We’ve all been there: You start to address your colleague…and forget their name mid-sentence.
It’s embarrassing, and while you can certainly charm your way out of it, health coach and Arootah consultant, Tracey Powers, NBC-HWC, INHC, believes you shouldn’t have to experience this scenario to begin with. In fact, there’s a simple solution to your forgetfulness that doesn’t involve memory games or name tags; it’s all about changing what you’re eating.
By incorporating nutritional supplements and ingredients into your diet, you can improve your memory and brain health, Powers suggests. Here’s some creative and delicious inspiration you can use to boost your brain power.
Honor Your Gut Microbiome-Brain Axis
To begin improving your brain, you must eat a diet that supports your gut microbiome-brain axis health.
“The brain-gut axis is a bi-directional system between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract that links emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with the peripheral control and function of the gut,” explains Powers.
In other words, emotional and cognitive information from your brain travels to and impacts your microbiome (your “gut,” which plays host to millions of healthy bacteria).
Be Aware of What You Can Do to Help Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Western diets filled with high-saturated fats decrease memory and learning and trigger Alzheimer’s, says Powers. Researchers have determined that high-saturated fat diets impair hippocampus-dependent learning and memory in as few as three days, also contributing to metabolic syndrome and systemic inflammation as well as neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.
Research indicates that people with Alzheimer’s are four times as likely to have elevated homocysteine and low B12, and three times as likely to suffer from low folate, polyphenols, beta carotene, lutein, and other carotenoids. These individuals are also more likely to be deficient in the important nutritional elements of Vitamins C and E.
Learn About the Connection Between AGEs and Brain Inflammation
AGEs (advanced glycation end products) are proteins or fats that become glycated as a result of exposure to sugars. Glycation, a process in which sugar molecules attach themselves to fats and protein cells, can occur in:
- Cream cheese
- Certain hard cheeses
- Margarine, mayonnaise
- Fried eggs
- Red meat
Red meat is especially high in AGEs, particularly when barbecued, broiled, or deep fried. AGEs can cause damage to the brain, and they are biomarkers connected to aging and the development or worsening of degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Focus on What You Like to Eat—Not What You Need to Avoid
At the end of the day, you can prevent degenerative brain disease by adjusting your diet. But prevention doesn’t have to mean eating foods you dislike. Rather, you may find that focusing on what you can add to your diet is a more fun (and effective) route to prevention than simply trying to eliminate harmful foods. If you know what you need to eradicate and reduce from your diet, start by replacing those foods with your favorite alternative clean foods.
Then, simply moderate the favorite remaining high-saturated fats in your diet.
Choose Foods That Can Improve Brain Health
Here are some of Powers’ go-to foods you can use to improve your brain (and overall) health:
- Avocados: A healthy fat; the nutrients are important for your brain and skin and help stabilize blood sugar.
- Blueberries: High in antioxidants to protect your brain from neurodegeneration. Blueberries are packed with vitamins and contain fiber, which will reduce your net carbs.
- Broccoli: High levels of vitamin K and choline will help protect your brain. Add broccoli florets raw to your salad or steam your broccoli spears for three to four minutes to optimize the sulforaphane content.
- Celery: Extremely low in calories, but high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Bone broth: Heals your gut and reduces symptoms of leaky gut; this broth protects your brain from the increased inflammatory process that results from bacteria and food leaking into your bloodstream.
- Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil: Look for cold pressed extra virgin olive oil to boost your intake of polyphenols. These powerful antioxidants may improve your learning and memory as well as help reverse the signs of aging and neuron damage in your brain. Olive oil degrades rapidly at high heat, so add the oil to salads or vegetables after cooking.
- Walnuts: High in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. A handful of walnuts a day may help improve your cognitive skills. Eat them as a snack or as a complementary addition to your salad.
- Turmeric: One of the most powerful nutrients found in nature. Turmeric is a spice that gives curry a distinctive flavor, and the chemical curcumin in turmeric has antioxidant effects on your body.
- Rosemary: Protects your brain against free radical damage that triggers neurodegenerative changes. Add the herb to your favorite chicken recipe or spice up your salad with a few sprigs.
- Organic, pastured egg yolks: Research shows egg yolks aren’t actually bad for your health but are high in choline, which is necessary for fetal brain development.
- Coconut: This MCT (medium chain triglyceride) is one of the foundational foods you may use to feed your brain, reduce inflammation, and prevent memory loss. It does wonders for your skin and is a natural antibacterial as well.
- Beets: One of the most nutritious root vegetables you can include in your diet. Beets are flavorful on their own, raw or cooked, or combined into a very tasty beet, goat cheese, walnut, and leafy greens salad. They are high in antioxidants and the natural nitrates boost blood supply to your brain and improve blood flow.
- Green leafy vegetables: They slow dementia.
Habits and Supplements to Boost Brain Health
Consider incorporating these changes into your life to effortlessly improve your brain health:
- Change your cooking methods to include less saturated fat.
- Take supplements, including vitamin E, C, CoQ10, B12, and Folate.
- Try ginkgo extract to improve memory and cognition, behavior, and activities of daily living without side effects.
- Consider gotu kola (Centella Asiatica), a herb in the parsley family. It helps reduce inflammation and serves as an antioxidant.
- Limit high saturated fat foods to 12 grams per day. A fast-food cheeseburger will contain 9 grams of saturated fat, and 8 ounces of ice cream contains 5 grams. Your favorite foods can make the saturated fat in your diet add up quickly. (Alternatively, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, and fruit have very little saturated fat.)
- Obesity increases the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease six-fold. Therefore, weight loss may help improve cognitive function.
The Bottom Line
Optimizing your diet for brain health and clarity means you’ll have better cognitive function for years to come.
By making a handful of changes to your current diet, you could improve your memory, focus, and cognitive processing, while remembering that colleague’s name. (Phew).
If taking control of your brain health seems like a big undertaking, then get an expert in your corner. Our Arootah coaches can help you make changes and build habits that improve your overall well-being.
How do you take care of your brain health through nutrition? Share in the comments!