Foods to Boost Memory

It is greatly overlooked how much the foods we eat on a daily basis affects our cognitive function. Living a healthy lifestyle, like improving nutrition and engaging in an active lifestyle, can increase our cognitive function and keep our brains active and functioning properly. Some group B Vitamins, such as folic acid, cyanocobalamine and pyridoxine, as well as antioxidants like vitamin C, E, and Beta Carotene are essential for correct brain function (Requejo, 2003). Likewise, being deficient in these nutrients and having a diet high in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, has been shown to intensify cognitive decline.

Furthermore, Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, has been shown to help the brain function properly and efficiently. Studies have shown that long-term consumption of adequate DHA is linked to improved memory, improved learning ability and reduced rates of cognitive decline (Wolfram, 2017).

So what can we eat to boost memory?

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Avocados:

Not only do they taste delicious but they are high in the nutrients that are essential for healthy cognitive function. Avocados contain vitamin K and folate, as well as Vitamin B and Vitamin C. As stated above, these key nutrients are crucial in keeping he brain functioning normally. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps get rid of free radicals, while folate helps prevent blood clots.

Blueberries:

It is widely known that blueberries are high in antioxidants, like vitamin C and Vitamin K. As we know, these vitamins fight blood clots and free radicals. Similarly other dark berries, like blackberries and cherries have similar beneficial properties to boost memory function.

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Fish:

Fish such as salmon, Bluefin tuna and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and DHA. As previously stated, a diet with adequate DHA levels can help improve memory and improve cognitive function. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can consume Omega-3 fatty acids by eating algae, ground flax seeds, walnuts or chia seeds. Our bodies will naturally convert the Omega-3 fatty acids to DHA to support our brain.

Veggies:

Many vegetables, especially cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy greens, help improve memory. They contain high amounts of antioxidants, vitamin K and anti-inflammatory properties to help keep your brain working efficiently.

 

 

References

Requejo, A. M., Ortega, R. M., Robles, F., Navia, B., Faci, M., & Aparicio, A. (2003). Influence of nutrition on cognitive function in a group of elderly, independently living people. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57(S1). doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601816

Wolfram, T. (n.d.). Brain Health and Fish. Retrieved April 03, 2018, from https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-aging/brain-health-and-fish

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What are Adaptogens

Adaptogens are natural substances, like herbs, that work to regulate certain hormones and balance the body. They can help to increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors and promote normal physiologic function (Duke,1).  These herbs have been used for thousands of years for their natural health benefits, like boosting the immune system, restoring balance, managing weight, increasing physical endurance, as well as mental focus and mood.

Adaptogens grow in various environments, such as high altitude, rugged mountain regions, extreme cold, low oxygen and other stressful conditions. Many types grow in China, India, Korea, and Russia, while others are native to Europe and North America. Some are ready to harvest in a year, while others take years to mature to have the medicinal properties that they are used for.

4 Popular Adaptogens:

  1. Panax Ginseng: (AKA Asian Ginseng)
    Panax Ginseng grows in the mountainous forests of eastern Manchuria, northern China, and Korea. It is almost extinct in the wild. This type of adaptogen is used to improve calmness and memory performance. Some research states that it can help lower blood sugar levels.
  2. Astragalus:
    Astragalus is native to china and is grown in full sun and sandy soil with low nitrogen levels. It is used in Chinese medicine to decrease stress hormones and improve the stress response. It has also been shown to boost immunity. Many studies show that it can boost cortisol levels, allowing the body to respond better to types of stress. Today, it is commonly used for lack of appetite, organ prolapse, fatigue and wasting and thirsting syndrome. It is also used to enhance the immune system, preventing colds, and other illnesses.
  3. Cordyceps:
    Cordyceps is a type of fungus that grows on the Himalaya Mountains in Tibet and Bhutan. It is rare to find. They are high in antioxidants and contains immune-enhancing properties. It is now used to treat illnesses associated with the kidneys. It is also used to treat infertility in men and women, frequent urination, night sweats, dizziness and fatigue.
  4. Holy Basil:
    It is found throughout the lowlands of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Southern China and Malaysia. It is known for its antibacterial, antidepressant, antioxidant and antiviral properties. It is also a diuretic, and galactogogue.
References
Winston, D., & Maimes, S. (2007). Adaptogens: herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

 

Turmeric Benefits

Growing up, my father put turmeric on everything, from eggs to pasta. It was such a common spice in my household that I thought everyone used it as much as we did. Until I went away to college, I never realized how diverse this spice actually was. To my astonishment, none of my roommates have ever seen it in real life, let alone tasted it, and have only heard of it through social media. Now, it is one of the most popular spices as it is popping up everywhere for its abundant nutritious properties.

Turmeric is a yellow root that comes from the Curcuma longa plant. It has been used for over 4,000 years.  It grows in India and Southeast Asian countries. Turmeric contains a compound called curcuminoids and the active substance in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is a polyphenol that has many health benefits. The amount of curcumin in turmeric varies from species to species, growing conditions, and timing of growth and harvest.  Many studies look at the health benefits of curcumin itself instead of the whole turmeric. Turmeric has much more beneficial qualities than its popular active substance.

