Do you ever walk into a room with a purpose, only to forget it upon arrival there? Or draw a blank when you see a familiar face you want to put a name to? Or struggle to pull the word you want from the tip of your tongue?
Such memory lapses are common, especially for those who run on little sleep, juggle multiple responsibilities, or are advancing in years. Some of us chalk them up to our hectic modern lives. The 24/7 plugged-in nature of our culture certainly plays a role in causing “senior moments,” even among twenty-somethings. But those of us who have witnessed competent, intelligent loved ones suffer the dehumanizing consequences of the dark slide into Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia know it isn’t a place any of us wants to go.
What can we do to prevent it? Anything that may help and won’t hurt—which can result in a long list that includes:
- Engaging in Regular Physical Exercise
- Exercising Memory by working crossword puzzles, playing musical instruments, or playing memory games
- Committing to a Regular Sleep Schedule with 4 consecutive REM cycles
- Eating a Diet Rich in Antioxidants
- Eating Blueberries Every Day
Wait, what? Blueberries? Yes! And here’s why.
Recent research, including some collaborative studies performed at Temple University, Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany, Perugia University in Italy, and St. Elisabeth Hospital in Cologne, Germany, shows that people eating diets rich in fruits and vegetables have better cognitive performance than those who don’t. It’s believed that the antioxidant properties of those foods lead to improved memory and overall mental functioning.
So why single out blueberries? Because the little sapphire-blue fruit gems are especially rich in flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant properties.
I eat blueberries, along with other berries, fruits, and vegetables every day. I look for the darkest blue ones when grocery shopping, because they are usually the ripest. The riper the berries are, the more antioxidant punch they will pack.
Since this fruit hits peak ripeness in mid-summer, most frozen blueberries are picked then, too. So, I use frozen berries during other times of the year. They make great shakes and smoothies since their seeds are tiny and blend with the other ingredients. And on National Blueberry Pie Day this week, I plan to eat the delicious blueberry pie from Easy Weekly Meals for Moms on the Go pictured here.
Blueberry bushes are native to North America and come in lots of sizes and varieties. If you’ve got a sunny spot on your property, and you’d like to arrange your own farm-to-table supply stream, you may enjoy growing your own berries. The shallow-rooted plants display flowers in the spring, yield fruit in the summer, and show off colorful fall foliage. When treated well, they can thrive for as long as 50 years. Some types require cross-fertilization with other shrubs, so check with your nature center before purchasing and planting. The vigorous activity needed to maintain beautiful gardens and the learning process of cultivation techniques can help you cross a couple of other items off of your brain-health maintenance list, too!