Your diet affects more than the number on the scale and your level of daily physical activity. Several nutrients and compounds, taken in through the daily diet, are essential to brain function, memory and learning ability. Adding key foods to your diet can help improve and maintain memory function, and might even fight brain diseases that affect your memory.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to heighten memory function, according to a study published in the April 2010 issue of the "Journal of Nutrition." In the report, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh say omega-3 fatty acids contribute to healthy early brain development and decrease the risks of poor brain function in later life. They enhance working memory and improve nonverbal reasoning, brain function and vocabulary. Foods high in omega-3s include fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines. For plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, reach for walnuts, flaxseeds, leafy greens, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and winter and summer squash.
Selenium is a mineral that the body needs in small amounts, but it plays a big role in the health of the body, including brain function. The National Institutes of Health reports that selenium helps make selenoproteins, which are important antioxidant compounds that help protect cells from damage. Selenium can affect brain function. An animal study, published in the July 24, 2009 issue of "Brain Research," reports that rats with Alzheimer's suffered damaging in areas of the brain required for learning and memory, but selenium improved brain function in both areas. Selenium-rich foods, include Brazil nuts, walnuts, tuna, beef, turkey, cod, eggs, oatmeal and rice.
Polyphenols are substances found in plants. They're responsible for giving fruits and plants their color, and act as powerful antioxidants. Polyphenols play an important role in brain function, according to a study published in the May 10, 2005 issue of the "American Journal of Physiology." The study reports that polyphenols from grapes can improve long-term and short-term memory. An additional study, published in the January 2009 issue of "Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care" reports a similar finding with polyphenols derived from berries. Study author Lauren M. Willis notes that polyphenols can build up in the brain over time, promoting brain cell communication and fighting brain cell aging.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Essential Fatty Acids
- Journal of Nutrition: Serum Phospholipid Docosahexaenonic Acid is Associated with Cognitive Functioning during middle adulthood
- NutritionalValue.org: Foods by Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Content
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Selenium
- Brain Research: Selenium Prevents Cognitive Decline and Oxidative Damage
- open walnut image by OMKAR A.V from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.