Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Memory; remember when you had one?

Remember our last post, which was also our first post? Well that first post won't be our last, and here's the proof, yes I've actually remembered to write another one . . . you poor souls you! What are we going to discuss today......? Oh yes, how could I forget . . .

Speaking of memory, recently I discovered that a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition had found that spikes in blood sugar can interfere with your short term memory. This may well surprise a few people, it did me, although I can't quite recall why? Never mind, let's move on, to start with I would like to take a quick look at:

How Blood Glucose Works

In simple terms, for the sake of our health, blood-glucose levels need to remain within certain levels. The body regulates these blood sugar levels using two mechanisms: hunger and insulin.

When blood-glucose levels fall, the brain causes us to feel hungry. Result? We eat food that is converted into glucose and our blood sugar levels rise. If we don't eat and blood-glucose levels fall too low, we trigger the condition known as hypoglycemia.

When our blood-glucose levels rise, the brain tells our pancreas to release insulin. The result? The insulin helps to disperse the glucose and our blood sugar levels fall. Without insulin to regulate a rise in blood-glucose, the amount of sugar in our bloodstream can become toxic, triggering the condition known as hyperglycemia.

Effect of Carbohydrate Foods on Blood Glucose Levels

When carbs are eaten and digested, they are converted to glucose and enter the bloodstream where they raise blood-glucose levels. How fast these carbs raise blood-sugar levels depends on their glycemic index value.

Individual carb-containing foods or (more commonly) carb-containing meals with a high glycemic index value cause a "spike" in blood-glucose levels. Meaning, our blood-sugar rises very fast, triggering an equally rapid response from the pancreatic gland which pumps out enough insulin to deal with the excess blood sugar. Result? Within an hour or so, the large secretion of insulin has dispersed all the excess blood glucose and then some. So we feel hungry again!!

Individual carb-containing foods or carb-containing meals with a low glycemic index value raise blood-glucose levels in a slower more sustained manner. So the pancreas responds by releasing a more moderate amount of insulin. Result? Hunger is kept at bay and we feel satisfied for longer.

Carbs and Blood Glucose Levels - Bottom Line

Not all carbohydrates cause a "spike" or rapid rise in blood sugar. Only carbs with a high glycemic value do this. Some diet "experts" imply that all carbs are bad for our blood-sugar levels. This is not proven to be true. Indeed, even the effect of higher glycemic index carbs can be mitigated by combining them with lower glycemic value foods.

Ready To Have Your Nutritional Cake And Eat It?

Obviously, natural sugars are best. The real problem nutritionally relates to all the unnatural sweet foods, drinks and those over refined carbs that the westernized world is so fond of. The good news is that there are some naturally sweet foods that are in fact very good for the memory. There is even a top ten chart of memory foods; I would tell you what they are, but I can't remem . . .

Sorry, I know, these memory puns are getting to be old hat now. Here is some more old hat for you to remember, which is also proof that Eskimo's have memory problems as much as we do:

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft it sank.
This proves once and for all that you can't have your kayak and heat it, too.

This also proves that Eskimo's have forgotten what kayak's are made of, and that fire will, surprisingly, feed on it; I don't hold out much hope for their continued survival :-(

Back to the serious stuff, here are ten foods that may (sorry, I have to use the word may not will ;-) improve your memory, if you can remember to eat them. You might notice that many of the foods on this list are red or purple in color. That's because the phytochemical that colours them, anthocyanin, is the same phytochemical that's good for your brain.

The top ten memory foods are blueberries, apples, spinach, onions, broccoli, beetroot, grapes, cherries, aubergine and rosemary.

Let's you and I take a quick look at just one of these vital food types; blueberries.

Focus On Blueberries:

Blueberries have been shown in numerous studies to do wonderful things for memory and the brain in general. Blueberries are rich in Vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene as well as rich in the minerals potassium, manganese, magnesium. They are very high in fiber and low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. But this is just the tip of the nutritional iceberg, for recent studies tell us that of all fresh fruits and vegetables, blueberries provide the most health-protecting antioxidants, those valuable elements which prevent cancer-causing cell damage and may limit the changes wrought by age related diseases. Basically, blueberries are a vital food source, best we consume them, yes?

It has been said that we are what we eat, but if we are what we eat, then wouldn't we be what we drink as well? Our bodies are 60% water, and our brain is about 75% water, so it's obvious that water can impact our health. While there is no research to show that drinking water improves our memory, it has been shown that even a small amount of dehydration leads to confusion and problems with memory. In other words, don't wait to drink.

I start the day with a smoothie, which is like consuming a meal in a drink, and I'm going to share with you my favourite recipe, which includes two of the top ten memory foods, here goes:

Take one large banana, a good fist full of blueberries, a few grapes, a couple of table spoons of natural yogurt and add some natural fruit juice to the mix; cranberry, blueberry or grape are my preferred choice. Now, the grapes are optional, I happen to love them, you would never know, right? But some people find that the grape peel makes the smoothie less smooth, therefore choosing to leave grapes out. This is one tasty, energising recipe, so remember to store it to memory . . . and remember to store the ingredients! Will it produce a spike in your blood sugar levels? Sorry, I have absolutely no memory of that ever happening to me . . .

. . . I found my thrill on blueberry hill . . .

