There’s nothing wrong with occasionally treating yourself to some guilty food pleasures. However, research shows that not only does food affect the way we feel, but it can also affect our memory. “Diets high in cholesterol and fat might speed up the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. These sticky protein clusters are blamed for much of the damage that occurs in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.” In this article, our Tapestries memory care team in South Jersey will take a closer look at the strong link between memory and diet and explain how older adults can make lifestyle changes that could help maximize and strengthen cognitive function now.
The Diet and Memory Connection
Diets high in inflammatory foods like sugar, refined carbs, unhealthy fats, and processed foods can cause cognitive impairment, as well as increase your risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. A study published in the journal, “Annals of Neurology,” shows that women who ate the most saturated fats, like red meat and butter, performed worse on thinking and memory tests than women who ate the lowest amount of fats. While the exact reason for this connection is unclear, it indicates what you eat can directly affect your memory.
Foods For Memory
Luckily, there are foods that can be beneficial for our memory. Specifically, the Mediterranean diet has a few components that might promote brain health. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil can improve the health of blood vessels, which can reduce the risk of a memory-damaging stroke. Fish is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which has been linked to lower levels of beta-amyloid proteins in the blood, those sticky protein clusters we mentioned earlier that cause brain damage in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Foods to Avoid
We’ve gone over the general types of food to avoid a few times now, but we’ll be very specific so you know exactly what to look out for. When we say to avoid sugar, we aren’t talking about fruit. We are talking about artificial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and aspartame, which are found in many “sugar free” advertised products. Refined carbohydrates, like highly processed white flour, are the next food to avoid. These refined carbs quickly become sugar as we digest them and don’t provide any nutrients. Saturated fats and trans fats are another cause for concern, which means it’s best to avoid vegetable oils, butter, and processed “ready-made” meals or snacks. These foods are high in calories, preservatives and low in nutrients. Another “big no-no ” is alcohol. While it’s fine to have a glass of wine once in a while, you want to limit your overall consumption. Alcohol is very high in sugar, it can affect your neurotransmitters in your brain, create vitamin deficiency, etc… The list of disadvantages goes on.
The Bottom Line
The common saying, “You are what you eat,” feels appropriate here. The foods you eat have a large impact on your mental and physical well-being, so make conscious choices to eat healthier. If you reside at a progressive senior community or are looking to make the move soon, they should have dining services and health professionals onsite to help cultivate a nutrition plan that works for you.
At UMC at The Shores, our Tapestries memory care program is educated on the most up to date practices for memory care. Our Tapestries residents are able to live an abundant life with us, while receiving the care and engagement they need.
If you are interested in memory care for your loved one, or you’d like to be in a senior living space that offers this service just in case your needs change, please visit our website to schedule a tour: https://umcommunities.org/theshores/
This blog was originally published at https://umcommunities.org/theshores/blog/improve-your-memory-by-improving-your-diet/