In the quest to improve memory and concentration people have turned to food that improve memory. Some call it brain food. But they are foods and nutrients that are used to improve memory, concentration and the health of our little gray brain cells.
Studies have shown that the right foods that improve memory at the right time can improve concentration, motivation and memory. But there is no one magic food.
Certain nutrients are used to manufacture brain chemicals that are contained in specific foods. These chemicals prevent brain aging, improve reaction time, concentration and memory. Proteins are foods that improve memory by enhancing the brains production of dopamine, which is a natural chemical that helps to keep you alert. However, the dopamine isn’t available to the brain until four hours after eating foods that contain protein. It is best to keep a steady source of protein available to the body by eating 4-6 ounces of meat or almonds, fish and other protein sources, each day to meet your needs.
Carbohydrates are other nutrients in our foods that improve memory produce serotonin. This is a natural chemical that causes drowsiness. A combination meal of carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables can help to stabilize the effects of serotonin and blood sugar. Blood glucose in the blood stream is the only source of energy for the brain so eating infrequently will decrease your ability to be alert, concentrate and remember.
Another nutrient that is necessary for both infants and adults is Omega-3 fatty acids. They are found in fresh water fish, flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnuts and omega-3 eggs. Sixty percent of our brains solid matter is essential fatty acids. These fatty acids make up a large portion of the communicating membranes of the brain, which consistently replenish themselves.
Iron deficiency is a risk factor to poor performance since the iron is needed to carry oxygen to the brain and is used to make brain neurotransmitters, especially those that regulate the ability to pay attention which is crucial to learning. According to a study in Britain researchers studied 595 girls and found a correlation between low iron levels and poor cognitive skills. Even a very small drop in iron levels cause a fall in IQ scores. (1)
The best sources of iron are in beef, fortified whole grain breakfast cereals, raisins, dried apricots, spinach and legumes. By taking your iron source with a Vitamin C source, such as orange juice, you will increase the absorption of iron by 4 times.
There is no magic food that improves memory. There is good healthy nutrition that improves attention, blood glucose to the brain, oxygen to the brain, and concentration. Pay attention to your diet, your vitamins and your health. You’ll be glad you did!
(1) Nutritional Journal: Effects of Iron Supplementation on Cognition in Older Children and Adults
University of California: More Evidence that Omega-3 Fatty Acids Support Brain Health
The Journal of Nutrition: DIetary Fatty Acids and Brain Development
Kidney International: PLasma Dopamine Concentration and Effects of low Dopamine Doses on Urinary Output after Major Vascular Surgery