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Food and Memory

Food and Memory

- Wellness Articles, Wellness Cuisine
Chiva-Som Salmon Pepper Fondue

Humans are unique and what makes us different from other creatures is developmental differences in our nervous system develop and how our brain works. The internal communication networks in our brain dictate how we live and perceive our lives. Each part of our brain cooperates systematically in order to help our body move and to do activities effectively including highly complicated tasks such as learning and memorization.  However, as we age, our memory becomes less reliable – both in forming new memories and retrieving old ones.  Fortunately, we can take steps to keep our brain functioning optimally through proper diet and lifestyle choices.

Research has shown that Omega-3 fatty acids - found in salmon, flax seeds, kiwis, butternuts and walnuts - have a positive impact on our brain’s functional capacity.  These healthy fats can potentially protect nerve cells in the brain from damage and may even promote nerve regeneration. There are promising animal studies showing the benefits of omega-3 fats on improving the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. 

Other antioxidant nutrients found in wholesome, minimally processed foods are shown to be beneficial to brain health, such as bioflavonoids found in colorful vegetables and fruits (especially blueberries) and cacao.  Ginkgo biloba is a herb that contains antioxidant plant compounds like bioflavonoids that have demonstrated significant benefits to enhancing and preserving memory.  However, please do not start taking Ginkgo without checking with your doctor first, due to potential interactions with certain prescribed medications.

Unfortunately, there are a few dietary nutrients that may negatively impact on brain function and memory.  Some animal studies have suggested that consuming large amounts of saturated fats impaired memory.  This may be due to the nature of saturated fats to promote higher amounts of inflammation in the body and brain.  Saturated fats have also been linked to cardiovascular disease, which can impair blood flow to the brain and disrupt function.

Choosing to consume food containing significant amounts of Omega-3 fats, curcumin, and bioflavonoids (dark-colored berries, colorful vegetables) seems to have a positive and beneficial impact on brain function and memory. Conversely, a diet that is laden with junk food and large amounts of saturated fats should be modified to avoid the negative impact on brain health.  It’s never too early to start making the right choices for preserving the health and function of your memory.

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