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9 Brain Builders and 3 Brain Drainers Boomer Women Need to Consider in Their Diet

As I slide into my 70s, I find myself forgetting names with more regularity every day. It’s getting so common that I often stay out of conversations because I can’t remember the name of the politician or the friend or the singer I want to pontificate on.

Is that sad or what? Well, I probably talk too much anyway.

But it begs the question, what can I do about this memory drain? Am I doomed to what my friends call “halfs-heimers”?

I know all too well that a good night’s sleep improves my memory, and I always sleep better when I exercise, so those behaviors can help. But what can I do about my diet? That might be something else I can control.

Just this morning, I was enticed by an ad for the “5 Worst Foods for Memory.” Really? I couldn’t resist clicking on it.

Food Might Be My Issue!

After watching a video for five minutes of introduction (endless), I decided to try Google. I typed in “Harvard,” “diet,” and “Alzheimer’s,” and voila! I found a wealth of information, and I didn’t have to spend an hour listening to Dr. Whoever drone on to get it.

According to the Harvard Medical School newsletter, the best foods for memory are prevalent in the Mediterranean diet (go figure). How many times have we been told to eat like the Mediterranean cultures?

Memory Builders

I’ve reorganized Harvard’s list to prioritize the foods with the most recommended servings per week. I plan to post it on my refrigerator and suggest that you do the same. (Unless, of course, you have perfect memory. Lucky you!)

Whole Grains

Whole grains need to make 21 servings of our weekly food. Try for at least three servings daily. These include oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat bread.

Red Wine

Known to aid our digestion, red wine also helps our brain. Consume 7 servings per week, but no more than one glass daily.

Leafy Vegetables

Fresh and cooked leafy veggies feed our brain very well if we keep to at least 6 servings per week. The list includes kale, spinach, cooked greens, and salads.


Nuts are a major food component for brain stimulation. Dedicate 5 servings of your weekly food to this group. Variety is best.


Beans of any kind need to make 4 servings of your diet per week. Include pintos, red beans, black beans, lentils, etc. in this list.


Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries must be on your table at a minimum of 2 servings per week.


2 servings per week of poultry, lean chicken or turkey, is the formula you need when it comes to meat.

Fatty Fish

Don’t forget to eat fish, even if only 1 serving per week. Best sources are wild salmon, sardines, trout, and mackerel.

Olive Oil

Use extra virgin olive oil as your main cooking oil and as flavoring.

Brain Drainers

The link that most caught my eye, though, was about the foods that impede memory. I still balked at watching that endless promotional video, so I returned to Google, this time entering the words “memory,” “block,” and “foods,”whichbrought me to an article on Alzheimer’

There I found the information I wanted: foods to avoid.

White Foods

White bread, white flour, white rice, white pasta, white sugar. These are on our table every day but need to go.

Processed Foods and Meats

If you wonder what falls in the category of processed foods, the list includes American cheese, processed cheese, mozzarella sticks, sausages, processed meats, cold cuts, etc.

Foods Containing Diacetyl or Nitrate

Usually, any chemical formula in food should raise your suspicion. Seems like most dangerous to the brain are ingredients containing ‘diacetyl’ or ‘nitrate’. Those include margarine, microwave popcorn, beer, and many others.

How I Plan to Proceed

I’m pretty sad about the sausage and beer, but otherwise I can manage to stick to the healthy list. You can’t have all, can you? I guess I’ll stick with a glass of wine each evening. Red.

The test, of course, will be whether I’m able to remember names – well, at least a few more than I’ve been able to pull up lately. The true test will be if I can also pass the “Three Items” challenge the doctor gives me at my annual physical. I have until April. Woo-woo!

Which brain drainers are you willing to give up to keep your brain healthy? Do any of the memory builders sound particularly tasty? How do you take care of your brain health? Please share in the comments below.

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The Author

A retired English teacher, Ann Marie Mershon lives on a lake in northern Minnesota with her husband, Jerry, and their two dogs. She’s published three books as well as numerous articles and columns. You can read about her years of teaching in Istanbul on her blog

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