Vitamins Improve Memory

Boost your mental performance

The brain health benefits of almonds

Three major reasons to choose this snack if you feel mentally exhausted

There are several general health benefits of eating almonds. Above all (at least in case of this blog), it is a perfect brain food for four major reasons.

First, almonds are a rich source of polyphenols. These micronutrients can promote memory, learning and cognitive functions.1 Second, the skins of almonds provide a prebiotic effect, which play a direct role in brain chemistry balance.2 Third, almonds are a powerful source of vitamin E. Given that, they protect synaptic membranes form oxidation, thus they support neuroplasticity.3 Last, they contain a substantial amount of polyunsaturated fat, which is very important for proper brain function.4

Vitamin E and Memory

Beside being a well known skin care micronutrition, Vitamin E is also important for a sharp memory.

Scientists have noted a link between decreasing serum levels of vitamin E and poorer memory performance in older individuals. In addition, a 2013 trial, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, even found that high doses of vitamin E led to significantly slower decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.5

Eating almonds regularly can be an easy way to provide you with adequate and healthy level of Vitamin E.

Polyunsaturated Fat Qualification

It is important to know that polyunsaturated fat is easily oxidized. As a result, a couple of you might have been worrying a lot whether it means that they can only consume raw almonds, in case they want to enjoy the full nutritional benefits.

If you prefer roasted nuts, you can calm down. The fat in almonds remains relatively protected through the roasting process, a sign that the nuts also contain a high amount of antioxidants.6

Just be sure you choose “dry roasted nuts”, as “roasted” almost always mean they deep-fry it in poor quality vegetable oil. For instance, a good example is Kirkland Signature Dry Roasted Almond.

How to Add to My Diet

You can combine it with fruits and dark chocolate as a brain boosting snack. However due to their high fat an calorie content, you should stick to only a couple of almonds per day. A small amount can still provide you with all of the health benefits of almonds.

If you are interested in food blogs, you should check the Top 100 Nutrition Blogs.

What is Acai Berry?

It sounds like some healthy food, so it probably tastes horrible

If you have never eaten an acai bowl, you should definitely give it a shot. This time I don’t speak exclusively to brain nutrition enthusiasts. When we discuss what Acai Berry is, the potential brain boosting effects are just one of the many reasons to try it.

There are people out there who eat things without conducting a comprehensive research on the possible effects on their health and mental performance. (Savages!) In their case the biggest incentive is probably the taste of the food. In spite of that, I can still safely recommend them an acai bowl since it is incredibly delicious. I can’t support this claim of mine with a scientific study, but just look at that:

Of course for most of the readers taste is just a bonus. As a result, I would like to speak about the incredible health and brain benefits of the main ingredient, the acai berry.

Oxidative stress is not good for you

When rust oxidizes the metal in pipes, after a certain amount of time they will erode. Similarly the blood vessels in our body oxidize and begin to clog up with fats, until they can completely stop the flow of blood . This process called oxidative stress and it is responsible for plenty of diseases, including dementia.

The majority of fruits, especially berries can help prevent this issue. They contain a protein called antioxidants that can break down the clogs, causing blood and oxygen to flow better to the brain. (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2002, 50, 26, 7542–7547)

Berries for a sharp memory

Strong scientific evidence shows that eating berries has valuable effects on the brain.(Science Daily – Eating Berries for the Brain) Dark, red and blue berries contain beneficial chemicals that are also found in the hippocampus (the control center for the brain’s memory). Berry fruits change the way neurons in the brain communicate. These changes in signaling can prevent inflammation in the brain that contribute to neuronal damage. As a result they both improve motor control and cognition. The high concentration of vitamin C and antioxidants can also help to resist harmful free radical damage and keep the memory sharp.

Plenty of research supports eating a diet rich in antioxidants. Berries without a doubt play an important role in a healthy diet, promoting weight loss and mental health. Let’s examine one of them which is not that well known, but definitely a perfect choice for your brain.

So what is Acai Berry?

It is an inch-long reddish, purple fruit from the acai palm tree native to Central and South America. The fatty acid content in acai resembles that of olive oil. It is also rich in monounsaturated oleic acid, the same found in fish oil. They are excellent source of antioxidants. They contain about 10 times that of red grapes and 10-30 times the anthocyanins of red wine. As far as fiber, flavonoids, heart-healthy fats, amino acid complex and phytosterols are concerned, acai is a perfect source as well. The small round berry is also rich in vitamins E, C, A calcium and iron.

