If I told you I had a pill that had no downside whatsoever and it helped reduce age related memory loss, would you take it? Guess what, it’s exercise! Open your door and walk 15 minutes in one direction and 15 minutes back.
You’ve probably heard of the Mediterranean diet and entertained visions of mounds of pasta drizzled in olive oil. Make that whole-grain pasta, and you’ve got yourself a deal. But the fresh fish, in-season produce, olive oil, wine, and yes, pasta, of the Mediterranean isn’t the whole story. Europeans walk. Everywhere.
It’s this balance of healthy whole foods (no Mediterranean mama would serve you out of a box or can) and exercise that is the real key to a healthy lifestyle – and long memory.
Let’s break down the diet first. Seafood and olive oil are everywhere and are both sources of Omega-3 fatty acids that help your brain function better. In Mediterranean cuisine, fresh green olive oil is often drizzled lightly over vine-ripened tomatoes from the morning market, with basil leaves picked minutes before from the terra cotta pot in the garden. The concentration is on eating whole fresh foods, and walking to and from that morning market!
- Try grilling white fish lightly brushed with oil and served with a squeeze of lemon on top of fresh asparagus, or serve on top of zucchini “pasta” with cherry tomatoes and pine nuts.
- Diets rich in leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and chard also help memory function. Try Greek Spanikopita (cooked spinach wrapped in phyllo) or Turkish Cacik – a spinach yogurt dip with garlic, lemon juice, dill, parsley, mint and EVOO.
- And let’s not forget coffee. Greek coffee, Italian espresso, or French café latte – caffeine has been shown to slow memory loss (black tea works just as well). Unfiltered coffee can raise your HDL cholesterol though, so if that is a concern, stay away from espresso and French Press methods. Check with your doctor before adding caffeine to your diet if you have high blood pressure, IBS, or Crohn’s disease.
But most importantly – remember to walk every day. Remember that, and you’ll be amazed at how much more you remember for the rest of your life.