Is your mind as sharp as it used to be? by Goodhealth

Is your mind as sharp as it used to be?

April 17, 2023

Not as quick as you used to be? We all experience moments where we can’t quite put our finger on something, or a memory or fact has totally escaped us. Maybe it’s forgetting things like places we’ve been, people’s names, or (and probably the most infuriating) where we’ve put something. Whilst this is normal once in a while, when it becomes a regular occurrence and starts affecting our lives it could be worth paying closer attention.

Is your mind as sharp as it used to be?

Research suggests that it’s more common for people from the age of around 45 to 65 to start noticing the effects of slower brain function. Especially for people in the workforce, who are constantly keeping up with the rapid minds of younger colleagues. It could take longer for you to grasp a new concept or digest information. Once in a while, this behaviour is perfectly normal and can usually be put down to tiredness, stress or simply part of aging. However, constantly feeling this way is sometimes a sign of the beginning of something more serious.

Why are our memories getting worse?

As we’ve said, sometimes this can be due to effects of stress or poor sleep, which unfortunately for most of us, is a regular occurrence. Genetics play their part in this, but lifestyle and diet are the most important factors that can affect our brain function.

How to reduce the risks

We’ll start off with the obvious – don’t smoke. Smoking may damage your brain by causing thinning in your cortex, which is important for thought processes such as memory. This does thin naturally with age but smoking potentially helps to speed it up. Smoking also affects blood flow to the brain.

Stay active, both physically and mentally. Regular exercise that gets your heart pumping appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Exercise also helps your memory and thinking through its ability to reduce insulin resistance and stimulate the release of growth factors, especially through the building of muscle. Growth factors are the chemicals in the brain that affect the proliferation and growth of new brain cells.

Don’t underestimate the benefits a difficult crossword can have. Anything that makes us use our brain is good for us. Even little things like socialising and reading a book do wonders for improving our brain function, but the most effective way to “use it or lose it” is to learn a new skill every day. This could be a language, an instrument, or DIY skills, etc.

Putting the right stuff in your body

Of course, there’re plenty of other ways to help your brain function; However, what you put in your body is incredibly important. When we’re in our teens or twenties, we can try to get away with not eating healthy foods and having a less than healthy lifestyle, but once you hit middle age, you need to take a more serious approach. The brain needs specific nutrients to keep it functioning properly. Without them, mental sharpness, focus, concentration, and general brain function all start to go haywire. Luckily there are specific brain food supplements that can help ensure you’re getting everything you need. While the best thing to do is to eat nutrient-dense food right from the get-go, as with exercise, it is never too late to make changes.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) supports the communication between your brain cells, which is crucial to proper brain function. It’s naturally found in your brain, but levels decline as you get older. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re getting enough iodine in your diet, as deficiency is associated with lower intelligence and learning disorders. Choline is essential for supporting brain function and we often do not get enough. Vitamin B12 deficiency is commonly associated with neurological problems and absorption decreases as we age. Folate (vitamin B9) is needed in the manufacture of brain neurotransmitters (the brain’s chemical messengers), which helps with mood stability and clarity. Amino acids like carnitine, taurine, and creatine are essential for brain function and, although we make them in our body, we usually do not make enough and have to get them from our diet. Essential fatty acids DHA and arachidonic acid are omega 3 and 6 fats that our brain cannot develop and function without. This list is not exhaustive, as there are many brain nutrients to consider, including minerals like iron and zinc, and vitamins like A, D3, and the other Bs.

Think about what you eat

All of the afore-mentioned essential nutrients and more can be obtained in an animal-based diet, not in a plant-based one. An animal-based diet isn’t just delicious and fresh; it is also beneficial for and supportive of brain function and can help protect you against cognitive decline. So, if you’re not already a big fan of the following foods, think about including them in your diet. Some say the Mediterranean diet is the bee’s knees when it comes to brain and overall health; However, the most long-lived and healthy people in the world have all eaten diets rich in land and sea animal meats, organs, eggs, and milks, just as they do in the Mediterranean countries. Meat contains all of the nutrients and cofactors that are essential for brain function.

Fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and the oiler the better. Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are some of the best fish you can eat, as they’re particularly high in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is very important to keep our brain cells functioning normally. Fish and shellfish are a great source of iodine and easily absorbed proteins. The Omega-6, Arachidonic acid, is also essential for brain function. Beef and lamb, with the fat on, are also good sources of Omega-3s and 6s in the optimum ratios. Phosphatidylserine is the most bioavailable in animal foods.

If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of folate, chicken and lamb livers are fantastic foods to include in your diet as they’re packed with it. Much less folate is lost with cooking livers than with cooking any folate-containing vegetable. Liver, eggs, and an avocado for breakfast will provide the RDA in folate for an adult. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods, as are the amino acids, carnitine, taurine, and creatine.

The healthy fats you get from animal sources contain all the fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins you need for a healthy brain. They also contain Vitamin E, contrary to what we’re told. Vitamin E is a great antioxidant – and not to mention tasty. Avocados and activated nuts and seeds contain vitamin E but not the other fat-soluble vitamins, A, D3, and K2.

Look after your brain; you’re using it even when you’re not thinking about it. Every strange thought or new idea that pops into your head is your brain working like it should. Without it, the world would be a very boring place. As you get older, important brain nutrients start to decline and need to be replenished by eating better quality food and paying more attention to your lifestyle choices. And think about tackling that crossword next time you’re flipping through a newspaper or magazine, it could just keep your thinking sharp for a long time.


How can I reduce the risks of cognitive decline?

Adopting a healthy lifestyle by avoiding smoking, staying physically and mentally active, and engaging in activities that stimulate the brain can help reduce the risks of cognitive decline.

What nutrients are important for supporting brain function?

Nutrients such as phosphatidylserine (PS), iodine, vitamin B12, and folate are crucial for maintaining mental sharpness, focus, and overall brain function. Supplements may be necessary if intake is poor or digestive is declining with age.