The Surprising Connection Between Diet and Memory

Recently, we evaluated a study that showed eliminating synthetic trans fats from ones diet may help improve memory. Researchers are still unclear whether or not its trans-unsaturated fatty acids or trans fats that interfere with memory by directly affecting the nervous system. They're also looking into whether or not the correlation stems from the cardiovascular damage which harms the brain as well. 

Nevertheless, it is fascinating and somewhat still unknown just how diet and memory fully connect but many studies have begun to dip into this wealth of information that would help potentially better treat and event prevent dementia issues and even Alzheimer's Disease. 

A new study is now showing that weight gain may affect memory health. The study was published in the journal, JAMA Neurology which showed a strong association between insulin resistance and a decline in memory function.

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esearchers studied the brain scans of 150 people who were on average an age of 60 and at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. Participants who had higher insulin resistance used less blood sugar in areas of the brain most susceptible to memory issues. Less blood sugar equals diminished brain function.

Insulin is a hormone that helps move glucose (aka blood sugar) from your blood into your cells for your body to use as fuel. The pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream, but when insulin resistance occurs, there is not enough insulin to move the blood sugar to the cells. As a result, the pancreas creates more insulin to move the blood sugar along.

What we eat plays a huge role because sugary foods and the bad fats cause spikes in blood sugar. These spikes are quite dangerous because they cause your insulin to overwork in order to convert nutrients to energy. When your body has enough energy, it stores it as fat instead. 

For Alzheimer's Disease, many brain regions start using less and less blood sugar. 

Another recent study at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago suggest that there are certain foods that can help prevent Alzheimer's disease. The researchers developed a diet program called the MIND diet. They said it may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by 53 percent.

The MIND diet seemed to work even for people who weren’t extremely strict about it, but instead followed it "moderately well". For these people, their risk of Alzheimer's was decreased by about one-third.

MIND diet foods to prevent and fight Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Beans. Beans are high in protein and fiber. They are also low in fat and calories. Aim to eat beans at least three times a week.
  • Olive oil. Olive oil, compared all other types of cooking oil, provides the most protection for brain health.
  • Whole grains. Rich in fiber. Get at least three servings a day.
  • Vegetables. Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, and collards are rich in vitamins A and C. Aim for at least two servings a week, but if you can, get six or more servings a week as this many gives the most optimal benefits for brain health. You should also try to eating a salad and at least one other veggie every day.
  • Fish. Eating fish at least once a week can help protect brain function.
  • Nuts. Nuts are loaded with healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants, which are all excellent for brain health. Nuts can also help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Aim to eat a handful of nuts about five times a week. Be careful though, nuts are often high in calories.
  • Wine. One glass of wine each day may be good for protecting cognitive function.
  • Berries. Blueberries and strawberries are a great for brain health. Both are beneficial in regards to improving cognitive function. Aim to eat berries at least twice a week.
  • Poultry. Try to get at least two or more servings a week.