There are several evidence based researches on the health benefits of acai. (JAND, TANDF, JHED, Pubmed, Healthline) So let’s see the most significant potential positive effects:

  • Boosting brain function, and promoting mental health
  • Improving physical performance
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Promoting healthy skin
  • Slowing down the signs of aging and even reversing them in some cases
  • Increasing energy
  • Aiding weight loss

Is it for everyone?

People who are underweight should probably avoid eating acai berry regularly, since it can suppress appetite and promote weight loss. Another side effect might be a minor stomach irritation in case of excessive consumption due to the high acid content in the fruit. As always, moderation is important.

I would like to regularly enjoy the benefits

Acai bowls and smoothies are available in a lot of restaurants, but they are usually seriously overpriced and you probably won’t eat out on a regular basis. In case you only want to enjoy the taste of it, it is perfectly fine to consume it occasionally. On the other hand, if you want to utilize the health benefits you need to include it in your regular diet.

The easiest way to accomplish this, is purchasing a large size acai berry powder. All you have to do is look at what ingredients are in the acai bowls or smoothies that you buy at coffee bars, and you can just make your own for way less money.

One of the most popular choices is the Food to Live Organic Acai Berry Powder. This product is certified organic, 100% pure and free from any additives, toxins, and caffeine.

Hydrate your body, hydrate your mind

A distinctive difference between our bodies and brains

Since every cell, tissue and organ require water to work properly, it is crucial to hydrate your body. Removing waste, maintaining proper body temperature, and lubricating your joints are just a couple of the important benefits.

On average our bodies contain 60% water, 20% protein, 15% fats, 2% carbs and some vitamins and minerals. In case of our brains, water content is even more prevalent. The figures approximately look like this: 80% water, 11% fats, 8% protein, 3% vitamins and minerals and a pinch of carbs. As a result, it is safe to say water is one of the most important brain nutrients of all.

The thirsty brain

Beside constituting most of its weight, water plays an important role in every chemical reaction in the brain. In fact, brain cells require a delicate balance of water and other elements such as minerals and salts to work properly. (Amiry-Moghaddam M, Ottersen OP. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2003; 4:991–1001) Further, water is indispensable for energy production. It carries oxygen, which is needed for your working cells to breath and burn sugar to produce energy. H2O also has a structural role and it fills in the spaces between brain cells and it helps to absorb nutrients and get rid of waste products.

When water supply is too low we become dehydrated and the body can’t carry out its normal functions. This can be extremely dangerous, especially to our brains. As little as 3 to 4 percent decrease in water intake can reduce our cognitive functions. As a result, it can cause brain fog, reduced energy, headaches and mood swings. (Popkin BM et al. Nutrition Reviews 2010; 68:439–458) 3-4 percent sounds like a very small amount of water, you say?

This is especially disconcerting, since dehydration can actually accelerate the brain shrinkage that occurs with aging and dementia. MRI studies show that several parts of the brain appear to get thinner and lose volume due to not enough water consumption.(Streitburger DP et al. PLoS One 2012; 7:e44195)

How much water do we need to drink?

Fortunately we can completely eliminate the effects of dehydration by simply drinking enough water. But what is exactly enough to hydrate your body and mind? This is definitely a controversial topic and there is probably no accurate answer. However the often recommended eight 8-ounce glasses a day is backed by researches from a mental performance perspective. (Benefer MD et al. European Journal of Nutrition 2013; 52:617–624).

Some real hands on brain benefits please

In an experiment in the UK several participants completed a mental test. One of the groups only consumed a cereal bar alone before the test and the other also had 3 cups of water. The latter team had significantly faster reaction times compared to those who din’t drink water. (Edmonds CJ et al. Frontiers Human Neuroscience 2013; 7:363)

The advantages of thinking faster can be rewarding. Think about an exam with a strict deadline or a day in the office when you receive 100 emails.

So the prescription is quite simple: keep your body and mind hydrated.

White Rice vs Brown Rice

A vote for whole grains

Before talking specifically about “white rice vs brown rice”, let’s examine two bigger groups.

Whole grain foods are part of the best nutrition if you want to enhance your mental performance. The vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid that they contain are essential in protecting your memory and they also boost blood flow to the brain. A Spanish study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms this statement. According to the results, people on a complex carbohydrate diet had increased cognitive function and showed gain in their general health.

Contrary to wholegrains, by eating simple or refined carbohydrates you abandon these benefits. During the processing, these foods lose their beneficial fiber and phytonutrients. A couple of examples are white bread, pasta, pastry and cookies. By eating a diet rich in these carbs, your blood sugar and insulin level spike, which can cause serious issues. The potential risks are diabetes, cognitive decline, memory loss and dementia.

