Want to do something to help improve concentration and memory? Try a glass of blueberry juice and you’ll be giving your brain a boost says a new study on blueberries health benefits in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
According to the groundbreaking research, a daily drink of wild blueberry juice improved the memory of older subjects who were known to have memory problems related to age.
Experts have long believed that what we eat and drink has an impact on thinking capacity, but this is the first work to show the benefit of a food like blueberries in helping the memory of older people who are already at risk for dementia.
While some lapses in memory or slowing down of thinking are a normal part of getting older, significant memory loss is not.
Surprisingly, the brain is able to produce new cells at any age, and can be trained or learn new things at any age. What we often put down to forgetfulness is more accurately a slowing down of the brain’s ability to absorb, store and retrieve new information.
“The findings of this preliminary study suggest that moderate-term blueberry supplementation can confer neurocognitive benefit,” says researcher Robert Krikorian, of the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center.
A group of participants in their 70s who had signs of age related memory decline drank almost two and a half cups of commercially available blueberry juice each day, while a control group of subjects drank a berry flavored, non-juice beverage in similar amounts. The study lasted two months
The team conducted memory tests, like word associations and word list recall, at both the start and end of the study period.
The results? Those who drank the blueberry juice had significant improvement in learning and memory tests compared to the demographically matched sample that drank the non-juice beverage.
The blueberry juice drinkers also reported fewer symptoms of depression and had lower glucose levels. More work will be done to confirm these details, but the benefits of the blueberries on memory seem pretty clear.
Blueberries, beyond being tasty, have a great deal of phytochemicals, known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
Earlier studies on animals have found that polyphenols in blueberries (known as anthocyanins) have increased signaling in brain centers linked to memory. They also aid the brain in getting rid of glucose.
Beyond what you eat, there are other things you can do to keep your mind sharp as you age. Exercise regularly as this brings more oxygen to your brain. Eat a healthy diet with fruits (including blueberries), veggies, whole grains and healthy fats.
Stress can be a terrible drain on your mind, so you’ll need to do all you can to manage the stress in your life. Be sure you get a good night’s sleep, and if you’re not, take steps to improve your sleep habits.
Lastly, don’t smoke, as this increases the risk of vascular disorders that can cause stroke or constrict arteries that bring oxygen to the brain.
If you find you’re already forgetting more than you’d like, here things you can do…
– Use notes or checklists to keep yourself organized.
– Put important appointments/dates in a planner, calendar or electronic organizer.
– Put things you use all the time in the same spot every time.
– Write down the steps for complex, or difficult to remember tasks.
– Use an alarm clock or timer to help you remember when to leave or do something.
– Rely on maps, GPS systems, or family and friends to help get yourself from point A to point B.
– Learn new things faster by listening closely when someone talks, repeat back the information, focus on one thing at a time and try to have your session in quiet, distraction free places.
– Do mental exercise – play strategy games, try crossword or number puzzles, read newspapers and magazines that challenge you, learn new things like games, recipes or driving routes, take a course in a subject you don’t know or try a project that calls for design and planning.
– Social interaction aids the brain by challenging the mind and helping to ease stress or symptoms of depression brought on by isolation.
Remember, to a great extent, keeping your brain healthy and sharp in the years to come is within your control. All you have to do is get started to see results whereby you improve concentration and memory.