Memory Enhancing Foods

Memory is one of the most important human faculties. And quite often we take it for granted. Only when it starts to fail us do we turn our attention to memory and try to find ways to improve it.

On the Internet, one can find numerous foods that improve memory. While food for memory does exist, there are many alleged memory-boosting nutrients and not all are scientifically proven to work, or even researched. We’ll try to find the ones that are sufficiently investigated so that we can at least give an educated guess. For the rest, we’ll have to believe what others tell us, without being able to unambiguously ascertain the truth.

Before going on to the main part of the text, we’ll briefly mention just how much our cognitive system is complex. Numerous memory processes like, for instance, acquisition, storage, recognition, reproduction, association, recollection, etc., all converge to form the basic human ability called “memory”.

This means that foods that improve memory and concentration might facilitate some of these processes and not all. Moreover, we know too little about both psychological and physiological aspects of our cognitive functions, which means that we aren’t even sure how it works, let alone being sure about possible improvements.

Main Foods That Improve Memory

There are so many foods around so in order to make sense of what is beneficial for your memory, we start by mentioning only the substances that have been tested in neuropsychological studies, with standardized tests of cognitive functions.

1. Phosphatidylserine (PS) is found in soy. Studies showed that this soy component can mitigate the aging of the brain, and restore normal memory functioning. In humans, PS is linked with a better recollection of word lists, in older adults who have a moderate impairment. In other words, this memory enhancer food might even be effective in people who already have some kind of detrimental brain changes.

Researchers are unanimous when it comes to one thing: PS isn’t helpful for people suffering from Alzheimer’s. This chemical (PS) is also found in white beans.

2. Choline compounds are important for the seamless functioning of memory-related neurotransmitters. While studies on choline are still scarce, it’s not far-fetched to conclude that choline chemicals cannot reverse the impairments due to Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, choline might be helpful for adults who don’t have degenerative neurocognitive diseases. Even better, citicoline (a choline compound) might improve some memory components in older adults who were within a normal range, but who had lower scores in baseline testing. This essentially means that citicoline might reverse memory-deficits in normal-aging adults.

Choline chemicals can be found in these foods that increase memory: dairy products and peanuts. Vegans are certainly, as opposed to some claims, not deficient of choline. They can boost their choline memory diet with spinach, wheat, and beets.

3. Piracetam improves the activity of neurotransmitter systems and increases the number of receptors. This is a nootropic drug (cognitive enhancer). For a product that’s marketed as a supplement that helps with memory, we have to say that it doesn’t do the job. For instance, piracetam probably won’t help with age-related mnemonic impairments, nor will people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease find any benefit in using this nootropic drug. 

4. Vinpocetine may increase mnemonic capacities indirectly, by increasing blood circulation in the brain. Unfortunately, there are practically no studies that tested the specific effect of vinpocetine on memory. Generally speaking, this chemical will improve the overall efficiency of your brain circulation, and possibly improve your global cognitive capacities (including memory). This substance is extracted from a plant called Vinca Minor. It inhibits a protein (I kappa B kinase) which is an important marker of brain inflammation. 

Vinpocetine is often sold as a dietary supplement. If you live in the USA, be careful about the exact dosage of vinpocetine, because the US law doesn’t regulate the distribution of this pharmacological substance. Some dietary supplements for memory have high concentrations of this chemical, but before more research is done, you shouldn’t ingest larger amounts of vinpocetine.

5. Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC)- might as well be one of the most important foods that help your memory. It has been shown that patients suffering from Alzheimer’s who received an ALC memory diet, scored better across a range of memory tests when compared with the control group. ALC is important for the removal of toxic fatty acids that accumulate in neurons. These are the neural plaques characteristic of some types of dementia.

The main source of ALC is milk and cheese. You can also find supplements to help you boost your intake if you are strictly vegan.

6. Antioxidants should neutralize the detrimental effect of free radicals, which are linked with numerous diseases, including cancer. One of the most popular antioxidants, vitamin E, hasn’t been shown to induce significant memory improvements. This simply means that vitamin E, on its own, doesn’t have mnemonic benefits. However, it is highly recommended to include this brain food supplement in your diet plan. 

Vegetables and Fruits: Perfect for Your Memory

  1. Blueberries- thanks to anthocyanins found in most berries, this fruit has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 
  2. Broccoli- high concentrations of vitamin K in this memory-improving vegetable are a good addition to your mnemonic diet plan. 
  3. Pumpkin Seeds- these seeds will free your brain from free radicals, thanks to their antioxidant effect. 
  4. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have numerous benefits for the brain and memory. 
  5. Cherries
  6. Green leafy vegetables – simply add an enormous power of antioxidants to your plate, everyday

Foods That May Cause Memory Loss

We’ve mentioned the good things. Now let’s turn to foods that are bad for your brain and memory:

  1. Soft drinks with lots of high-fructose syrup. It’s hard to exaggerate the detrimental effect these drinks have on our brain and cognitive processes. Consuming large amounts of these drinks increases your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, which then might facilitate the development of dementia. Furthermore, higher blood sugar levels are directly linked with increased risk of dementia.
  2. Refined carbohydrates also increase blood sugar levels.
  3. Aspartame- although advertised as an ideal replacement for sugar, this chemical is also negatively affecting healthy memory functioning.
  4. Alcohol in excess

Be Creative When Eating Foods For Your Memory

How to organize nutrition to improve memory? 

As you’ve probably realized by now, there is still no universal memory diet. There are recommendations, but we’re still far from being able to say: “Here’s a chemical or food that will unmistakably improve our memory.”

You can refer to our short but easy to use list of foods that improve your memory. It is easy to make a quick salad with leafy greens like lettuce and spinach and add broccoli and crushed walnuts on top. Instead of snacking on crisps and other nasties, have a small box of blueberries or similar berries with you. 

When it comes to organizing your nutrition, one advice may be useful: Diversity is the key. 

Conclusion to Stress Remedies

In the introduction, we’ve touched upon the subject of the combination of various stress remedies and stress management technique. In other words, an all-encompassing, holistic approach is necessary. You cannot simply take your daily dose of Magnesium and expect to feel better all of a sudden. But, adding Magnesium to your wider stress-management strategy is a good way to enhance and affirm all the improvements you’ve made previously.

On the other hand, some stress remedies can act as “triggers”, in a way that they initiate the elimination of stress. People who are chronically stressed out (especially due to overwork), often neglect all the other important aspects of life, including exercise. So, increasing your physical activity can give you more energy to face everyday hassles on the one hand, and relax you on the other.