Forget your waistline for a sec—some of your food choices could actually affect your memory and cognitive abilities. Here, 5 foods to go easy on if you want to keep your wits about you.
The soy controversy continues with a study published in the journal Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, which found an association between high tofu intake—a sizable 9 or more times per week, mind you—and an increased risk of cognitive impairment and memory loss. The study analyzed the tofu consumption of 719 Indonesian men and women and put them through a series of memory tests. Those who ate more than 9 servings a week faced greater memory challenges than those who did not. This is far from conclusive—the connection might be mere association, not cause—but researchers speculate that tofu’s phytoestrogens might affect brain function. Before you slink back to your steak habit, though, consider that tempeh, the popular fermented-soy food, was actually found to improve memory in the same study. (Cut your Alzheimer’s risk in half by selecting to eat these foods daily
While the debate about its effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease rages on, a study found that high levels of sodium intake paired with low levels of physical activity had a negative impact on cognitive abilities. For the study, Canadian researchers followed the physical activity and sodium consumption of 1262 participants, ages 67 to 84. The participants were placed into three groups: low-, mid-, and high-sodium intake. The most significant changes were seen in participants with low physical activity levels; people with lower sodium intake paired with lower physical activity levels showed slower cognitive decline than participants with high sodium levels and low physical activity. Happily, this is a reversible curse: The study, published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, discovered that regular exercise can counteract sodium’s negative effects on the brain, as well as the cardiovascular system.