With summer in full swing, it’s no wonder you get distracted at work by gazing longingly out the window. But thankfully there are foods you can snack on during the day to help keep daydreaming to a minimum. The next time you get the urge to eat junk food, opt for these healthful brain boosters instead.
Whole-Grain Cereal and Orange Juice
Start your day out right by eating whole grain cereal and drinking a glass of orange juice for breakfast; both are rich in folic acid (also known as folate), which has been shown to contribute to better memory and faster information processing. For midday munching, you can get folate from foods like soybeans, green peas, broccoli, and lentils.
Cauliflower and Peanuts
A recent study done by McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, suggests that taking a minimum of 500mg of citicoline supplements a day can help boost mental energy and efficacy. Citicoline, a natural substance found in all living cells, can also be ingested via cauliflower and peanuts—both are sources of choline, which is converted to citicoline in the brain.
Broccoli, Sprouts, and Spinach
When ordering your salad at lunchtime, be sure to include these veggies; a 25-year Harvard Medical School study of more than 13,000 women showed that participants who ate cruciferous and leafy greens retained their memory best. The more you eat of these vegetables, the better!
Berries, Grapes, and Plums
In terms of fruit, berries have some of the highest concentrations of antioxidants. Plus, they’re packed with anthocyanin, a phytochemical that may help reverse age-related memory loss and protect against the breakdown of brain cells. Quercetin, another phytochemical, produces similarly beneficial results. Blueberries, red apples, and darker-colored grapes (red, black, and purple) are superpowerful, as they contain both of these flavonoids.
Salmon and Sardines
Numerous studies have revealed the memory-boosting properties of omega-3 fatty acid and certain fish—namely salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring—are full of omega-3s. Eating these kinds of fish at least once a week will keep you thinking younger—three years younger, to be precise (a study by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that men and women who ate fish at this frequency had memory functions equivalent to a person three years their junior). Not a fan of fish? Consider taking fish-oil supplements instead.
While there is no fountain of youth for the brain, neuroscience provides evidence for the next best thing. There are lots of things you can do right now to preserve, protect and enhance your gray matter. One hint: If you're already a devotee of a heart-healthy lifestyle, you're way ahead of the game. What's good for the heart is probably good for your head. That's twice the motivation and payoff.
1. Foods for thought—and memory.
We are what we eat, the old adage goes. When it comes to brain fitness, eating certain types of food can improve and preserve our sharp-as-a-tack selves.
The strategy: Keep unhealthy fats to a minimum (no more than 20 percent of calories). Sticking to a Mediterranean style diet—lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, a minimum of red meat, plenty of fish, daily wine—is paramount.
Research shows cellular stress caused by oxidation can lead to cognitive declines. Choose dark-colored fruits and vegetables, including apricots, cantaloupes, watermelon, mangos, kale, chard, spinach and broccoli. Eating these foods increases the production of acetylcholine, a vital chemical released from nerve cells that improves communication between cells.
Salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and herring also give your brain a boost. What's key about these types of fish is their omega-3 fatty acids, specifically one called DHA, which is an essential component of neural cell membranes that helps to transmit information into and out of those membranes.
Brains are made up of about 60 percent fat, but the fuel they rely on is glucose, a simple sugar. To give your brain ample energy, eat complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta and couscous. Whole grains are superior because they break down more slowly and don't cause big upswings in insulin production, which can cause a number of health problems associated with poor mental performance.
2. Supplemental strategy.
Because few among us consume sufficient quantities of healthful foods—how many eat sardines or even salmon three times a week?—most people need dietary supplements to ensure optimum mental function. Make sure your high-potency multivitamin has a sufficient amount of the substances your brain needs most to stay in top shape (or buy additional supplements). Among them:
A member of the B vitamin group, this nutrient is found naturally in legumes, kidneys, oranges and leafy green vegetables. Few Americans get enough in their diet, so make sure your intake is at least the recommended daily dose of 400 micrograms. One recent study showed that this level of folate provides a 55 percent reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Another study found that people who took 800 micrograms a day did significantly better on memory tests.
Other B vitamins:
Vitamins B6 and B12 are believed to be involved in the formation of the sheaths around nerve cells that contribute to communication between these cells. People with Alzheimer's often have reduced levels of B vitamins.
