Mar 29, 2022
Can your Diet Impact the Strength of your Memory
To put it simply, perhaps a better title for this article could be: Boost your Memory by Eating Right. What we eat, how much of it we eat, and what we do not eat, has a tremendous effect on our brain function, our ability to learn, and our ability to remember things. Not to mention how long we live and the quality of those years.
Before we indulge in a nice juicy steak or grab that double cheeseburger and douse it with fry sauce, consider how big of impact these foods might have on our ability to remember things and the likelihood of developing dementia as we age.
Take that double cheeseburger for instance, it's loaded with saturated fat, which is known to raise blood levels of unhealthy, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Other kinds of fats, such as trans fats, do the same thing to raise levels of unhealthy LDL. LDL cholesterol builds up in, and damages, arteries. We have known for years LDL cholesterol is bad for our heart. There is now a lot of evidence that it's also bad for our brain as well.
Recently published research showed that women who ate the most saturated fats from foods such as red meat and butter performed worse on tests of thinking and memory than women who ate the lowest amounts of these fats.
The buildup of cholesterol plaques in brain blood vessels can damage brain tissue, either through small blockages that cause silent strokes, or a larger, more catastrophic stroke. Either way, brain cells are deprived of the oxygen-rich blood they need to function normally, which can compromise thinking and memory.
Let’s talk health and be positive - foods that are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats are wonderful in the battle to preserve memory and overall healthy brain function. These foods are often linked together and called the Mediterranean diet. This way of eating typically includes:
- Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil to help improve the health of blood vessels, reducing the risk for a memory-damaging stroke.
- Fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to lower levels of beta-amyloid proteins in the blood and better vascular health.
- Moderate alcohol consumption raises levels of healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Alcohol also lowers our cells' resistance to insulin, allowing it to lower blood sugar more effectively. Insulin resistance has been linked to dementia.
Diet isn't the only way to preserve memory. If we want to keep our brain sharp as we get older, follow these recommendations:
- Control our cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels with diet, exercise, and medicines only as a last resort.
- Quit smoking. One review of studies associated smoking with a significantly higher risk for Alzheimer's disease.
- Get outside for a brisk daily walk. Exercising three or more times a week has been linked to a lower risk for dementia.
- Keep our weight in a healthy range for our height. A body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal, even lower than 18.5 is wonderful.
Diet has a tremendous impact on our memory. Eat well, live well, and remember well. Be Blessed.
Category: Dr. Sterling