By Aditya Shukla, psychologist, author
plants, grains, and fruits (flavonoids)
fewer sugars, carbs, and fats
Vitamin B-6, B-12, Omega-3, and Folate/Folic acid
Flavonoids are present in fruits, veggies, roots, wine, tea, stems, and grains. Dietary flavonoids can enhance memory function by protecting vulnerable neurons. Flavonoids (a metabolite) promote the growth of neurotrophins which are involved in Long-term Potentiation. It is the mechanism by which our brain stores memories.
A high fiber diet can potentially help neurons regenerate and counter degeneration. Our gut microbiome can produce a helpful chemical called Butyrate that promotes neurogenesis by fermenting carbohydrates when we consume fiber-rich foods like strawberries, carrots, avocadoes, apples, bananas, lentils, and kidney beans.
Soya-based foods show promising boosts to long-term and short-term memory. However, soya might not enhance other aspects of cognition like attention and mental flexibility.
Sugar-rich high-calorie foods are not only a cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes but also a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Limiting processed sugars and calorie control can reduce this risk. High cholesterol and saturated fat can impair memory. A high-fat diet and refined carbs can directly and indirectly via obesity impair brain function.
Folic acid is important for episodic memory and slowing down memory decline. Vitamin B-12 & B-6 are also important to maintain cognitive functioning. Omega 3 fatty acids which are typically found in fish (also a popular supplement) may improve memory in people with memory complaints as well as healthy older adults.