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How Can Nutrition Support Cognitive Health in Seniors With Memory Loss?

How Can Nutrition Support Cognitive Health in Seniors With Memory Loss?

You’ve probably heard about the mind-body connection and how our mental health can directly impact our physical health. The mind-body connection can work in the other direction, too. Certain nutrients and healthy foods that we eat on a daily basis can improve our physical health and support and benefit our cognitive health. 

Of course, nutrition is just one part of a comprehensive approach to health and wellness. At the Mission at Agua Fria, we view each resident’s well-being holistically, providing services and amenities that support each individual’s physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and social needs. When it comes to eating well, our residents thrive with our chef-crafted, nutritious, and delicious meals served every day that incorporate many of the foods discussed below. 

The following guide discusses the many different dietary choices for foods rich in brain-boosting nutrients. You’ll also find some practical tips for incorporating healthy nutrition into your life and a list of foods that can help with memory loss and promote healthy cognitive function. 

Foods That Help With Memory Loss

To get a better idea of which foods are beneficial for maximizing your memory and general cognitive health, it helps to know what nutrients our brains need. The descriptions below outline how each nutrient helps and include a list of foods that are good sources of each nutrient.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Recent studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids have many positive effects on brain function, including improved ability to learn, increased memory, more blood flow to the brain, and better overall cognitive well-being.

Foods containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Fatty fishes like salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, and mackerel
  • Cod liver oil
  • Oysters
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Soybeans
  • Spinach
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Enriched eggs


When your body breaks down food and when you exercise, your body also produces free radicals. Although free radicals are necessary for certain functions like fighting infections, when your body has an excess of them, it leads to oxidative stress, which can damage your body. Antioxidants help balance out free radicals. Increasing your intake of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables is an excellent step for your health in general. Still, it can also help protect your cognitive function and counteract oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain.

Foods containing high levels of antioxidants:

  • Berries, especially blueberries and strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Purple grapes
  • Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Pomegranates

Complex Carbohydrates

Your brain cells need glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down, so they are a better source of steady, sustained glucose to feed your brain. They are also high in folate, which has been found to improve memory.

Foods containing high levels of complex carbohydrates:

  • Whole-grain couscous
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Chickpeas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Black beans
  • Cracked wheat

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Inflammation is one of the body’s defense mechanisms when the immune system recognizes something harmful or foreign in the body. Chronic inflammation, however, is unhealthy. Dietary sources with anti-inflammatory properties can widen blood vessels and increase blood flow to the brain, which is necessary for optimal brain health. 

Anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Turmeric
  • Healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, and nuts
  • Fatty fish
  • Green, leafy vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges)

Practical Tips for Incorporating Foods that Help With Memory Loss 

The following are some easy steps to include more foods in your daily diet that help with memory loss and reduce other things in your diet and routine that can negatively impact brain health.

Eat the Rainbow

Bright colors characterize many healthy foods on the lists above. When you try to eat foods from each color of the rainbow as often as possible, you will also enjoy many foods that help with memory loss. For instance, a fruit salad with strawberries (red), oranges (orange), blueberries (blue), and grapes (purple) provides a quick boost of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods. Throw in some walnuts and chia seeds for fatty acids, and you have an even healthier snack.

Consider the Mediterranean Diet

Eating a diet that is healthy overall and includes many fruits, vegetables, and whole foods is one of the best ways to take care of yourself. If you’re interested in an anti-inflammatory diet, the Mediterranean diet focuses on many foods listed above, including fish, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. 

Choose Low-Glycemic Foods

Although carbohydrates are essential to a healthy diet, when refined or highly processed (like in white bread or rice, table sugar, sugary drinks, etc.), they digest rapidly, raise blood sugar quickly, and can cause inflammation. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates have a low glycemic index, which means they digest slower and release the necessary sugar and energy in a steady way that better supports cognitive function. Limiting processed foods and sugars can help fight inflammation and ensure increased blood flow, including to the brain, which is important for brain function.

Other Things to Remember

There are a few other practical things to keep in mind to protect your cognitive functions. First of all, remember to stay hydrated. Dehydration can have a significantly negative impact on cognitive function. Remember to drink plenty of water, especially after exercise, and eat hydrating foods like fruit. 

It’s also important to make sure that you have enough iron in your diet. Iron in our bodies is essential for moving oxygen, including to the brain. Iron deficiency can result in cognitive impairment. Red meat, poultry, lentils, and spinach are all rich dietary sources of iron. 

How The Mission at Agua Fria Supports Cognitive Health

Maintaining good cognitive health is an important aspect of independence and a high quality of life for seniors. Reducing stress, staying physically and mentally active, and enjoying thriving social connections all work together to help seniors live well. At the Mission at Agua Fria, we facilitate our residents’ health and wellness through:

  • Exercise programs and therapy for physical health and stress relief
  • Dining services with nutritious meals full of foods that help with memory loss
  • Classes, activities, outings, and cognitive games and therapy encourage lifelong learning, which is vital for cognitive health
  • Ample opportunities for social connections for mental and emotional health
  • Housekeeping, personal care services, and transportation for stress-free living

If you’d like to learn more about the Mission at Agua Fria, check out our website or contact us to ask questions or schedule a tour. We would love to hear from you!