There are some aspects to aging that we can all look forward to: Becoming wiser, taking more time for ourselves, and not sweating the small stuff. But there are other aspects that most of us would be happy to forego, namely experiencing chronic aches and pains and having “senior moments.”
Why do older people have these senior moments? What exactly is going on in the brain that makes remembering things more difficult?
The brain is like a computer, and as you have probably experienced with your own computers, they tend to slow down the longer you have them. Like the internal processor on a computer, older brains simply process information slower than younger brains. So, if a kid has an intel i7 processor, his grandfather most likely has an earlier version, like the intel Pentium. This slowing not only affects processing information, but storing, retrieving, and encoding it as well.
The good news is, just like there are things you can do to keep your computer running efficiently, there are things you can do to keep your brain in tip-top shape. While many older people experience senior moments, nowhere does it say that all people are required to become senile in their “Golden Years.”
Much of how we age depends on how we live. What kind of lifestyle choices are you making? Your choices today affect your health tomorrow.
With this in mind, if you want to ensure your brain ages gracefully and you remain sharp as a tack, be careful what you eat. Some foods are incredible at boosting brain health while others do the exact opposite.
Wanna know what you should and shouldn’t eat to keep your brain young? Keep reading!
3 Foods That Hurt Your Memory
While the debate about whether or not sodium is the real culprit behind hypertension rages on, studies have found that high levels of the white stuff impaired cognitive ability. The most significant changes in brain health were seen in those who consumed large amounts of salt and exercised little. (HINT: You’re supposed to do it the other way around!) In fact, the cited study found that this cognitive decline could be reversed when exercise is increased and sodium intake decreased.
As if you haven’t heard enough bad about trans fats to remove them from your diet forever, a study published in the Journal PLoS found that eating high amounts of trans fats was linked to difficulty remembering words. The study followed people who ate between 3.8 grams to 27.7 grams each day. After some time, participants were asked to identify new versus recurring words in a series. Those that consumed high amounts of trans fats correctly recalled 65 words, while those that ate less trans fats recalled 86 words.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average person consumes roughly 50 pounds of cane sugar and 35 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup each year. You may think these numbers don’t sound possible, but that’s the problem with eating pre-packaged foods, they are generally loaded with unhealthy stuff that you aren’t even aware of, unless of course you read every label, which we wholeheartedly endorse.
A UCLA study found that when rats ate a diet high in fructose, the brain slowed down, which ultimately affected learning and memory. Too much sugar caused the rats to develop insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, and this in turn affected how brain cells used and stored sugar for processing thoughts and emotions.
3 Foods That Boost Your Memory
So now that you know what you shouldn’t eat, here are some foods that are great at helping you maintain, if not boost, your memory:
Since we just reminded you that some of your favorite “foods” are really bad for you, we thought we’d start this list with some good news. And that is, coffee, in moderation, is actually very good for your brain. This is thanks to two main ingredients: the caffeine and antioxidants.
Antioxidants help your body fight free radical damage in the brain. And, while too much caffeine can cause you to feel jittery and anxious, lesser amounts can make you feel alert. Caffeine has been linked to increased production of “feel good” neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Coffee has also been linked to a reduced risk of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Wow, first coffee and now dark chocolate? No, you’re not dreaming. Some of our favorite foods are in fact good for our health. As long as we eat them in moderation!
While milk chocolate offers little (if any) health benefits and vast amounts of sugar and fat, dark chocolate also contains caffeine and antioxidants, as well as powerful brain-boosting flavonoids. Flavonoids are special antioxidants that have been found to enhance memory and slow down age-related mental decline.
We talk a lot on this blog about the benefits of fatty fish. That’s because fish like salmon, herring and sardines contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation and improve our overall health.
Did you know that a good portion of your brain is made up of fat? Close to 60%, to be exact, and half of this fat is the omega-3 kind.
With this knowledge, you can understand a bit better why fish oil and the omega-3s it contains are so important. They are the very building blocks of our brain, hence, they’re pretty darn important when it comes to cognition and memory.
In fact, research has found that omega-3s may be able to slow mental decline as we age and prevent the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As an added bonus, eating fatty fish may also help to ward off mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
But there are some other crucial things you must do if you want to ward off “senior moments.” Let’s face it, these so-called “senior moments” are really early indicators that something much more alarming might be going on, like the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Now I don’t want to alarm you, but I do want to make it crystal clear that the health of your brain is in YOUR hands. There are plenty of people in their 80s, 90s and beyond who are living active and vital lives because they know the secrets shared in this presentation.
If you’re concerned about your mental health, or if you’re looking to strengthen your mind and prevent cognitive decline… then you’re going to love the information in THIS presentation.