Want to improve your memory? Start with your diet!
Whether cramming for an exam, preparing a presentation at work or just trying to remember what happened last week, we’ve all wished for better memory and focus at one point or another. And while some factors controlling memory are outside your control (curse you, genetics!), a healthy diet and lifestyle can absolutely make a difference. So, want to improve your focus, increase your patience and amp up your memory? Here’s what you can do to boost your brain power.
Have a Heart
How do you boost brain function? Focus on foods that help keep the blood flowing up to your noggin. In other words, a heart-healthy diet is also a brain-healthy diet. That means eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, and loading up on heart-healthy fats, fruits, veggies and lean proteins. And, of course, moderating your intake of processed foods, sugars, saturated fats and simple carbs – which can lead to inflammation and mess with your cognitive function.
So why is saturated fat bad for your brain? We know it raises “bad” cholesterol, which can wreak havoc on your arteries. But it can also speed up the formation of something called beta-amyloid plaques in your brain, which can damage your grey matter, deprive brain cells of oxygen and even lead to Alzheimer’s. But that doesn’t mean all fat is bad. In fact, unsaturated fats found in olive oil, fish, nuts and avocados have been linked to lower rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Avo toast, anyone?
So what foods should you seek out to keep both your heart and your brain humming along happily? The fact is, you just can’t go wrong with the Mediterranean diet. Here’s what that means for your pantry…
Live Life on the Veg
Yep, time to add brain health to the long list of reasons to eat your veggies. Make sure you’ve got some brassicas like cabbage, broccoli and kale on your plate at least one meal every day. And don’t forget good old romaine lettuce. While it might not be as high in some nutrients as kale and spinach, it’s a great source of S- adenosylmethionine (try saying that three times fast!), which has been shown to directly improve cognitive function.
Grin and Berry It
But it’s not all kale and broccoli. Blackberries, blueberries and cherries – a.k.a. nature’s candy – have also been shown to help boost memory and cognition. That’s thanks to their high dosage of anthocyanins and other brain-boosting flavonoids, which help facilitate brain-cell signaling (kinda like sending your brain to the gym!).
Go Alpha with Omegas
Make sure you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, whether from fatty fish like salmon and sardines, or from walnuts, flax seeds and leafy greens if you’re following a plant-based diet. These essential nutrients help improve memory and cognition, and have even been shown to improve your mood. Not sure you’re getting enough? Look into fish oil or flax oil as a supplement.
That’s not too hard, is it? And if you pair these healthy diet choices with regular exercise and a good night’s sleep, you’ll be doing your brain a big favour. Makes you think, doesn’t it…