Vitamins C and E together:
A Johns Hopkins University study published in 2004 demonstrated that subjects who had the highest levels of these two antioxidants had a greatly reduced chance of contracting Alzheimer's. The most effective doses were 400 to 1,000 International Units of vitamin E, and 500 to 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C.
Eat at least two servings of tuna, salmon or sardines a week, but consider taking a supplement, too. Though there's no recommended amount, most fish oil pills provide plenty. Make sure that a third party has verified the oil is free from contaminants, such as mercury.
3. Drinking and thinking.
Sip, don't guzzle, and ask for pinot noir.
Alcohol kills brain cells, and the more you drink the more brain cells are destroyed. So it's a no-brainer to keep your consumption in check—no more than a couple of drinks per day for a man or one drink for a woman.
In these amounts, alcohol in any form—beer, wine or spirits—is beneficial to the brain. But if you're striving for optimum brain health, red wine should be your drink of choice. That's because it contains an abundance of a potent antioxidant called resveratrol, a type of polyphenol.
Resveratrol, also found in berries and peanuts, is a compound produced by plants to ward off disease, in response to such stressors as fungus invasions, injury or infection. Reportedly, the wines with the most resveratrol are those made from pinot noir grapes. White wines, by contrast, contain less than 5 percent of the average amount of resveratrol found in red wines.
One recent study presented convincing evidence that resveratrol prevents the buildup of plaques in the brain that snarl intercellular communication. These plaques are a signature of Alzheimer's disease. So in addition to reducing the risk for cancer and heart disease, red wine may also slow (but probably not prevent) the degeneration of neural processes. To your health!
4. Fitting the pill—aspirin and ibuprofen.
The daily use of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory—aspirin and ibuprofen are two of the most common—is considered by some researchers as a promising therapy for keeping the brain healthy in certain groups of older people. But they're not for everyone.
Evidence for the brain benefits of aspirin and ibuprofen comes from arthritis studies of people who regularly take significant doses of anti-inflammatory drugs. Researchers found an unanticipated effect: a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer's.
One study from the Netherlands, published in 2001, tracked 7,000 people for almost seven years. None had dementia at the start of the study. At the end, those who hadn't regularly taken an anti-inflammatory were six times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those who had.
Chronic inflammation is known to damage nerve tissues, and examinations of the brains of people with Alzheimer's have shown large areas of inflammation. So there appears to be a correlation between inflammation and dementia, though no one knows if the former causes the latter.
While anti-inflammatories may be useful in maintaining brain health, it's too early to recommend their wholesale use. More research needs to be done. Doctors now advise daily aspirin therapy for people at high risk for heart disease, to prevent clotting that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. But serious side affects, such as bleeding ulcers and interference with other medications, can occur. Before starting such a program, you must discuss the pros and cons with your doctor.
5. Minding your meditation.
You don't have to join a monastery or hire a guru to reap the substantial rewards of daily meditation. As little as 15 minutes a day may be enough—whether it's sitting in the car waiting to pick up your child from school or in a quiet room at lunchtime.
For several years now, western doctors have extolled the virtues of meditation in treating a number of medical conditions, including chronic pain and high blood pressure. The evidence for its effectiveness comes from several studies, including one showing that people with normal to high blood pressure who practiced daily meditation were 23 percent less likely to die—from any cause—than those who didn’t. Amazingly, meditation was more effective at preventing death than other more conventional non-drug therapies, such as exercise, weight loss and salt restriction.
Besides counteracting the kinds of cardiovascular ailments that can lead to poor brain function, meditation may also reduce levels of the stress hormone called cortisol. This chemical can wreak havoc with cognitive abilities such as memory recall.
But that's not all. A group of U.S. researchers recently found an association between meditation and an increase in the thickness of the cortex, the part of the brain that handles a variety of higher functions. This growth in density suggests that meditation, performed regularly, may put the brakes on the natural thinning of the cortex that takes place as we age.
6. Get on the laugh track.
It's long been said that laughter is the best medicine, and science keeps reaffirming the concept. Laughter reduces the stress hormone cortisol in your body; it relaxes your arteries so that cholesterol is less likely to build up; and it even engages you in a bit of exercise (belly laughs activate hundreds of muscles throughout your body).
In one study, scientists at the University of Maryland performed an experiment in which subjects watched either a violent war film or a comedy. Before and after the film, the blood flow through the subjects' arteries was carefully measured. Increased flow, called vasodilation, is considered healthful, as it minimizes or prevents blockages that can cause heart attacks or strokes. Those who watched the stress-inducing war film had their blood flow rate drop by an average of 35 percent. But in the comedy-watching group, blood flow increased by 22 percent.
