Natural help for memory and brain function
The brain is a complex and sensitive organ, it requires 20 percent of the total oxygen carried in the blood to function properly. As we grow older we sometimes begin to notice that our memories are not as good as they used to be. External influences like medication, diet and toxins in our body can all have an affect. Loss of memory is usually caused by reduced blood flow and lack of oxygen to the brain.
This is why we have to take care of to provide our bodies with a sufficient supply of necessary nutrients thus offering the brain support in fighting free radicals and also by improving blood circulation to those all important brain cells.
Blueberries and blackberries are particularly good at a bit of brain-boosting, they are exceptionally rich in chemicals called anthocyanins, which are among the most potent antioxidants.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has been used since antiquity to improve and strengthen the memory. Ancient Romans and Greeks wore rosemary wreaths on their heads when studying to enhance their memory. Even today it is burned in the homes of students studying for their exams in Greece. It is thought that it stimulates the circulation of blood to the head, improving concentration and memory. In 2002 a study on the benefits of aromatherapy and the scent of rosemary in particular showed that the smell of rosemary improved people's alertness, and short and long term memory.
The herb sage can also boost memory. In a study at the Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria they found that people given sage oil tablets performed much better in a "word recall test". And it is believed that the active ingredient may boost levels of a chemical that helps transmit messages in the brain.
Eating soy is also said to be beneficial to cognitive function, it contains isoflavones, which are plant estrogens that stimulate the estrogen receptors in the human brain. Stimulating the estrogen receptors in the brain means nerve connections form more rapidly.
Recent findings also suggest that taking extra vitamins could help preserve memory, especially as we age. Researchers at Australia's University of Sydney tested 117 people in a retirement home by putting them through a battery of mental tests that included remembering a string of words, listing as many words as possible that begin with a certain letter of the alphabet, and doing mental addition and subtraction. Those who regularly took vitamin C, they found, scored higher on the tests. Iron and Zinc are thought to be very important for cognitive function.
And folic acid, the vitamin prescribed to pregnant women, could be a brain saver, a recent study has found. People who took high dose supplements of folic acid did significantly better in tests of memory and cognitive performance than those given a placebo, researchers report. The vitamin is found in green leafy vegetables, beans and liver.
But, the single most reliable way to protect our brains as we age, is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. In a study published in the October 1997 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers tested 260 people aged 65 to 90 with a series of mental exercises that involved memorizing words or doing mental arithmetic. The top performers were those who consumed the most fruit and veg and ate the least saturated fat. It is thought that a Mediterranean diet rich with fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats is one of the best ways of preventing problems in later life.