With help from a lot of folks, we were able to piece together our past. All this got me thinking about my neurons and how I might stall the aging process which has been escalating since I hit the ripe old age of fifty-twelve.
I overheard a doctor on The Today Show talking about “brain” foods – those things that contain flavonoids which can boost the memory function. Other nutrients that have been found to improve memory are folate and omega-3 fatty acids.
You might want to include the following on your grocery list list this week.
Berries have some of the highest concentrations of antioxidants among fruit, and all berries are rich in healthy anthocyanins and flavonols,which may help protect against the breakdown of brain cells. Some encouraging animal studies have suggested that diets rich in flavonoids may help reverse memory loss in humans. They’ll will be appearing in farmers’ markets soon, and I will be in line to stock up.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens are loaded with folate which seems to have a direct effect on memory. In a study done at Tufts University in Boston, reseachers followed 320 men for three years and tracked their blood levels of homocysteine — an amino acid that has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease. The participants who had high levels of homocysteine showed memory decline; those who ate foods rich in folic acid, however, which directly lowers homocysteine levels, demonstrated a protective effect against memory decline.
I wish they’d do a study pitting southerners against Yankees. Bet those south of the Mason Dixon line will score better because of our penchant for turnip greens.
More good news for the South. What could be better than a plate of Mississippi Pond Raised catfish – fried of course. Research suggests that when it comes to food and memory, fish should be the star of the show — specifically, fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel and the generous amounts of omega-3 fats they provide. In fact, a study published in the Archives of Neurology in November 2006 found that subjects with the highest levels of omega-3s were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than subjects with the lowest levels.
Another, earlier study, conducted by researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, followed more than 3,000 men and women for six years to see how diet affected their memory. Those who ate fish at least once a week had a 10 percent slower memory decline than those who did not eat fish, a difference that gave them the memory and thinking ability of a person three years younger.
Strive to eat three 4-ounce servings of fatty fish per week. If that’s not realistic, consider using fish oil supplements.
Here’s more good news for coffee lovers: About two years ago, researchers from the University of Innsbruck in Austria found that caffeinated coffee can temporarily sharpen a person’s focus and memory. After giving volunteers the caffeine equivalent of about two cups of coffee, they used magnetic resonance imaging to observe that the volunteers’ brain activity was increased in two locations, one of which is involved in memory. Volunteers given no caffeine showed no increase in brain activity.
Another study, published in a leading neurology journal, found that the effects of caffeine may be longer lasting in women. This four-year-long study involved about 7,000 participants who all went through baseline evaluations for cognitive function and blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other vascular issues.
The researchers reevaluated the participants at the end of two years and again at the end of four years; they found that women 65 and older who drank more than three cups of coffee per day (or the caffeine equivalent in tea) had about a third less decline in memory over that time than the women who drank one cup or less of coffee (or the caffeine equivalent in tea) per day.
The results held up even after the researchers adjusted them to take into account other factors that could affect memory function, such as age, education, baseline cognitive function, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, medications, and chronic illnesses.
The researchers speculated that this caffeine-memory association was not observed in men because it’s possible that the sexes metabolize caffeine differently.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that unfiltered coffee (such as espresso, as well as coffee made in a French press) contains compounds that can raise cholesterol levels, especially in people who are already battling high cholesterol. To be safe, stick with filtered coffee, and of course, be moderate when adding milk and sugar! (Source: Joy Bauer.com.)