This expansion in flow is equivalent to what you'd expect to find in someone who's exercised for about 30 minutes, the researchers reported. Scientists believe laughter may release endorphins, the "feel good" hormones associated with rigorous exercise. These hormones are known to cause blood vessel dilation.
So laugh. It's a balm to your brain.
7. Social studies.
All primates, including humans, are highly social animals. In a sense, our brains have spent a couple of million years fine-tuning themselves to the nuances of social interactions, because that’s been a lynchpin of survival. But modern society has turned many of us into near-hermits. And that's not only unnatural, it's unhealthy for the brain.
For one thing, isolation can cause depression, which the Alzheimer's Foundation of America says leads to higher rates of dementia. Not only do people with wide social networks report a higher quality of life, they also have lower death rates. One large-scale study observed significantly less mental decline in people who had the strongest relationships with others.
Relationships stimulate our brains. "There's a lot of evidence that other people are the most unpredictable things you can encounter," says Duke neurobiologist Lawrence Katz. "So activities that have you engaging with other human beings are a fantastic form of brain exercise."
There are dozens of ways to engage with folks. Volunteer at a charity or organization. Join a book club, bowling league, or any group dedicated to being actively engaged. And don't forget that pets, especially the highly social dog, can serve some of the same functions as humans in stimulating our minds and relieving stress.
8. You snooze, you win.
Although scientists still puzzle over why sleep is necessary, one thing is certain: We cannot survive more than a few weeks without it. When we are denied good, restful, sustained sleep on a regular basis, our brains falter in concentration, learning, memory and alertness. That's no matter how much coffee you might guzzle.
The best explanation science has come up with for the healing power of sleep is that brain cells use the "time out" to close down and repair damage. Without sufficient sleep, neurons may not have time to repair all the damage, and so could malfunction during the day. Sleep also may give the brain a chance to perform a workout of sorts among important neuronal connections that might go dormant, explain researchers. Imagine exercising your brain while lying in bed dreaming. What could be better?
Most adults require seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
If you have trouble sleeping, here are a few tips:
Don't eat a heavy meal late in the day.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day.
Get regular exercise, but not close to bedtime.
If you can't fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night, get up and read or watch TV until you feel drowsy.
If you lie awake worrying about things, make a to-do list before going to bed.
9. Jumping jacks for the brain?
Well, sort of. By stimulating your mind, you may be able to improve cognitive function, and perhaps delay or even prevent mental disorders such as dementia.
Scores of large-scale studies have shown that brain training works. The trouble begins when we fall into routines that seldom challenge our mental faculties. We may be masters at what we do, but we aren't learning new things. And that seems to be key.
The mind, according to neuroscientists, is a machine that thrives on learning. "The brain requires active continuous learning," Michael Merzenich, a neurobiologist at University of California, San Francisco, said in an interview with the AARP. "It requires change, and that change requires that you acquire new skills and abilities, new hobbies and activities that require the brain to remodel itself."
What kind of activity is best? Scientists aren't sure yet, but agree that anything that expands your knowledge will be effective. The emphasis is on new, as in learning a new language, dance step or sport (the more social the setting the better, as this increases the effect due to the brain benefits of human interaction). Or read a new book or do crossword or sudoku puzzles (which constantly expose you to new information). All these activities build more connections between neural cells, which recent research indicates may even forestall dementia and Alzheimer's.
10. Pump up the hippocampus.
How can a rousing, sweat-inducing physical workout benefit your grey matter? By improving blood flow, releasing stress-reducing endorphins, strengthening the connections between brain cells and increasing the number of brain cells themselves. That's just for starters.
Regular, cardiovascular exercise—the kind that sends your heart rate up, like walking, bicycling, swimming or even aerobic gardening or house cleaning—is a powerhouse of benefit for both your heart and brain.
Studies of fit people show that their attention and concentration are superior to those who don't exercise. And that their gray matter is thicker, suggesting that exercise could protect against the natural decline of mental faculties as we age.
One part of the brain that's known to be directly influenced by exercise is called the hippocampus. It's sort of a "clearing house" for the brain, deciding which information sent to it by the senses gets stored away into memory, and then retrieving it when necessary. It's vital for learning and making associations. Research has shown that physical exercise stimulates the production of new brain cells, called neurons, in the hippocampus.
