"The true art of memory is the art of attention" - Samuel Johnson
Why is it that as soon as we struggle to remember where we last placed our keys or to decipher the name of an old high school friend, we immediately assume we’re on a slippery downward slope towards dementia?!
We don’t notch it up to high stress levels (cortisol stress hormone can help with memory formation, but blunt our ability to recall information), to a lack of essential nutrients (such as omega 3 essential fatty acids, vitamin E or choline) or even an inflammatory diet (one high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and junk food, but low in plant foods and lean animal proteins).
The good news is, we can begin to see this 'ditzy' behaviour as just a phase. We can sharpen our brain at any point in our life. The latest brain research is increasingly demonstrating that the brain is far more malleable than originally thought, with the capacity to continually grow new brain cells and to make new neural connections throughout your life, EVEN IN ADVANCING YEARS.
The default state of the human body after all, is regeneration.
The question is no longer whether it’s possible to regenerate your brain, but the best way to enhance the growth of those little grey cells, through a processed called ‘neurogenesis’.
This is wonderfully encouraging. It means having a genetic predisposition to 'dementia' or ‘Alzheimers’ it not a life sentence you are doomed to serve. Epigenetics (the study of factors that modify gene expression) demonstrates that how you live your life, the food you nourish yourself with, the environment you surround yourself with, the thoughts you have, how you exercise your brain 'muscle' are what determine whether you come under the hammer or not.
Studies are showing that cognitive decline can be improved or brain function further enhanced through the consumption of a Mediterranean diet, with an abundance of antioxidant-rich vegetables, olive oil, nuts, saffron, lean protein such as fish and chicken and moderate amounts of polyphenol rich red wine..
Having dashed out the house to collect Benji, and found myself gripping a highlighter pen instead of my house keys, I realised some Mediterranean nosh might do me some good . I was inspired to whip up this Portuguese cod dish. Super simple, super yummy and super brain-boosting.
I made it by placing par-boiled potato slices, black olives, walnuts, onions, olive oil, rosemary and chopped parsley in to a baking dish and baking for 45 minutes at 185C. The cod steaks were then placed on top of the mix, coated with some olive oil ‘juice’ and more chopped parsley, and then baked for a further 20-25 minutes, and… “Bom Apetite!"
NB: Serve with kale cooked with olive oil & garlic, or broccolini/broccoli rabe