It is better to choose whole grains packed with dietary fibers, that have not been processed. Whole oats, barley, whole grain breads, whole wheat pasta, or brown rice are all health and brain friendly choices.

B as B-vitamins , B as brown (not white) rice

Brown rice is a perfect food, if you want to improve your mental performance. This whole grain food fuels your brain by containing the perfect mix of carbohydrates and fiber. It can help you maintain concentration throughout the day and improve your memory. In case of gluten sensitivity, it is also an excellent choice, due to the low-glycemic complex carbohydrates.

One of the the biggest advantage of brown rice is the B-vitamins. These vitamins like the riboflavin, niacin, thiamin and inositol can help produce energy for the brain cells and maintain optimal brain health.

Has white rice lost to brown rice?

If you ask the question who the winner in the white rice vs brown rice competition is, the simple answer is brown rice. (Well, at least with respect to health and brain benefits. Taste is a different question.) White rice lacks the complete array of B-vitamins, because the nutritious hull has been polished off and replaced with just a few of the B-vitamins during processing.

It still doesn’t mean that white rice is a terrible choice. Although it has a lower fiber content, but it is easier to digest and it has a couple of identical health benefits that brown rice has. Either type of rice can be part of a healthy diet, but brown rice is superior as a brain food.

What is Astaxanthin?

50 shades of salmon

Do you often have sleepless nights thinking about the reason behind the different color of farmed and wild salmons? I can help you with that issue. The main food supply of wild salmons is a small crustaceans, the krill. A powerful carotenoid the so called Astaxanthin is dervied from them and it gives the richer color of salmons which occur in undomesticated form. In case of farm raised salmons, this carotenoid is not that abundant.

Do I have to care about the astaxanthin level? I prefer the lighter pink color anyway

Nutritionist have been long associating wild fish consumption with several different health benefits. The impact on the brain is no other. People who eat wild fish regularly exhibit superior cognitive aging and better memory function. According to the “Mediterranean Diet” Study (Staubo), cognitively normal older people who ate seafood (including fish) regularly experienced positive mental effects. They had reduced decline of verbal memory and slower rates of decline in a test of perceptual speed over five years, compared to people who didn’t consume enough seafood.

The very best among these fishes is wild salmon, which is low in mercury and a rich source of omega 3 fats, and of course astaxanthin.

When I ask “what is astaxanthin” in a healthy food blog, I want to know the exact benefits

Astaxanthin can have positive effects on your whole body. The most relevant benefits can be the following:

  • Promotes neurogenesis and boost cognitive function
  • Increase the ability to concentrate
  • Beneficial for the eyes
  • Provide potent antioxidant effects and free radical scavenging
  • Convert blood lipids to a more cardioprotective profile
  • Enhance the appearance of skin and protects it from sun damage
  • Improve stamina

What if I can’t find wild salmon, or/and I don’t like the taste of it?

The huge demand for salmon is satisfied without a doubt with farmed salmon products. It is still not impossible to find wild salmon. In case it is usually not available in your local supermarket you can always order it. I give you an example that is sustainably sourced and canned fresh to retain nutritional potency: Wild Planet Wild Sockeye Salmon.

In case you are not a big fan of salmon, you can also choose shrimp, crab, or lobster to get your astaxanthin.

Of course nowadays supplementation is absolutely possible as well. One of the most popular option is Nutrex Hawaii Bioastin Hawaiin Astaxanthin.

Do You Need Flavonoids Supplements to Enhance Your Brain or Chocolate Will Do the Work?

The flavonoids supplements trend

Healthy eating enthusiasts have an increasing interest in the benefits of flavonoids supplements. These antioxidants not only reduce the risk of cancer, hearth disease, asthma and stroke, but they are also beneficial for the mind.

In cocoa flavanols we trust

A subgroup of flavonoids are the flavanols, which can be found in abundance in dark chocolate. Cocoa flavanols have been shown to reverse signs of cognitive aging and improve blood flow to the brain. In the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study on Chocolate Intake almost one thousand people in different ages were examined. According to the results, those who ate chocolate at least once a week had stronger cognitive performance. The specifically improved areas were visual-spatial memory, working memory and abstract reasoning.

