Tag Archives: Memory

Foods That Promote Memory and Longevity

In 1935, Woody Allen  said, “You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be one hundred.”  This is true to some extent.  We have all heard stories of octogenarians who claim to have smoked a cigarette every day of their lives or have engaged in some kind of dangerous taboo and have beaten the odds.  However, nowadays we find that there is an alternative.  More modern studies reveal that we can eat  foods that are enjoyable and will also promote longevity and  boost our memories.

Dark chocolate

A favorite among these is dark chocolate.  According to recent studies, this awful temptress that our mothers warned us about, is really quite good for us.  You may already be aware  that dark chocolate can lower cholesterol, improve brain function, and prevent cardiovascular disease, but did you know it may also  protect your skin against the sun?   And, take heart if you are struggling with your weight.  The fats in dark chocolate are mostly saturated and unsaturated, giving it an excellent fatty acid profile, although it still is best consumed in small amounts because of its high-calorie content and sugar.  But, keep in mind, if you do indulge, the higher the cocoa content, the more beneficial to your health.

Mediterranean diet

But what about memory loss?  Over 5.2 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.  Is it preventable?  While scientists are still not certain about the complete workings of the memory, a John Hopkins Health Alert reported two studies giving evidence to the theory that a Mediterranean diet may be the answer.  The Mediterranean diet is  a plant-based diet with limited red meat, limited animal fat,  and  low-fat dairy.  One study, printed in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry evaluated two groups of people in their 70s over a period of six years.    One group was given a low-fat diet and the other  followed a Mediterranean diet. At the conclusion of the test, it was discovered that the group who followed the Mediterranean diet scored higher on cognitive tests and were less likely to develop dementia.  So, bottom line, losing the fat may be consistent with losing the marbles. (Take that froyo!!)

Olive oil

However, we must be aware that it is not about loading the fats on, but  rather choosing our fats wisely.  According to the Mayo Clinic, the reason the Mediterranean diet is so effective is because olive oil is its primary source of fat.  Olive oil provides monosaturated fat, which can help lower cholesterol levels and provide antioxidants.

So, do not surrender to  complete abandonment when it comes to mealtimes.  We all need to be aware that everything should be done in moderation and this article is not suggesting that you go to your local Greek or Southern Italian place and order a highly caloric dish followed by a dark chocolate bar.  Overeating can also be very dangerous and is a leading cause of death in America, but, isn’t it nice to know that, in some instances, we can have our cake and eat it too, even if it portion controlled?

Resveratrol and Brain Health

Woman having red wine

What would you think if you were told that your evening glass of wine could help your memory stay keen as you age? As it happens, there are hypotheses circulating suggesting that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes that’s abundant in red wine and grape juice, might be able to keep your brain healthy even as you age. Of course, caution and healthy skepticism are always valuable boons when dealing with anything that sounds like it might be too good to be true, so let’s examine these ideas carefully.

Claims
The purported benefits of resveratrol for the brain tend to revolve around improvement of memory, or at the very least, prevention of memory degradation. More specifically, this would mean that regular consumption of resveratrol might help one create, retain, and recall memories better. Some claims also tout resveratrol as helping general cognitive processing and function, meaning that it might help you process information faster and have clearer and sharper thoughts in general (cut away mental “fog,” so to speak).

Studies
There have actually been a couple clinical studies done on this phenomenon, and while further testing is necessary to confirm that resveratrol makes for an effective treatment or supplemental treatment, the results are promising. Trials done on both animals and human volunteers indicate that resveratrol might be able to improve memory retention and function. Evidence supporting resveratrol helping with generalized cognitive function and processing, however, has scant anecdotal evidence at best; it certainly might help, but we don’t know for sure yet and won’t know without further studies.

The Takeaway
In short, there’s enough evidence supporting resveratrol having at least a couple beneficial effects on long term health of the brain, so while we don’t have the full picture just yet, we know enough to say that at worst, it’s harmless and might only help a little, and at best, it might help a lot. So don’t treat regular consumption of resveratrol as a cure-all or stop seeing your doctor (please, please keep going to your doctor appointments and keeping them up to date on everything that concerns your health), but go ahead and sip that red wine, and toast to your good health.

Tips and Tricks
Remember, of course, that you should still moderate alcohol consumption, even if it is red wine you’re drinking. A good habit is to limit yourself to one drink a day on an average day, only exceeding this on special occasions and social outings (ideally no more than once a week, and still only 2-4 drinks in that case).

Further, you don’t actually need to consume alcohol to get antioxidants, so if you’re trying to cut back or recovering from an addiction, never fear. Red grape juice, pomegranate juice, and dark chocolate are just a few good non-alcoholic sources of antioxidants. In general, dark, leafy greens and especially dark fruits are your best bets.