Becoming forgetful as people age seems like a natural thing, but while brain power declines as a result of the aging process, it is not necessarily something that is beyond our control. For most people, lapses in memory are simply caused by inadequate nutrition affecting brain function.
The question is, how is malnutrition synonymous with memory loss? To put it simply, just as the all the organs and cells in our bodies depend on nutrients to function normally, so do our brains and nerve cells (neurons) need certain kinds of nutrients to be able to transmit and process thoughts, memories and other impulses. Malnutrition is when we do not get enough of the nutrients we need and can not supply enough fuel to our cells, including those in our brain.
As we age, our metabolism slows down, resulting in improper absorption of nutrients into our cells. Aside from hampering cell function, this weakens the cells' defenses against harmful free radicals, and also impedes the ability to grow new cells. Free radicals themselves kill off brain cells and neurons through oxidation and contribute to memory loss. To counter this metabolic deficiency and free radical damage, adults need the right kind of nutrition, particularly a well balanced diet that includes necessary brain nutrients such as:
1. Choline and B vitamins. Choline is a B vitamin that is naturally found in foods like eggs, meats, whole grains and fish. It is considered a precursor to acetylcholine (ACh), the most common neurotransmitter in the brain that carry nerve impulses, making brain function possible. Studies show that people suffering from Alzheimer's disease have low levels of acetylcholine, which is evidence of its importance to memory. Aside from choline, a complex of B vitamins is also necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitter chemicals. Aging slows down our natural ability to synthesize these neurotransmitters, thus the need for increasing the amount of choline and B vitamins in the adult diet.
2. Omega 3 fatty acids. Clinical studies of elderly patients who regularly ate fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) developed fewer brain lesions than people who did not. These tiny lesions that can be seen using a MRI brain scan can cause cognitive problems and dementia, and can even lead to stroke. It is therefore important to include types of fish that are rich in Omega 3 in your diet, such as tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies.
3. Antioxidants. Antioxidants are the cells' main defense against free radical damage linked to aging and many degenerative diseases. The physical damage caused by free radicals, which can also be seen in brain scans, is seen to correlate with the degree of memory loss, especially in patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The most common antioxidants are vitamins C and E, but there are many others that can be found in fruits like grapes, berries, plums and oranges, as well as in vegetables like spinach, broccoli, beets, onion, and brussels sprouts.
Not having these essential brain nutrients in your diet does not give you enough protection against age-related memory impairment-showing how malnutrition is synonymous with memory loss. If you can not get enough of these nutrients from the food you eat, taking supplements is a good alternative.
How is Malnutrition Synonymous With Memory Loss? by Matt Argyle