Have you ever forgotten where you keep your car keys or house keys? Trust me it has happened to me as well. Often your friends and family may joke about you getting old.
However, changes in cognitive function are not a matter to laugh. The ability to multi-task, manage time and make decisions dwindles when you reach the age of 60.
Do you sometimes fall short of words while speaking to your friends about your favorite song or movie? Even worse, do you forget your friends’ names? That can be a total disaster.
Of course, this is not done intentionally but is a result of normal aging.
Studies show that 1 in 6 people have a tendency to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Good News
In the past, it was believed that your brain cells start to decline or die early in life as you age. Recent research shows that the brain has the ability to grow new cells, increase in size, and make new connections throughout an entire lifetime.
Fostering these positive changes and improving your memory is possible through brain foods, along with exercise and meditation.
The researchers have identified several foods that boost brain power and may help protect you from cognitive decline.
The brain functions like a computer in the way it can access information in the form of chunks. Information in our brain in the form of memories makes us what we are.
However, with age, memory lapses occur due to changes in the structure and function of the brain-not necessarily because of age-related diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Our brain requires proper nutrition, learning new skills, and care to retain useful information.
The great breakthrough in your life comes when you realize that you can learn anything you need to learn to accomplish any goal that you set for yourself. This means there are no limits on what you can be, have or do- Brian Tracy.
Cognitive health is a cornerstone of health and well being. It determines the quality of our decisions and, therefore, our entire life. Prior research has identified several factors for better cognitive function.
I would not be surprised if some of you have grown weary listening to memory fades with time which aging has produced. I’ll turn to the constructive side of the problem.
Although as we age changes are inevitable but there is a lot of reasons to stay young in mind.
Focus on the positive changes and foods that boost brain power, improve your memory and concentration to age well.
Specific nutrients in food affect cognitive function and promote mental fitness. Also, gut hormones and hormones in the brain like BDNF plays a crucial role to nourish the brain.
Brain Foods that boost brain health and cognitive function is not a latest exotic foods but are present in your kitchen.
1. Yogurt- A Probiotic linked to Brain Health
They are host to gut-friendly bacteria (Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria). These good bacteria in yogurt improve mood.
Studies have proved a link between the therapeutic effect of gut bacteria and cognitive centers of the brain.
Yogurt cures the condition of dysbiosis that involves neurological disorders such as depression and anxiety, autoimmune disorders like allergies, Celiac disease, and IBD.
A study also proved consumption of probiotic yogurt for 8 weeks decreased inflammatory cytokines in overweight patients.
It has beneficial impact on cognitive function in (Alzheimer’s Disease) AD patients.
Add yogurt in your diet regularly will help you enhance your good bacteria that improves brain function.
2. Walnuts- A Brain Food
Walnuts which resembles brain shape are loaded with high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids ( PUFA) and deliver potential benefits to keep the brain healthy.
Walnut-rich diet has polyphenolic compounds that work as an anti-oxidant and prevents the inflammatory burden to brain cells. Walnut is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, plant based omega-3 fatty acid.
It also improves cognitive control that helps in the decreased feeling of hunger and appetite and aids in weight loss.
Food rich in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals such as, English walnuts and Manchurian walnuts (Juglans mandshurica Maxim.) are rich in phytochemicals, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) positively affects brain health.
Add walnuts in the grocery list to incorporate its nutrient in your diet. Eat a quarter cup of walnuts for daily intake of DHA.
3. Indian Gooseberries- Superfoods for Brain
Berries such as Indian Gooseberries, blackberries, blueberries naturally packed with anti-oxidants. A bioactive compound that fights off free radicals.
Free radicals: Free radicals as the name suggests are free and unstable oxygen molecule that results from incomplete oxygen metabolism. When not counteracted can lead to oxidative stress a risk factor for CAD, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and other inflammation.
Recent research has established the role of anti-oxidants in preventing brain cells damage. The combination of flavonoids, anthocyanins, and polyphenols in gooseberries have anti-inflammatory properties against organ damage.
Berries are rich in anthocyanins prevents neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Eat raw or pickled gooseberries to add anti-oxidants to your diet.