Health benefits of turmeric:

  • Inflammation: Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory substance. Chronic inflammation can stress the body, causing your body to age more quickly and lead to many health problems including a poor immune system. It causes wrinkles and forces your organs to not work as well as they should. Similarly, consuming turmeric daily can help reduce arthritis pain caused by inflammation.
  • Decreased cancer risk: Since the spice is a natural anti-inflammatory, it has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. It can halt the growth of blood vessels in tumors, reducing the risk of cancer spreading throughout the body.
  • Detoxifies the body: Turmeric has been shown to improve liver function and reduce toxicity in the body. The antioxidants in turmeric can remove toxic materials and reduce ailments in the liver.
  • Natural pain reliever: the curcuminoids in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, while curcumin is a natural pain reliever. It has been used for centuries as a topical agent; however, it does stain clothes and skin. It is also more effective when mixed with black pepper since the pepper helps your body absorb the curcumin.
  • Weight loss: curcumin has been shown to speed metabolism and aid digestion, while also detoxifying the body. It has also been shown to prevent fat accumulation in adipose tissue, reducing weight gain.

You can purchase turmeric in powder form, capsules, and tablets. It is ideal to look for products that state 95 percent curcuminoids. I use turmeric in my cooking rather than taking it in capsule or tablet form.  Turmeric root that is purchased from the grocery store can also be juiced or added to smoothies.  It goes great when sautéing onions and other vegetables.

The Nutritious Reality of Life

The thought of health and wellness seems to revolve around $30 dollar protein powders and even more expensive barre and anti-gravity yoga classes. Instagram stars give the impression that you have to live in a tropical dreamland with fresh fruit hanging from the trees and make the ultimate smoothie bowl to eat nutritiously. In reality, living a healthy life is pretty simple.

It is not about “clean eating” or finding your “swolemate,” it is about treating your body well so you can live a long, happy life. There are so many lifestyle choices we need to make every day to stay healthy and be happy.

  1. It is important to exercise. Exercising vigorously is not a necessity but it is important to get up and move every day. Working out has positive effects on your heart, mind, and metabolism. Just 30 minutes of walking each day can help lower your risk of heart problems.
  2. Drink more water! As stated in my previous post, water is very important for your body to function properly. Not only do our bodies consist of mostly water, but water can also help remove waste and carry nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.

 

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables! Not only can eating fruits and veggies give you more control over your weight, but they can make your skin clearer and brighter. It gives you a glow without pounds of makeup. Bright colored fruit and vegetables are full of antioxidants, helping to remove the free radicals in our bodies and remove toxins.
  2. Living in a healthy environment, to limit stress and clutter is also important. Organizing your home environment can help make your work, school and daily life less stressful. Knowing you do not have anything to do when you get home is a great way to help you live a longer, healthier life. Excess stress can lead to high blood pressure, bad eating habits and much more.
  3. You should try to be social. Hanging out with friends and family can help lower stress and make you happy. Many research studies show that you are at a greater risk of heart disease if you do not network with friends and family. Loneliness can not only cause depression, but it can be just as dangerous as smoking since it causes inflammation.
  4. Love yourself! I feel that the most important aspect of life is to accept yourself for who you are. You cannot change yourself, so it is important to accept your body and your personality. Confidence is the start to living happy and healthy.

The point I am trying to make is that you should focus on living a healthy lifestyle, instead of following a fad diet or what is trending on Instagram. Nutrition and living healthy are much easier than what they are made out to be.

Stress Reducing Foods

This time of the year always brings back a stressful, anxiety ridden feeling in my stomach. The weather getting cooler and the thought of school starting makes my stomach turn and my heart race. Although stress and anxiety are often associated with situations, there are many nutritional ways to relieve the tension. Making sure you consume a healthy diet with the proper amounts of folate, tryptophan and serotonin producing amino acids can help a lot during stressful situations.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a popular treat consumed to reduce stress and anxiety; however, it has actually been shown to relieve the tension. It contains antioxidants that trigger your blood vessels to relax. This lowers blood pressure and improves circulation. It decreases levels of stress hormones in your body.

Carbohydrates

When you’re stressed and your body needs a bowl of spaghetti, listen to it! Carbohydrates help the brain make serotonin. This is the same ingredient that is in anti-depressants. Make sure you choose complex carbs, like whole grains. Your blood sugar tends to spike when you are stressed and complex carbs won’t add to it.

Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids counteract the spike in anxiety hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. They can also help boost concentration and mood while benefitting the cardiovascular system. Salmon and avocados are high in omega 3s. The omega 3 fatty acids in salmon have been shown to improve the communication between nerve cells, reducing anxiety and depression.

Probiotics

As you know from my previous blogs, probiotics help with EVERYTHING! Having too many bad bacteria in the gut can contribute to anxiety and stress. Stress has been shown to inflame the gastrointestinal tract, interfering with the brains communication with the gut and making you more uncomfortable. So consume your probiotics in yogurt, kefir, or kombucha.

Nuts

Various types of nuts, especially pistachios, have been shown to lower blood pressure levels and reduce stress. They are high in B vitamins and healthy fats. Not only do they contain beneficial nutrients, but the act of cracking open a pistachio shell can keep you distracted and reduce stress.

Vitamin D

Grab a glass of milk when you’re stressed. Vitamin D boosts happiness. Many foods with vitamin d and calcium can help relax muscles and stabilize your mood. You can find vitamin d and calcium in salmon, egg yolks, fortified milk, and cereal.