Exercise is almost too good to be true as a tonic for the brain. As neurobiologist Carl Cotman told the AARP: "It's sort of surprising to think about. You're literally building the structure of the brain, just by moving your feet."
11. Learn the word "neurobics."
A melding of the words "neuron" (brain cell) and "aerobics," neurobics is the brainchild of the Duke University neurobiologist Lawrence Katz and author Manning Rubin. In the book Keep Your Brain Alive (Workman Publishing, 1998), they outline an unusual brain exercise program that's based on a solid foundation of neuroscience research. Specific kinds of sensory stimulation, they believe, causes brain cells to secrete molecules called neurotrophins that act like nutrients to improve cellular health.
What's the best sort of stimulation? Katz and Rubin offer 83 activities that make you "experience the unexpected and enlist the aid of all your senses." Try showering with your eyes closed, tuning in to the sounds and feel of water on your skin. Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth or comb your hair. Wear earplugs at the dinner table. Take one of your children to work with you. Learn to read Braille.
What's important is that the activity be completely removed from your regular routine. And the more senses you engage, the better. If you normally go to work using the same route, try a different one. At a stop light, roll down the window and close your eyes, listening to the sounds, feeling the air on your face. Your brain is forced to work with a new set of sensory inputs, which builds connections in your neuronal network.
Humans are hardwired to seek novelty, yet in our tame modern environment, that’s more difficult to do. By consciously exposing your brain to novel situations, it responds like a long underused muscle to a weight training program: It grows!
Scott McCredie is a Seattle-based health writer and author of the book Balance: In Search of a Lost Sense.
Has your memory been slipping you lately? When the wife keeps asking you to take out the trash, is it not registering for you? Well, a brain boost may be in order for you. One of the best ways to stay healthy and fight an aging mind is to reach for foods loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that feed and nurture the brain.
Here are a few foods for thought:
Fish Omega 3's
Studies show people who eat a diet rich in omega-3 maintain better brain capacity, concentration and alertness.
Try: Wild Alaskan salmon. It is loaded with omega-3 and also delivers a good dose of essential brain nutrients like Vitamin B and selenium. Try eggs fortified with omega-3 if fish is not your cup of tea. Opt for three servings a week
Dark vegetables contain their fair share of antioxidants and which help to protect the brain from cell damage. High antioxidant levels are essential to maintaining good memory and cognition.
Try: Spinach broccoli, and beans all great foods for your brain.
Yes chocolate. Before you attack your candy bar stash, think again. The cacao bean is the ultimate source of nutrients. Candy bars found on the market contain high sugar, milk, corn syrup contents equaling little or no health benefits.
Try: Buy chocolate with 75% or higher cacao content and for the best option chocolate with 85% (or higher). For a quick healthy chocolate fix, buy quality 100% organic non alkaline cocoa powder and add to your favorite drinks for a quick dose of brain power.
Acai berries and blueberries
Blueberries: research shows diets rich in blueberries help to improve learning capacity and motor skills, rejuvenation for your mind. Brain boosting research shows diets rich in blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the potential risks for age related diseases such as dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.
Acai: a South American berry has all the antioxidants present in the powerhouse blueberry but surprising also contains omega-3 fatty acids and is also rich in protein. Although not as readily available like blueberries, fresh acai berries are a great brain booster.
New research shows grape juice helps to significantly improve short term memory and motor skills. In fact, grapes are ranked as one of the highest antioxidant activity sources. There has also been a connection drawn between a low consumption of red wine and lower incidences of Alzheimer's disease.
Brown Rice is loaded with magnesium and other brain boosting vitamins which are essential in supporting good cognitive health. Switching from white rice to brown will be good for the mind and the body.
Brain Boosting Foods that Help Improve Cognitive Function
Is it possible that the food you eat can make you smarter? Food scientists have proven that it is possible food can play a big part in cognitive function, increasing brain power as well as slowing or holding off forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. The solution is adding certain foods with key nutritional components. Pairing these foods with daily mental challenges and exercises that boost oxygen levels help maintain healthy cells and reduce inflammation in the brain that can cause cognitive impairment.
