We all have those “senior moments.” You know, the ones when we forget where we put our keys, we blank on a co-worker’s name, or we go into a room and then completely forget why we walked into that room in the first place.
These memory lapses are common. And for many of us, they seem to be getting worse as we’ve grown older. Luckily, there are some things we can do to lessen the lapses.
One of the biggest is to eat the right foods that can nourish your noggin.
So here’s an eating action plan to help you stay sharp.
Brainy breakfast: oatmeal with berries
Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts because it’s a complex carb that provides slow and steady fuel to the brain. Complex carbohydrates are converted to glucose, which is the main source of energy for our brains. Without glucose we have a hard time learning, remembering and focusing.
And, since your body breaks down the carbs in oatmeal slowly, they’ll supply a steady stream of glucose that will keep your mental muscles flexed for hours. That makes oatmeal a much better choice than, say, a sugar-laden cereal that will leave your brain feeling foggy by 10 a.m.
Throw some berries on the oatmeal for an extra dose of sharpness. Red and purple berries are full of antioxidants called anthocyanins, which help prevent chronic, low-grade inflammation.
And, maintaining a healthy inflammatory response plays a key role in cognitive health. If you’re a fan of blueberries, serve up a heaping scoop. Blueberries, in particular, have been shown to improve blood flow to the brain.1
In fact, a study published in the Annals of Neurology found that women who ate at least 1 cup of blueberries and strawberries a week experienced a significant delay in mental decline (2½ years!), compared to women who skipped the fruit.2
If you want to get a mega dose of these red and blue berries without the sugar, try our RealReds. It is power-packed with the brain-saving nutrients I mentioned above and will also help you reduce your waistline.
Lobe-lifter lunch: sliced turkey and tomato wrapped in greens
Turkey breast is a great choice for lean protein. And protein activates dopamine, a neurotransmitter (aka brain chemical) that helps to keep you alert and focused. Yes, alert and focused. (It’s a myth that turkey alone makes you sleepy. That drowsy feeling you get after a big holiday turkey dinner is mainly due to the carbohydrate overload from stuffing, potatoes and other carb-rich foods.)
Throw some sliced tomatoes on and you’ve got a great source of 2 stand-out carotenoids (brain-protecting plant nutrients): lycopene and beta-carotene, both of which help eliminate those pesky free radicals that do so much damage to the brain.
Wrap it all in a big leafy green and you’ve got yourself a great source of folate, a B vitamin that lowers the blood level of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been linked to memory loss.
Grey-matter dinner: wild salmon with a side of chickpeas and kale
I’ve talked a lot about the importance of omega-3 essential fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, which bolster communication among brain cells and help regulate neurotransmitters responsible for mental focus.
The data shows that in healthy adults, a higher intake of dietary omega-3 fatty acids boosts the so-called “executive functions” — that’s science speak for more focus, faster decision making and sharper memory — especially as we get older.3
Deep-water fatty fish, such as salmon (as well as albacore tuna and anchovies) are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Enjoying fatty fish a few times a week adds to your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. For example, a 3.5-ounce cooked serving of sockeye salmon contains about 7 grams of total fat, of which 1.5 grams are beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
One caveat … studies suggest the “sweet spot” where the optimal benefits occur is around 2.4 grams daily of omega-3s, especially EPA and DHA.
To be clear, this is not just 2.4 grams of fish oil; it is 2.4 grams of omega-3s per day.
I’ll tell you what you can do to get more in a minute, but let me tell you about why you should put chickpeas and kale on the side. Chickpeas are filled with fiber (about 6 grams per half-cup serving), and fiber slows the body’s absorption of sugars — preventing sharp insulin spikes. That, in turn, keeps the brain working at its peak.
Kale not only provides fiber (about 3 grams per cup, cooked), but is also a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin. Eating foods rich in these 2 tongue twisters is associated with better cognition as we age.4
Now, I told you that a portion of salmon doesn’t give you quite enough omega-3s, right?
That’s where RealDose Super Critical Omega-3 TG comes in.
While the majority of fish oil supplements on the market, when taken at the suggested dosage, are not concentrated enough to provide the amount of omega-3 fatty acids proven effective in human studies, that’s not the case with our formula.
Our fish oil provides you with 2.4 grams of omega-3s per day in the superior triglyceride (TG) form.
This offers you the best chance to experience the full range of benefits backed by human research studies.
Now, how’s that for a brain-building day?
Steve Sisskind, M.D.
Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.
As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.
Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?
I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.
I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!
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References:1. Rodriguez-Mateos A, Rendeiro C, Bergillos-Meca T, et al. Intake and time dependence of blueberry flavonoid-induced improvements in vascular function: a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study with mechanistic insights into biological activity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;98(5):1179-1191. PMID: 24004888.
2. Devore EE, Kang JH, Breteler MM, Grodstein F. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Ann Neurol. 2012;72(1):135-143. PMID: 22535616.
3. Witte AV, Kerti L, Hermannstädter HM, Fiebach JB, et al. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids improve brain function and structure in older adults. Cereb Cortex. 2013 Jun 24. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 23796946.
4. Johnson EJ, Vishwanathan R, Johnson MA, et al. Relationship between serum and brain carotenoids, α-tocopherol, and retinol concentrations and cognitive performance in the oldest old from the Georgia Centenarian Study. J Aging Res. 2013 Jun 9 [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 23840953.