciferous veggies, salt the veggies lightly, avoid overcooking them, and use an acidic ingredient (such as citrus juice or balamic vinegar) with olive oil to raise the pH. Simple ways to enjoy them cooked include a broccoli stir fry, a kale and white bean soup, or a veggie kabob with Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and peppers. To enjoy leafy vegetables raw, such as a raw kale salad, massage the leaves and marinate for several minutes before eating.
Be Berry Wise
Berries and cherries are now well-known for being powerful memory-boosters. They offer potent antioxidants, including anthocyanins and flavonoids, and anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital published a study in the Annals of Neurology that found that a high intake of berries can delay memory loss by two and a half years.
The best part is that they are super easy to introduce in a regular diet. Enjoy a handful of berries as is, mix them in yogurt or cereal, or sneak them into a baked dessert. Frozen berries are great for making a refreshing smoothie with milk and whey protein powder.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are essential for good brain health. In fact, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. Therefore, higher blood levels of DHA help the brain function better.
Some of the best sources of omega-3 includes seafood, algae, and fatty fish (such as salmon, sardines, herring, and bluefin tuna). Plant sources of omega-3 include leafy greens, walnuts, and seeds such as hemp, flax, or chia. For a brain-healthy dose of omega-3, replace meat dishes with one of these fish or seafood sources of omega-3 at least three times each week.
Try a sesame-seed crusted salmon burger, fish tacos, or seared tuna on a fresh green salad. Grilling, baking, and broiling fish bring out the best flavor and are healthier cooking methods.
Turn Up Your Memory With Tumeric
This next ingredient may already be in your spice cabinet. Turmeric is a useful weapon against memory loss, inflammation, and brain disease in general. Studies show it is useful in keeping blood sugar levels low and preventing insulin resistance. It has also demonstrated it’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain to destroy the beta-amyloid plaques that cause neuron damage in Alzheimer’s disease.
Enjoy turmeric by adding it to many recipes you may already know including roasted vegetables, an egg or tofu scramble, or your favorite rice side dish. Turmeric is also a great addition to soups, smoothies, or boiled as a tea.
A healthy heart makes for a healthy brain. What’s the connection? Unhealthy habits that contribute to heart disease lead to narrowing of blood vessels. This reduces blood flow to the brain, hardens the arteries of the brain, and can eventually block blood flow to the brain (stroke). Research data suggests that stroke risk can be reduced by limiting red meat and replacing it with other dietary sources of protein, such as whey protein. Whey protein may also have a beneficial effect on blood pressure and blood fats.
Whey is a complete protein found in milk. You can also find it isolated in powdered form. A high-quality whey protein isolate powder should come from grass-fed cows not treated with hormones or antibiotics. EnergyFirst’s ProEnergy whey protein isolate is an all-natural whey protein isolate powder with no gluten, fat, cholesterol, or lactose. It is ultra-low glycemic with 0-1 grams of sugars per serving. Enjoy a vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or unflavored whey protein smoothie just the way you like it.
Eat Your Way to a Better Brain
The best part about eating healthy for your brain is that these foods also support the health of the rest of your body. True, these foods don’t guarantee you’ll be able to locate the car keys you’ve misplaced. However, they will help nourish your brain.
Avoiding foods that promote inflammation will also help protect your brain. These include foods with preservatives, additives, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and chemicals.
To make the most of these benefits, get adequate exercise, sleep, and social interaction and mental activity to stimulate your brain.
ALSO READ: 3 Ways Hormones Keep You in Divine Health
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