You might think that a failing memory is a problem only older people face, but it’s starting to affect people earlier in life. Far earlier than many people expect.

In fact, a lot people don’t even realize that their memory is starting to decline until it’s too late. They simply chalk up their forgetfulness to long and busy workdays, being under stress, or simply not paying enough attention.

But while these things may play a part in your forgetfulness, diet is quickly becoming the key factor in declining memory and brain health.

2 Ways Your Diet Is Affecting Your Memory

1. Saturated Fat

Eating a diet high in saturated fat has been linked to greater cognitive decline. Saturated fat contains LDL, which when oxidized by free radicals, causes mitochondrial injury in the brain. Plaque forms on the injured blood vessel walls, leading to decreased blood flow to the brain. This causes memory to decline.

Oxidation can occur because of your lifestyle, diet, or the environment. In particular, being inactive, eating processed foods, and exposing yourself to toxins and chemicals can all increase your risk.

2. Blood Sugar

Another major link between diet and poor memory is dysglycemia, which means that your body may not be regulating your blood sugar well. Type 2 diabetes has long been linked to dementia because your brain’s grey matter can be damaged if there isn’t enough glucose readily available.

Again, this is largely caused by your diet. Insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes are caused by diets high in refined carbohydrates and simple sugars, such as breads, desserts and baked goods, pastas, and white rice.

Sadly, the standard North American diet is filled with high glycemic foods, which cause spikes in your blood sugar. Over time these repeated spikes lead to similar spikes in insulin production, eventually making your body insulin resistant.

The links between blood sugar levels and Alzheimer’s are so strong that it’s now being called Type 3 diabetes.

3 Steps to Memory Loss Prevention

Balance Your Blood Sugar – to do this you need to eat fewer highly refined carbohydrates, exercise regularly, and sleep well. This will help you have greater insulin sensitivity and make glucose readily available for your brain.

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Eat Your Fruits and Veggies – eating a wide variety of colorful vegetables and fruits will help provide your body with a wide array of antioxidants, which can help reverse or prevent free radical damage, especially when it comes to oxidized LDL.

Eat More Brain-Boosting Foods

Some foods that are particularly good for your brain include:

brain foods

Blueberries – are high in antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which improve nerve signaling and decrease oxidative damage. Supplementation with blueberries has been shown to improve memory function in older adults with early memory decline.

Avocados – a source of good fats that help decrease hypertension, avocados improve cardiovascular health and blood flow to the brain. Increased blood flow improves memory and decreases cognitive decline. You should try adding even just ¼ of an avocado to your daily diet.

Nuts and seeds – are a great source of Vitamin B3 and zinc, which can help prevent cognitive decline and improve memory. Reach for a handful of pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, or flaxseeds for an extra brain boost.

Wild Fish – Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, has been linked extensively with improved memory and cognition in young and older adults. In addition to eating fish like wild salmon, you can also consider taking a high quality fish oil supplement with anti-inflammatory EPA and brain-boosting DHA.

Coconut Oil – studies have shown coconut oil supplementation to help decrease the harmful effects of beta amyloid plaques which contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. You can start cooking with coconut oil or simply take 1 tablespoon a day to help improve your brain function.

Rosemary – has been shown to help stimulate the brain and improve memory function in various studies. Smelling the essential oil, or adding the fresh or dried herb to your daily cuisine can be a great addition to your brain-boosting regimen.

Turmeric – has many anti-inflammatory properties, and studies have shown that it helps to decrease beta amyloid plaques, delays degradation of neurons, and acts as an antioxidant, which all help to improve memory and prevent cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients. Turmeric is best absorbed when heated and eaten with a fat. You can roast vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of turmeric to reap its many benefits.

The Things to Remember

Declining memory is becoming a problem for younger and younger people because of the current state of the standard North America diet. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are on the rise partly because of the foods that we are putting into our bodies.

Much of this decline is easily preventable with the right diet, a little bit of exercise, and a few good habits. Our brain needs a steady diet of nutrients to thrive – sadly, that’s something many of us may have forgotten.


Jiankang Liu,*† Elizabeth Head,‡ Afshin M. Gharib,*† Wenjun Yuan,* Russell T. Ingersoll,* Tory M. HagenCarl W. Cotman,‡ and Bruce N. Ames*†¶

1) Liu J, Head E, Gharib A, Yuan W, Ingersoll RT, Hagen TM, Cotman CW, Ames BN. Memory loss in old rats is associated with brain mitochondrial decay and RNA/DNA oxidation: Partial reversal by feeding acetyl-l-carnitine and/or R-α-lipoic acid. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Feb 19; 99(4): 2356–2361
2) Hugenschmidt C, Williamson JD. Solving the mystery of the diabetes–dementia
connection: New clues — but far from “case closed”. Journal of Diabetes and its complications. 2014. Vol 28 (1): 8-9.!/content/journal/1-s2.0-S1056872713002158
3) Stonehouse W, Conlon CA, Podd J, Hill SR, Minihane AM, Haskell C, Kennedy D. DHA supplementation improved both memory and reaction time in healthy young adults: a randomized controlled trial. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2013; 97 (5); 1134-43!/content/medline/2-s2.0-23515006

4) Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, Kalt W, Vinquist-Tymchuk MR, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph J. Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 14; 58(7): 3996–4000.

5) Pengelly A1, Snow J, Mills SY, Scholey A, Wesnes K, Butler LR.

Short-term study on the effects of rosemary on cognitive function in an elderly population. J Med Food. 2012 Jan;15(1):10-7.

6) Sayorwan W, Ruangrungsi N, Piriyapunyporn T, Hongratanaworakit T, Kotchabhakdi N, Sirjpornpanich. Effects of Inhaled Rosemary Oil on Subjective Feelings and Activities of the Nervous System. Sci Pharm. 2013 Jun; 81(2): 531–542.

7) Yang Y1, Jing XP, Zhang SP, Gu RX, Tang FX, Wang XL, Xiong Y, Qiu M, Sun XY, Ke D, Wang JZ, Liu R. High dose zinc supplementation induces hippocampal zinc deficiency and memory impairment with inhibition of BDNF signaling.

PLoS One. 2013;8(1).

8) Nafar F1, Mearow KM1. Coconut oil attenuates the effects of amyloid-β on cortical neurons in vitro. J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;39(2):233-7.

9) Mishra S, Palanivelu K. The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview. Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2008 Jan-Mar; 11(1): 13–19.

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