4. Green Tea- A Beverage Correlated with Brain Health
A 2017 systematic review study published in Phytomedicine Journal, showed evidence that green tea decreases anxiety and boosts memory and attention. A combined effect of L-theanine and caffeine is beneficial for better cognition.
Drinking green tea has anti-stress effects due to a combination of L-theanine, Epigallocatechin (EGC) and arginine.
Another 2017 study showed a beneficial effect of caffeine ( at a low dose of 40 mg) on long-duration cognitive tasks during exam marathon improves both alertness and performance.
L-theanine (200mg) improves calmness and with caffeine influences alertness and attention-switching tasks. A task that requires your unconscious attention shifting from one task to another.
Such as scheduling appointment, greeting patients while answering a phone in the hospital. In addition, reading work related document while making an online purchase or taking a business call while shopping etc.
5. Herbs- A traditional approach to Brain Protection
Herbs such as Ginger, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Ginseng, Rosemary and Chinese celery. These herbs have neuroprotective benefits as it contains bioactive compounds that help to delay the aging process.
Moreover, they are rich in polyphenol that has anti-amyloidogenic activity. It has a therapeutic effect on dementia.
Fermented Ginseng: A study done on a memory deficient mouse model investigated the protective effects of fermented ginseng roots to improve memory.
6. Virgin Coconut Oil-
Virgin coconut oil along with exercise on a treadmill has been studied to lower effects of chronic stress on anxiety-like behavior in mice during lactation. Coconut oil is a natural source of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).
Therefore, fresh coconut has anti-inflammatory properties as they are better absorbed than other saturated fats of animal origin. Consume about two tablespoon of coconut oil daily to harness its health benefits. You can also add coconut in your diet as coconut chutney or coconut milk.
7. Foods rich in Resveratrol:
Foods rich in resveratrol such as blueberries, cranberries, pistachios can alleviate oxidative stress by improving brain energy metabolism in a study conducted in rats.
A double-blind placebo-controlled trial done by researchers on 50-80 years of participants showed that edible mushroom improves mild cognitive impairment.
9. Food rich in Flavonoid:
Foods rich in flavonoids such as apple, dark chocolate, and broccoli is efficient in improving memory and cognitive function in both humans and animals.
Dietary foods along with flavonoid supplementation have a therapeutic effect on cognitive deficits that result from neurodegeneration in animal studies.
More studies are needed in investigating the therapeutic effect of flavonoids in the cognitive function of humans.
10. Beans- A Good Source of Fuel to Brain Health
Beans are also known as legumes and pulses, for example, kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Beans are a pack of fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates.
Glucose provides energy to the brain that is obtained through foods. Beans can provide a steady source of glucose.
As fiber from complex carbohydrates in beans aids in slow digestion and thus a slow release of energy. It aids in stabilizing blood sugar levels and is the source of glucose to the brain.
Bean is a good substitute for meat products as an alternate protein source. Add beans in your diet about half a cup daily.
In childhood you might have learned or applied the technique of learning through mnemonics. Mnemonics is basically a technique to improve brain’s ability to learn, retain and remember any information.
The other technique is learning by association in which we relate information to things we already know to make meaningful information for a long-term memory.
It is normal as we age our memory and cognitive skills frails but with the help of cognitive reserve can rewire the brain to work properly and maintain its health.
There is another reason that takes a toll in brain’s health, and that is procrastination. If we break our task in small chunks, it becomes easy to complete that work within the deadline that gives less stress to the brain.
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- Tomas Cerdo, Alicia Ruiz et al. 2017. Probiotic, Prebiotic, and Brain Development. Nutrients.9(11):1247. doi: 10.3390/nu9111247.
- Mancini, Edele & Beglinger, Christoph & Drewe, Juergen & Zanchi, Davide & Lang, Undine & Borgwardt, Stefan. (2017). Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review. Phytomedicine. 34. 10.1016/j.phymed.2017.07.008.
- Christina Dietz, Matthijs Dekker. 2017. Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 23(29). DOI : 10.2174/1381612823666170105151800.