It’s funny to me how some nutrition-related stories make splashy headlines, yet others fall on deaf ears.
And I’m not sure why this one particular topic has become a top story on multiple news outlets, but I’m happy about it.
It’s something we inherently know… that eating a Western-style diet, like the Standard American Diet (SAD), can exacerbate memory loss.
But, astonishingly enough, researchers are recommending a prevention strategy that involves boosting the intake of a dietary compound. (How un-American!)
Here’s everything you need to know…
A new study found that replenishing flavanol intake—in mildly deficient individuals 60 years and older—BOOSTS cognitive performance.
The research team has been working with flavanols—dietary compounds found in plant-based foods—for the past 15 years. And they’re thrilled to have discovered that flavanols improve a part of the brain’s hippocampus that’s essential for learning and forming new memories.
In fact, preliminary studies in mice found that epicatechin (a type of flavanol) enhances the growth of neurons and blood vessels and, therefore, improves memory.
For this new study, researchers followed over 3,500 healthy adults for three years to analyze the brain-boosting effects of a flavanol supplement.
Half of the participants received 500 mg of flavanols, including 80 mg of epicatechin, in pill-form (the daily recommended amount). The other half received a placebo.
After just one year, the supplement group saw their memory scores increase by 10.5 percent, on average. This trend continued for the next two years, based on annual screening.
Notably, participants were also following a poor diet. Which suggests replenishing this one dietary compound through supplementation—in those eating a flavanol-deficient diet—could mitigate the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Different stages bring different needs
With so many people living longer lives, this is crucial research.
Case in point: We didn’t realize the developing mind of infants and children have different nutritional needs than adults until relatively recently. And now, it appears the aging brain needs specific nutrients as well.
Researchers even went as far as to recommend flavanol supplements to those in their 40s and 50s to lessen the risk of memory loss in later life.
And since I know how hard it is to convince some people to change their dietary habits, a daily flavanol supplement is a great alternative. But, as always, I stand behind lifestyle changes first.
You can find flavanols in many foods, including dark chocolate, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, apples, peaches, pears, pecans, hazelnuts, green and black teas, red wine, and more. (I don’t routinely recommend all of these options due to their sugar content, but they’re at least better than processed foods.)
For additional ways to enhance your brain and ward off cognitive decline, check out my Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Plan. Click here to learn more about this innovative, online learning tool.
“Flavanol-rich foods can protect against age-related memory loss.” StudyFinds, 05/30/2023. (studyfinds.org/flavanol-rich-foods-memory-loss/)