The human brain is like a hard drive on a computer: the fuller it gets, the less it can hold. No wonder that memory loss tends to be a common side effect experienced with aging. These memory deficits don’t only apply to the senior citizen population–increasingly they are becoming more common in those of a younger generation. These cognitive delays are often experienced in the following areas:
- Attention – As people age, they find it more difficult to concentrate, and that is because of deficits in attention that occur as the brain ages. Hence the reason why it is so common for older people to become easily distracted.
- Short-Term Memory – Also known as working memory, this brain function is commonly affected with age. A deficit in short-term memory results in the inability to retain new information for long periods of time.
- Long-Term Memory – The part of the brain that has held onto information for a long period of time can also be affected with age. This memory loss can make it difficult to recall things like phone numbers, directions to familiar places, and names of people that you have known for a long time.
- Information-Processing Speed – The manner in which you think, act, and react can also be affected with age. It may take longer to react to something that someone says, or even to step on the brakes when a car stops in front of you.
While getting older doesn’t mean that you are automatically going to experience a decrease in your memory and cognitive ability, the aging process is a natural part of life, and does often result in decreased mental clarity. Just how your brain is affected depends on numerous things – your health, both physically and mentally, how often you challenge your brain, and the diet you follow. It is so important to constantly give your brain new challenges, and this determines how fast you process information. You can also expose yourself to new and different situations. This gives your brain the opportunity to process and retain information more successfully.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can make sure your mind stays sharp, focused, and alert as you get older. Consuming foods that are rich in specific nutrients will help to power the brain and keep it fit as you get on in years.At the Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegenerative Research at the University of Massachusetts has found that nutrients like alpha-lipoic acid, DHA, phosphatidylserine, and L-carnitine can help the brain retain its ability to both process and hold onto information. Thus, eating a diet that is rich with foods that contain these nutrients will help to increase your memories ability to function.
Here are some foods that are high in these key nutrients and that you should make a part of your regular diet:
Dairy products are beneficial for improving mental health in that they are a great source of acetyl L-carnitine. This means that the cells in your brain will stay oxygenated and will be able to perform better. As you age, these cells naturally slow down and do not work as well, so it’s important to include a healthy amount of dairy products in your diet. This includes things like cheese, milk, and yogurt.
Spinach is gaining popularity in the health world, and this popularity is well-deserved. Because of its high vitamin-B content, your ability to retain information and recall things short-term increases. Spinach is also high in alpha-lipoic acid, which improves spatial memory and temporary memory, and slows down the aging process of cells in the brain. For the most benefits, consider including a spinach salad into your dinner at least three times a week.
Fish, especially wild salmon, is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are vital to the function and development of the brain. These fatty acids help to reduce the effects of dementia and, as well as helping to boost the memory.
Eating fish twice a week will give your brain the most benefits.
Even better, fatty fish is extremely high in phosphatidylserine, which works as an antioxidant, helps cells communicate better, and aids in more effective processing of nutrients in the brain. Naturally, all these things lead to a healthier brain.
For senior citizens looking to help their brain stay sharp and their memory focused, introduce these foods into your diet and let them stick around. And if you’re yet middle aged, and your senior years haven’t crept up on you yet, start consuming these foods now! It’s never too early to start developing a sharper brain. And doing so now will help you years down the line. So begin today, because a healthy brain is invaluable, and anything you can do to improve upon it is vital.
More about the author: Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in Southern California. Her writings cover everything from health to technology to beauty, and she enjoys researching foods that are helpful for extra brain power. She contributes health content to the Presidio Home Care blog, where you can read more of her work here. Follow her on Twitter for more great tips!
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