Did you know that 1 in 9 adults will experience cognitive decline as they age? We often brush off the idea of being prone to cognitive decline at a young age or only subject it to our grandparents having it. More than 10% of adults (45-65 years) experience subjective cognitive decline. Although genetics play a crucial role in contributing to cognitive impairment, various lifestyle habits also cause early cognitive decline. Pay attention to what you eat, whether you want to improve your focus, memory, and learning capacity during exams or your next work meeting. Most lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and good nutrition, may slow down cognitive decline and boost brain function. Here is a list of foods one can include in their diet that, along with improving brain health, also have various other health benefits.
Fatty fish: The Omega-3 in fatty fish helps build brain and nerve cells. The DHA plays a crucial role in boosting brain function and memory. It is also effective in slowing down Alzheimer’s disease.
Berries: Blueberries and other deeply coloured berries deliver anthocyanins, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Antioxidants act against oxidative stress and inflammation, which can contribute to brain ageing and neurodegenerative diseases.
Turmeric: It helps improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s. It may also help clear the amyloid plaques, a hallmark of this disease. Curcumin boosts serotonin and dopamine, both of which improve mood.
Pumpkin seeds: It contains powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free-radical damage.
Eggs: They are a good source of several nutrients tied to brain health, including vitamins B6 and B12, folate, and choline. The choline in eggs helps create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory.
Green tea: It contains Ltheanine, an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps reduce anxiety and makes you feel more relaxed. It has also been found to improve alertness, performance, memory, and focus.
Green leafy vegetables: It contains various bioactive compounds, including vitamin K, lutein, β-carotene, nitrate, folate, kaempferol, and α-tocopherol, which have protective effects on the brain and easily attenuate oxidative stress in the brain. Other than food items, certain plant-based Nootropics like Bacopa monnieri (Bacopa) extract enhance cognition. Bacopa, commonly known as Brahmi in India, is an ancient Ayurvedic herbal remedy for many ailments. It is a nootropic herb that helps in repair damaged neurons, neuronal synthesis, and the restoration of synaptic activity, and improves brain function as well as inhibiting acetylcholinesterase In a nutshell, you can optimise your memory, learning, and focus by a nutritious diet, proper sleep, hydration, engaging in outdoor physical activities, reducing stress levels, and limiting alcohol intake.
Dr Anish Desai is MD, Clinical Pharmacologist and Nutraceutical Physician, Founder and CEO IntelliMed Healthcare Solutions.