If you have been forgetting small things such as where you put your keys or glasses, your diet can help. Certain food and drink can help boost your attention span and increase your capacity to learn. You will become smarter and feel more in tune with yourself too. Here are some brain boosting foods you should incorporate into your diet plan:
Fish High in Fatty Acids
Fatty fish, particularly those high in omega-3 fatty acids, not only help lower your cholesterol, they also boost brain function. The fatty acids protect the cell membranes and help improve the signal transmissions between cells in the brain. Tuna, salmon and mackerel are just a few fishy examples. Be wise and choose tuna fish recipe to help improve and achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Eat Foods High in Vitamin E
There are a number of foods with vitamin E but a small handful is quite beneficial in protecting you against dementia conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Foods high in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) such as seeds, nuts, olive oil and avocados are also the best sources for vitamin E.
Indian and Thai food often uses a spice called curry to provide a pungent heat to their cuisine. Curry contains an ingredient called curcumin which works to inhibit certain proteins in the brain which create plaque build-up that causes Alzheimer’s disease. Curry also helps fight inflammation not only in the brain but elsewhere in the body.
Go Green with your Veggies
Dark green salads, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli and brussel sprouts are just a few of many dark green leafy vegetables and cruciferous choices that are chockfull of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. They also contain carotenoids, special compounds that protect your brain cells and receptors. The antioxidants work to clear away the waste in your brain caused by free radicals that build up.
Rich Colored Berries
Antioxidants are quite prevalent in virtually all berries, particularly the dark colored ones such as blueberries, blackberries and red strawberries. There are other compounds too that work to build and maintain the communication receptors between each brain cell.
Add More Flavanoids
Chocolate with at least 70% cocoa contains one of the most beneficial antioxidants for your brain. Dark chocolate has compounds called flavonoids which boost brain health. Other foods rich in flavonoids include dark beer, red wine, dark colored grapes, onions and even apples. A side benefit of flavonoids is they effectively help lower blood pressure as well.
And Finally – Whole Grains
The fiber rich whole grains of wheat, oatmeal and brown rice regulate the glucose levels in your blood. Since glucose fuels the brain, it is important to keep the levels steady to maintain concentration and boost thought processes. When you eat simple carbs like sugar, you will feel an initial rush which can temporarily help your brain but when sugar levels come down, you “crash” and end up losing concentration and feel tired.
Don't you just love it when you're thinking clearly and everything just comes together - you feel on top of the world! Would you like to feel like this more often? Well, chances are that you can if you eat more of these brain boosting foods which are packed with nutrients that have been shown to help increase brain function not to mention boost your immune system and help with your overall health.
You love them in guacamole, but did you know that avocados can aid in healthy blood flow and may even help to lower blood pressure as well as play a role in preventing strokes? Sure, they are quite fatty but it's the good fat that's helpful to your body not harmful. But you don't have to stock up on guacamole to get enough of them, avocados taste good on lots of things - put them in salads or combine them with tomatoes in between two slices of toast for a delicious and filling sandwich.
It's no news that blueberries are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, but studies show that eating them can help reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. These power packed berries can also help your brain deal with stress as well as improve learning capacity and motor skills.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish such as mackerel and salmon are good to eat for host of healthy reasons and one of these includes healthy brain function.
Seeds and Nuts
Vitamin E has been shown to improve declining cognitive functions which happened so often with aging and what better way to get vitamin E then by eating nuts and seeds! To get your best bang for the Buck choose sunflower seeds, cashews, sesame seeds, almonds or peanuts.
Tea seems to be the superfood of the century and with many good reasons as it is filled with powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants can help boost your immune system but they can also help increase blood flow which is vital to get oxygen to the brain and a key to good brain function.
Brown rice, oatmeal and foods made with 100% whole wheat flour can also help increase the blood flow which can help give your brain oxygen it needs to be at peak performance. They also help supply the brain with glucose, something your brain needs for clear functioning. Whole grains are better than refined grains like white rice and white flour as they do not have the vital nutrients stripped out.
Chocolate lovers will be happy to know that dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and also has natural stimulants which can help boost your concentration and focus. In addition it revs up the production of endorphins which help elevate your mood. But not any chocolate will do, you need to buy a good quality dark chocolate that has only 70% cocoa.
So there you have it, seven great foods that can help boost brain function and that taste great too!
High in antioxidants, they are rich in Vitamins C and vitamin E. Now antioxidants play a key role in fighting the damaging effects of free radicals.
When free radicals are out of control in our bodies, then all-sorts of health problems arise, such as chronic diseases, accelarated aging, cancers etc. Now blueberries have a high ORAC rating, and you will see that they are a potent free radical fighter. Also in laboratory tests, where rats were fed blueberries, they experienced slowed rates of age-related loss in mental capacity.
