In recent years, there has been a lot of hype about various foods that can improve memory and concentration. Of course, in today’s society, forgetfulness is simply part of life. American families are so busy running from place to place, working multiple jobs, and keeping up with kids that we sometimes forget even the simplest things. Is there any truth in the thought that foods can improve memory? The answer is an astonishing yes!
How Can Food Improve Memory?
This is actually a very common question, but it is one that has a relatively simple answer. Food can help with memory improvement and concentration by protecting the brain cells that already exist, and even helping the brain generate new brain cells. Even in adulthood, it is completely possible for brain cells to regenerate, as long as the right nutrients are being put into the bloodstream. The nutrients that the body needs to create and protect these brain cells come from only one place – the foods we eat. In a nutshell, as long as we choose brain-healthy foods [as you can see in this great infographic!], we will spend far less time searching for our car keys and cell phones, and more time doing the things we truly enjoy.
Although we have all been told how bad fat is for our bodies, many people forget – or simply are not aware – that there are some fats that are healthy and in fact necessary for the health of our brains. Most of the structure of the cells in our brains comes from these fats, and there are plenty of food sources from which we can continue to get what are known as Omega-3 fatty acids. Some great sources include albacore tuna, salmon, flaxseed oil, eggs, wheat germ, walnuts, canola oil, and even eggs. These foods are all tasty, healthy and can be incorporated into a variety of recipes. Salmon is the best source of Omega-3s, while eggs are at the bottom of the list.
Antioxidants are designed to protect the brain cells that your body works hard to create. As we age, substances known as free radicals will begin to infiltrate our bloodstreams and break down the cells in our brains. Scientific studies have shown that these free radicals are one of the primary causes of what is considered to be “normal” memory loss in aging adults. However, no amount of memory loss is ever normal, and there are ways to fight these free radicals. Foods like blueberries, broccoli, red wine, soy, spinach, green tea, tomatoes and whole grains contain antioxidants, which are substances that attach to free radicals and render them virtually harmless (see more food here).
High Tyrosine Proteins
Although the name makes it sound complicated, high tyrosine proteins are actually quite simple to understand. Essentially, these are the proteins that help to build the neurotransmitters in the brain that allow for messages to be sent between neurons. Tyrosine is a compound that can be produced naturally by the body, but this can only occur when we eat the right foods. Some great high tyrosine proteins that can help boost the number of messages our brains can process include dairy products, eggs, soy and seafood.
Although we all know that we need water to stay healthy, very few people actually take the time to consider how water can help improve brain function and therefore boost the memory. It is surprisingly easy to become dehydrated; in fact, many people spend much of their lives mildly dehydrated due to the amount of caffeine, alcohol or sodium they consume. Even mild cases of dehydration can have significant impacts on the brain’s ability to send messages between neurons, thereby hindering memory and concentration. Making sure to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water every single day keeps the body hydrated and improves brain function drastically.
Whether you get them from the foods you eat (which are always best) or consume them in supplement form, there are vitamins and minerals that are absolutely essential to the health of your brain, and therefore your memory and concentration. These include things like Vitamins B6, B12 and C, as well as iron and calcium. Leafy green vegetables are great sources of vitamins B6, B12, C and iron, while calcium can be found in many fruits and dairy products. In fact, these days, it is possible to find everyday products that have added calcium for bone health. This calcium is good for much more than our bones, however, since it may help us remember things and concentrate.
Although we’ve all heard how important fiber is for our heart and intestinal health, studies have shown that fiber is just as important for our brains. Fiber is good for the brain because it slows the rate at which our bodies absorb sugar dramatically. While it’s true that the brain works on sugar, this sugar must be delivered in a steady fashion in order for it to perform at full capacity. As such, consuming plenty of fiber ensures that our brains’ fuel supply is constant, uninterrupted and adequate for the best function possible. Whole grains, nuts and seeds, whole fruits, dried fruits and most vegetables are great sources of fiber.
It is often surprising to learn just how simple improving memory and concentration can be, such as skipping junk food. By consuming the right amount of water every day and making sure we eat healthy, we can not only improve our physical conditions, but our mental ones as well.