The perfect chocolate candidate

So why do you even think about flavonoids supplements, if you can simply consume one of the most popular candies? The chances are high, that you have already eaten a lot of chocolate and haven’t really felt the positive effects, just the exact opposite. The problem is that in the seemingly endless option at your local supermarket, only a couple of chocolate products will boost your cognitive power. The vast majority of them contain way too much cheap simple sugar, which can create an inflammatory condition. This can greatly increase your risk of cognitive decline and loss of memory.

In order to find the perfect chocolate for your brain, you should keep in mind a couple of things:

  • Milk and white chocolate are not an option, because they are pure sugar.
  • Look for something with minimal sugar and high percentage of cocoa. (80%+)
  • Check the label to make sure that the cocoa is not “processed with alkali”. Alkali reduces the beneficial nutrients of cocoa. (Pay special attention here!)
  • Bonus step: Opt for organic or fair trade certified to make sure it is a sustainable and ethical choice.

A good example looks like this.

Consume one bar per week, and enjoy the positive effects.

I’m on an diet, and it doesn’t taste like milk chocolate, leave me alone!

If you do your homework and select your chocolate wisely, it will be most definitely a healthy choice. However, it is still a high calorie food, so moderation is the key. Do not eat two bars per day.

But what if you don’t like the bitter taste of dark chocolate? Or you might be extremely obsessed with your weight loss efforts. Better yet, you probably can’t waste your precious time on eating chocolate, because you’re too busy. Well, you still don’t have to give up on flavanols.

In case you decide to choose flavonoids supplements, make sure it is derived from natural ingredients. Try to avoid artificial coloring. Also if your main purpose is to enhance your brain, don’t forget about the so called flavanol ingredient. Last but not least, it shouldn’t contain sugar and the calories should be low. (This is an important one, especially if you want the positive effects of chocolate, without eating it). Click here for a good suggestion.

Do Vitamins Improve Memory and Cognitive Functions?

Cognitive improvement after 25

Do certain vitamins improve memory and other cognitive functions at any stage of life? Most parents probably know that proper nutrition plays an important role in the cognitive development of children, but what about our later years?

According to the original theory, our brains would undergo a fierce period of growth up to age 25, then slowly and gradually it would decline until the end of life. We thought that the potential to change was impossible.

Then, in the mid-nineties, a groundbreaking discovery was made that forever changed the assumptions about the brain: it was found that new brain cells can be generated until death. A whole new concept and a unique opportunity, for greater health and mental performance, were born. It is possible to protect, and even enhance our brains.

Factors that effect cognitive performance: Diet is an important one

Why do some people have outstanding mental performance and others don’t? Why do a few individuals live well into their their nineties maintaining robust brains and bodies, while the vast majority of people do not? Of course genetics play an important role, but our lifestyle factors are definitely more determining.

Nowadays there are more and more researches on the correlation between nutrition and cognitive performance. Organizations, like for example the Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign or Deakin University’s Food and Mood Centre are eager to explore the links between our diet and various aspects of our brain function.

Neurobiologists have proven that a bad diet is extremely harmful for your brain. If you want to achieve your cognitive peak performance, overeating and nutrient deficiency will be two of your biggest opponents. On the other hand, proper food choices will be an invaluable component in your improvement process.

These days no matter what you do, your mental performance will be crucial. Physical strength might have been the most important factor for our ancestors, but that’s over. It is all about our brains. If you want to enhance your life, becoming smarter will most probably help you. Of course it is not that easy. While vitamins improve memory and cognitive functions indeed, they won’t make you instantly a genius. It is pretty much like in the case of athletes: their training combined with their well balanced diet together can help them achieve outstanding performance.

The opinion of a memory champion: vitamins improve memory indeed

So what would be a safe proof that sustains the claim that vitamins improve memory? What about hearing it from somebody who has accomplished a lot in this area? What about an outstanding “brain athlete”? Ron White the two time US Memory Champion has a dedicated book on his special diet, that helped him to prepare for his competitions. He says “The phrase -You are what you eat -is true for all parts of your body, and that includes the brain. ”

The purpose of the blog

As far as I’m concerned, I’ve been interested in this topic for a long time now. Quite frankly reading non-fiction books after a long day in the office is not always that appealing. Playing difficult brain games might be less fun than watching movies too. Anyway, sometime you just got to do what you got to do. Variously, eating properly isn’t that exhausting at all and the positive effects are still spectacular. You just have to know how to do it the right way.

In this blog, I would like to share with you my knowledge, researches and my own experience in this area. I believe becoming more conscious about my food choices, dramatically improved my cognitive performance, and it can be the same for you. (If not, at least you can get in shape and have a better skin. Low risk to give it a shot.)

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