Click the play button on the video above to watch Dr. Sandy’s follow-along video to this article!
What to eat to improve your memory and thinking
You’re struggling to “remember”.
Maybe it’s just little things…………where you put the car keys or how to spell a particular word. Maybe it’s more SERIOUS.
Either way………….. it’s disconcerting and ominous.
You want to “fix” it.
But how ?
Researchers from the University of Sherbrooke, have gone back to basics – the solution they propose is simple, get your brain thinking BETTER, through FOOD.
“Thinking” takes energy
Your brain is an energy guzzler.
To put things in perspective. Your brain only weighs a kilogram or two. But it uses a quarter of all the energy you need to function.
That’s A LOT !
Now, you might be thinking…………………. no problem.
I’m eating WELL. Maybe, TOO WELL.
My brain cannot possibly be HUNGRY. It MUST be getting enough ENERGY !
Not so fast……
Brains hitting the OFF switch
When scientists scan the brains of people with serious cognitive difficulties, they always find regions that are running on fumes.
The term they use to describe this phenomenon, is hypometabolism i.e. little metabolism.
It’s not a big surprise.
When neurons are not “thinking” so good, they’re obviously not firing on all cylinders.
You expect their metabolism to be SLUGGISH. It’s the price of neuronal death and destruction…………….
Thinking brains can be sluggish too
When scientists look at the brains of people without serious cognitive difficulties, they often find regions of the brain, running on fumes.
And……… if they wait long enough, many of these thinking brains, slide into disrepair.
Catastrophic disrepair !
Suggesting, slow metabolism is not something that is happening, because there is a problem, IT IS PART OF THE PROBLEM.
So what causes metabolism to slow down….
Think about it, when you’re low on energy – you slow down.
If you’re really tapped out, you pass out.
If you’re a neuron facing an energy crisis, the logical thing to do, is TO STOP THINKING !
Feed me, Seemore, feed me
It sounds so simple, but neurons can get caught up in your bad body chemistry.
The food they like the most is sugar.
But, when you become insulin resistant, getting the sugar IN, can be a challenge. Now most of the time, it is the muscles, liver and fat cells that run into difficulty.
Neurons are privileged.
Except, when they’re NOT. Insulin resistance can arise in the brain. At this stage the details of when and why brain’s become insulin resistant are unclear. But what is clear, brain cells can and do go hungry !
And a hungry brain cell, won’t think clearly.
Just eat fats
This is the standard go to strategy of other body parts. When sugar is not available, they switch to consuming fatty acids.
But…….. neurons are FUSSY.
They don’t do fats in the form of fatty acids.
This is what fat cells happily dispatch and what the liver sends out all neatly packaged up, with cholesterol in lipoproteins.
Feed me ketones please
The plan B fuel for neurons are ketones. And old neurons LOVE them.
The liver can whip a batch, when the fuel situation in the body becomes low.
But the signal to do this – is a drop in sugar and insulin levels. And when you’re insulin resistant, insulin levels ARE NEVER LOW.
Those brain cells are STARVING ! And your thinking is compromised.
But there is another option…….
Quick & easy ketones
Fatty acids come in three varieties.
- Short chain (SCFA)
- Medium chain (MCFA)
- Long chain (LCFA)
The foods WE eat typically supply us with long chain fatty acids, these can be transformed into ketones, but only under the “right” circumstances.
But ketone production ALWAYS happens with medium chain fatty acids.
And you can get medium chain fatty acids in the diet ……………..
Medium chain fatty acids in the diet
Two foods, stand out as great sources of medium chain fatty acids.
- Breast milk
- Coconut oil
Since breast milk is not a practical option, this leaves coconut oil, either as is, or in a concentrated form, sold as MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides), as a great snack food for hungry brain cells.
And it’s quick and easy….
The instant pick me up
For hungry brain cells to snack on.
Medium chain fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial for “slowing” brains. So if you’re struggling to “remember”, why not give them a try. They are safe. Start with a spoon or two, add it to your coffee, porridge or pour it on your pasta. You will need to adjust the dose to meet the needs of your hungry brain cells, be mindful, to go slow, too much, too soon, can cause GIT distress.
NB. How much you need will depend on just how hungry your brain cells are.
NOTE : Coconut oil consists of approximate 9 % octanoic (caprylic) and 10 % decanoic (capric) acid . In MCT oil, these fatty acids have been concentrated, the exact levels depend on the particular brand of MCT oil.