Generally a very common item when you shop, let's face it eggs are used extensively in all sorts of cooking however, eggs contain several nutrients that are believed to be good for your brain and good for your body too.
The first nutrient is... selenium. Now, not only does selenium act as a powerful antioxidant but it also believed to boost brain health and also strengthen the immune system.
Choline is another impotant nutrient found in egg yolks, and it plays a vital role in helping healthy cell membranes along with its ability to help mental function and memory.
Choline is especially important for children under seven because their grey matter is in the early stages of development. A little warning though, eggs are high in cholesterol, so be careful.
Eggs also contain Vitamin A, which is important for good night vision and healthy skin.
Two of the B vitamins that are associated with helping energy production in the body are Vitamin E (also found in blueberries), Folate (important for the prevention of birth defects) and riboflavin.
Now mustard contains an amazing nutrient called turmeric (Curcuma longa) which is also an antioxidant. This is believed to stimulate your immune system. There are many health benefits associated with a healthier immune system such as dealing with allergies, inflammation, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes and heart disease.
Along with other oily fish are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. These acids contain DHA, which helps the brain transmit signals. Memory loss can result if there are low levels of DHA, even things like lack of concentration, mood disturbances, depression, schizophrenia and autism.
Salmon is high in the essential vitamins A, E, D and C and important minerals such as zinc, iron, calcium and selenium.
5. Kale (Brassica oleracea).
Now here is a real nutritional powerhouse. It contains Carotenoids and flavonoids which help to slow mental decline associated with aging and help reduce your risk for cataracts.
Kale is also an excellent source of Vitamin C too. Just one daily portion provides a massive 89% of your daily vitamin C requirement!
Any More Brain Boosting Foods?
Strawberries in particular, contain a flavenoid called fisetin which can improve memory however blueberries are still the best choice for aging grey matter.
7. Freshly-Ground Coffee Beans
They are also rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids. Recent studies have shown coffee drinking on a regular basis, can reduce the risk of dementia. And research in South Korea found it can even slow the growth of brain tumours.
Yes, go nuts! Because they contain lots of brain-healthy vitamin E, believed to help prevent memory loss due to aging.
Walnuts are a great choice because, like salmon, they are also packed with omega-3.
Cashews are another good one as they are rich in magnesium which has the ability to allow more oxygen into the brain's blood cells.
Peanuts a worth a mention as they also contain grey matter-boosting choline (found in egg yolk).
If possible, try and opt for the un-salted variety of nuts, as too much salt can raise your blood pressure. Also nuts can be fattening, so don't over-do it.
Walk into a room and forget why you're there? Forget already what this article's about? Make sure you're eating a diet rich in a mix of wholegrain foods such as cereals, wheatbran, wheatgerm and wholewheat pasta. One study found that women who increased their folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 intake showed an improvement in recalling information compared to women who were not taking a supplement.
2. Enjoy oily fish
The essential omega-3 fatty acids - found in oily fish, as well as fish oil, walnut oil and flaxseeds (linseeds) - are high in DHA, fatty acid crucial to the health of our nervous system. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. Fish also contains iodine, which is known to improve mental clarity.
3. Binge on blueberries
Research from Tufts University in the United States and published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that blueberry extract can improve short term memory loss. Widely available, so there's no excuse!
4. Eat more tomatoes
There is good evidence to suggest that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's.
5. Add vitality with vitamins
Folic acid and vitamin B12 help prevent homocysteine from building up in the body - levels of which have been found to be higher in people who have Alzheimer's.
Fortified cereals are a great source of B12 and also contain complex carbohydrates which release energy over a long period and will keep you more mentally alert throughout the day.
6. Get a blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) boost
Vitamin C has long been thought to have the power to increase mental agility. One of the best sources of this vital vitamin is blackcurrants.
7. Pick up pumpkin seeds
Just a handful a day is all you need to get your recommended daily amount of zinc, vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills.
8. Bet on broccoli
A great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.
9. Sprinkle on sage (Salvia officinalis)
Sage has long had a reputation for improving memory and although most studies focus on sage as an essential oil, it could be worth adding fresh sage to your diet, too.
10. Go nuts
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that a good intake of vitamin E might help to prevent poor memory. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E along with leafy green vegetables, seeds, eggs, brown rice and wholegrains.