Warning: This is a blue video, it's fruity in the extreme, you should not watch it if you are happy to remain ignorant of the health benefits attributed to Blueberry Hill on the life of Louise Armstrong, who was a real smoothie if ever there was one! No rats were harmed in the making of this video, although they may well have been well fed.

Well there you go, that's another fruity post you've consumed, I hope it was delicious enough for you, and that you'll return for another serving of the fruit of Life in the near future.


PS. Oh yes, remember in our last post, which was not our last post because you've just been served a second helping, you were asked to consume 300 calories of humoUr, laughter and smiling each and every day? Well now you can add to that a minimum of half a cup, up to a whole cup, of blueberries each and every day of your life from now on; and don't you forget to remember to do that smooth(ie)ly now ;-)


  1. nice new blog theme.

    I forgot half way down what I was reading. Not enough blueberries today.

  2. Thanks Ta Wan, nice of you to comment . . and to acknowledge the theme.

    This was definitely a fruit based post, if I remember correctly, although I suspect there will be others more so in the future. This blog is meant to be a light hearted look at life, but with a twist of usefulness. Nothing too deep, apart from when it is ;-)

    By the way readers, Ta Wan has a really great blog called...oh, I forget .....

    Go to:

  3. What type of fruit do ghosts eat?

    I forgot the answer.

    Oh yeah, now I remember: Booberries!

  4. Spooky! Shall we 'Methodically' Boo him good people? No? You're far kinder than I!

    Nice one, and on theme as well, there's 'method' in your humoUr ;-)

  5. Good advice Doug. I explain to my clients alot about how Food is Mood. Food, when not taken correctly, is like medicine. If taken at the wrong time and at the wrong dosage/amount, becomes poison. If taken properly enhances your life. Change your food...change your mood.

    Plus...eat with a good sense of laughter and joy. It enhances the quality of the food and its effects. State of mind is paramount...but I am preaching to the choir now...take care and good post.

  6. Shinzen, thanks for the kind words, I know that this is one of your subjects, and your advice is always welcome here....

    I love that quote, "Food is Mood." Indeed, isn't it just, very interesting ... do you want to write a guest post on that very subject? I would be very pleased to have you do just that my friend... but you have to make it 'fruity' and end with a video link and a quirky 'Warning' ha, ha...

    Your Choice, I'll leave it with you to consider :-)

  7. Thank you for the invite...great food for thought! Give me a few days to produce. Work has me swamped!

  8. Yeah, working in a swamp always gives me the same 'sinking' feeling too, hm. There is no urgency, you can write the post at your leisure and get it to me by six am, no probs....

    Seriously though, it would be great to have a guest post from you as and when you can find the time Shinzen. Just let me know, as and when ;-)

  9. You said, "Remember our last post, which was also our first post? Well that first post won't be our last." Ha, ha. Great chiasmus. I treasure chiasmus wherever I can find it.

    Health and nutrition isn't a light and happy topic to me, rather frustrating, in fact. Maybe if you keep up with posts like these, I'll lighten up a little. It's been a long and hard road for me, you see, just trying to keep my children healthy and undo damage done by doctors. And, by the way, humour (I spelled it Brit style for you) is free, but blueberries, sadly, are an expensive commodity. I wonder if I could grow them in the desert . . .

  10. Arabella, hello again, thanks for the compliment. It seems chiasmus(she has much) to say concerning my chiasmus....Ooo, sorry, Very bad word play, but I never can resist!

    I have four wonderful children, two have serious health challenges with learning difficulties, and I've had a few of my own over the years, but life is still good despite the trials and tribulations.

    Working to a budget is never easy, I know through personal experience, but healthy commodities/options do cost more than the unhealthy options in the short term, but in the long term, well, unhealthy options bring about an unhealthy result! It IS a balancing act and everyone has to walk their own tightrope the best they can. All any of us can do is our best in any given set of circumstances.

    Nutritionally I have found, very often, that less is more. Less in quantity, but more in quality, brings a better balance. I definitely eat less in quantity than the average human being, but the quality is high and the balance is right.

    I do, however, suspect that growing blueberries in the desert may prove to be a challenge! Frozen blueberries are generally cheaper and will still do the required job. I look out for all the three for the price of two type offers as well ;-)

  11. I'm sorry your children have serious health challenges. I have four as well, with moderate health problems such as asthma. Honestly, I believe that life is better with trials; it really is. How could I call myself a writer (and I do) if I'd never experienced challenges? As a mother, though, I don't like seeing my children go through trials. A silly perspective, I know.

    Yes, healthy food is better in the long run. We regularly spend about 30% of our income on groceries, and I supplement with my seasonal garden. BTW, I don't know about the UK, but in the US, we pay a lot more for whole, staple foods than for packaged goods.

  12. Thanks for the reply Arabella, my only point is that behind the scenes, most of us have our challenges; I don't put a brave face on things, NO. I am genuinely in a state of 'love' with life, which is why I say that life is good, and well worth enjoying regardless of the challenges.

    My greatest challenge was at the end of a long term relationship when I found myself without my family, out of work, without a home to live in, with no transport and I had to rebuild my life; all the major stress factors all in one big hit, but that was exactly what I needed to go through at that particular point in life. It brought about a 'shift in consciousness', and life moved on. Sometimes you have to lose everything in order to realise that you already have everything, and that life is already good just as it is. Enough of that for now ;-)

    Yes, we also pay a lot more for whole, staple foods than for packaged goods.