How Seniors Can Improve Memory Later in LifeLast Updated: September 23, 2018
Everyone has a lapse in memory from time to time, but it seems like seniors have the most trouble when it comes to memory, cognitive function, and mental clarity. Luckily, there are things you can do at any age to help you keep your mind sharp and your memory sharper. For more advice on keeping your brain healthy well into your golden years, just keep reading!
Start by Eating the Right Foods
Are you eating the right foods for your brain health? To the surprise of many seniors, not all golden-agers are truly eating a brain-healthy diet. Thankfully, it's easy to change your routine in ways that incorporate healthy foods and supplements into your daily regimen. And when you start eating more foods that contain essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, they can really boost your brainpower.
Start by focusing on Omega-3 fatty acids such as those in fish, nuts, full-fat dairy products, and seeds. The average person consuming a western diet gets more omega-6 fatty acids than they do omega-3 fatty acids, which contributes to brain inflammation and poor cognitive function. You want to eat more omega-3 fatty acids that omega-6 fatty acids. This reduces brain inflammation and helps improve memory as well as concentration.
Next, take advantage of your produce section, especially the part that contains dark, colorful fruits and vegetables. Blueberries are especially good for the brain because of their nutrient-rich antioxidant content. But by no means are blueberries the only dark, sweet fruit that can improve your brain health. Grape seed extract has been shown to produce anti-aging benefits all over the body - especially in the brain. Dark, colorful produce also contains large amounts of various B vitamins. If you really want to help boost your brain health, pay special attention to how much Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, and folic acid you're getting.
In order to give your brain the fuel it needs for healthy memory recollection, be sure to eat plenty of low-glycemic carbohydrates from whole food sources such as rice, steel cut oatmeal, tubers, and whole grains. Healthy carbs provide your body and your brain with the energy you need to function at your best. Try to stay away from processed carbs and white bread, as those food sources contain large amounts of sugar. Excess sugar has been linked to obesity and poor gut health, which can both cause brain inflammation.
Specific Foods for Higher Brain Function
If you're eager to get started on your new brain healthy diet, we have a short list of brain food you should add to your next shopping list. Eating these foods, in addition to your regular diet, will help improve your overall brain health and cognitive function:
- Turmeric. Turmeric is one of the main ingredients in curry. It contains a potent antioxidant called curcumin. Turmeric is great for stimulating neurogenesis, which means that it helps improve memory and can even help your body produce brand new brain cells.
- Salmon. More specifically, wild caught salmon from Alaska. You may have to ask for it specifically from the seafood section of your local supermarket. It is high in the omega-3 fatty acids we discussed earlier, which protect your brain cells from inflammation and deterioration.
- Broccoli/Cauliflower. These two are the yin and yang of flowering cruciferous vegetables. They contain one of the most potent vitamins for brain health. It's called choline, and it plays an essential role in brain function. In addition, broccoli contains special flavonols which are shown to be highly neuroprotective.
- Walnuts. If you're not sure which fatty nuts to start with, try walnuts. They contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants and phytosterols. In some lab studies, walnuts have reversed brain aging in older rats. Eating walnuts may even help you improve your ability to learn new things by actively contemplating and thinking about them. This process is referred to as "inferential reasoning".
- Celery. Celery is another great vegetable that can help you ward off inflammation thanks to a plant compound called luteolin. In laboratory-tested mice, consuming high levels of luteolin reduce the rate of age-related memory loss.
- Coconut Oil. Cooking with coconut oil isn't just some fancy new trend all the kids are doing; it's also an excellent and tasty way to improve your brain health. Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (or MCTs for short) which contain large amounts of ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are a preferred food source for the brain, especially if your brain has recently been physically damaged or gone through some sort of trauma.
- Blueberries. In many ways, blueberries seemed like the perfect food for not just for brain health, but an overall boost in health and wellness. Specifically, blueberries contain many phytochemicals and antioxidants that boost brain health while improving cognitive function. Blueberries are also great for reducing neurodegeneration which results from oxidative stress.
- Avocado. In addition to containing heart-healthy good fats, avocados are a creamy, delicious source of brain-healthy nutrients. Eating avocados gives you a megadose of both vitamin K and folate. These nutrients help protect against strokes by preventing blood clots in the brain.
- Beets. Beets are an often overlooked root vegetable that contain many beneficial nutrients for your mind and your overall health. Specifically, beets are great at reducing inflammation as well as providing you with plant compounds that increase blood flow to the brain.
When You Take Care of Your Body, You Take Care of Your Brain
If you want to improve your memory but you aren't exercising, then you should really change that. A mountain of scientific studies have conclusively proven that physical activity yields many brain health benefits. In some ways, exercise can start boosting your cognitive function in as little as a few minutes, and last for several hours. In other ways, The abundance of endorphins released during physical activity can increase brain size and enhance your overall brain health. The exercise doesn't have to be brutal or strenuous, either. you can get positive results simply by taking a brisk 20-minute walk each day.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you also need to get enough sleep to keep your brain healthy. Research shows that getting less sleep even one or two nights a week can reduce memory recollection, concentration, and overall cognitive function. Be sure to practice good sleep hygiene and engage in relaxing activities, such as reading, before bed instead of watching TV or sitting at your computer.
Use it or Lose It
Speaking of reading, the phrase "use it or lose it" is just as true for your brain as any other part of your body. If you stop learning or trying to remember new things, then your brain won't focus its energy resources on memory recollection. Brain stimulating activities such as reading, word puzzles, math games, and brain teasers are great for keeping your mind sharp and focused.
Of course, if you still want more help keeping your brain sharp and your memory sharper, there are many nootropic supplements on the market for you to choose from. You can shop online for your own supply, or you can take a look at some of our favorites here.