It is best as always, to focus your efforts on having a fresh and healthy diet, when it comes to improving any aspect of your mental and physical health. However, there are some specific foods as well as dietary supplements which can have a positive effect on boosting your memory. Many people over the years have told me that they “feel like they are walking around with their head in a fog”.

Maybe you’re not quite as quick to remember a name as you once were or you find that common words seem to continuously slip your mind. Certain foods can actually help to boost your brainpower, clear away your mental fog and leave you with quicker thinking skills. Have a look at the list below, and by choosing these foods will not only make you appear more smart to those around you, such foods and herbs will actually help you to increase your memory, your mental clarity and ability to think better generally.


Blueberries help to prevent stress and inflammation-induced damage to the hippocampus, and may even retard the degeneration of the hippocampus that occurs with the progression of the aging process. This wonderful fruit is one of the most potent foods you can eat as you age. Do try to include some into your diet.

Avoid Sugar

Sugar is not really a food as such, but it is a good one to bring to your attention to avoid. If you want to perform at your top level, intelligence, memory or otherwise, it is imperative to limit, if not completely avoid, sugar in your diet. High-sugar foods (like snack bars, fizzy drinks, lollies, etc) will disrupt your body’s homeostasis and insulin/blood sugar levels, which will contribute to many different disease as well as brain fog. Stop drinking any high sugar drinks – this is a good start. Aspartame may impair memory due to the toxic aspartic acid and methanol components of aspartame. Are you into artificial sugars still ? Instead try Stevia or Xylitol.

Reduce saturated fatty acids (SFA)

Research on rats has demonstrated that memory impairment is directly associated with SFA intake. And make sure you get foods that reduce cholesterol and improve blood flow to your brain, like dark chocolate (small amounts), grape juice, tea, garlic and onions.

Fruit and vegetable juices

The best “brain juices” would have to be organically sourced broccoli, celery, carrots and also peeled cucumber.


But I can’t eat eggs, my cholesterol will go up, I hear you saying. Are you one of those who still believe that eating one to two eggs per day will elevate your cholesterol levels? If you are thinking about dietary solutions to improve your health in general, including your vision and your memory it would be wise to consider adding egg yolks to your diet. They are loaded with vital nutrients like phosphatidylcholine and serine that have been well documented in ample research to improve your memory. Go for free range, naturally.


Have you seen lecithin? It is a yellow waxy substance derived from Soy bean. A study was performed involving 61 healthy, older adults aged 50 to 80 years, who were given either 2 tablespoons (15 grams) of lecithin or a placebo for five weeks. The memory test scores of those subjects receiving lecithin improved significantly. The lecithin group also reported a 48% decrease in memory lapses. And – best of all – this stuff is quite reasonably priced, and available from your supermarket’s bulk food bins.

Omega 3

Another excellent solution to improve your memory is to make sure you take enough Omega 3 in your diet: take about 3000mg of fish oil daily. Of course, be careful if you take Cartia or Warfarin. If you take any form of pharmaceutical medication, it is always wise to check with your pharmacist or health care practitioner when you start taking this level of Omega 3 daily.

Your brain is made up of 60% fat and half of that fat is DHA, one of the primary fatty acids in fish oil. I am continually impressed how many of my patients experience dramatic improvement in their memory and cognition once they start increasing their fish oil.


Some of the best herbal medicines to take for a flagging memory are Korean and Siberian ginseng. Recent evidence suggests that administration of Ginseng can improve memory performance in both animals and in humans. The most striking result was a significant improvement in “quality of memory”  after taking 400 mg of Korean ginseng, according to British 2001 research at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Ginkgo biloba

In a French clinical trial in 1986, 8 healthy women received a single dose of Ginkgo biloba (either 120, 240 or a 600 mg dose) or a placebo dose (basically nothing). One hour after receiving Ginkgo biloba, short term memory was assessed. It was found that short term memory was very significantly improved following 600 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract, as compared with a placebo.

I find this herb great for anybody over the age of 50 generally. Dr. Alfred Vogel, the well known Swiss Naturopath, once said that everybody over 65 should take a standardised Ginkgo biloba extract for a minimum of 6 months to experience its benefits.

Other herbs which you may want to look at more closely in terms of brain function are Astragalus, Rosemary, Bacopa, and Gotu kola.

Other things you may want to avoid

Heavy metals – they come up all the time when it comes to brain health. A simple Hair Analysis test will determine the levels. Lead, arsenic and mercury toxicity are the most indicated here. Be on the lookout also for high copper in the hair.

Elevated homocysteine levels may cause memory impairment. We have spoken about Homocysteine on previous occasions, get it checked out by your doctor by way of a “fasting test.”


Do you believe that as you age your memory should decline as well? This is not necessarily the case – especially if you are pro-active and do something about it! Start today with some of the exercises and brain specific foods.


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Eric Bakker is the clinical director of The Naturopaths and holds a Bachelor Degree of Science majoring in Complementary Health Care, as well as separate diploma qualifications in Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine and Homeopathy. Eric has 20 years clinical experience in natural medicine, and received post-graduate natural medicine training in Australia, India, America as well as New Zealand. Eric has four children and lives in the sunny Hawkes Bay

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