Swat up in the kitchen b4 hitting the books

Increase your memory with this brain fuel


In 1597 the herbalist John Gerard wrote that sage was “singularly good for the head and quickeneth the nerves and memory.” And he wasn’t wrong. New research by Newcastle University has proved the herb can indeed improve memory. Participants who took the sage performed significantly better in a word recall test than those who did not. Add to risottos and pasta dishes.


All fats in the body are highly susceptible to damage from free radicals and the brain is more vulnerable than most. Recent research suggests an increased intake of vitamin E helps preserve brain function and protect against neuronal (nerve-cell) degeneration. In essence, a healthy intake of vitamin E can prevent or slow the rate of cognitive decline as the brain ages. Chard is an excellent source of Vitamin E.


A Salk Institute study has demonstrated that epicatechin, a flavonol found in grapes increases blood flow in the brain and enhances memory. Hopefully further research is being done to see if this is the case with other by products of the vine.


A US Department of Agriculture study demonstrated that a selenium rich diet had profound mood boosting effect. The men in the study reported feeling more clear headed, elated, confident and energetic. The extra selenium seemed to lift the men’s moods even though they had no signs of selenium deficiency. So boost your selenium intake by regularly eating cod, which is an excellent source of this nutrient.


It’s no yolk: the nutrient choline found in eggs maintains the flexibility and integrity of brain cell membranes, without which many fat-based nutrients and waste products cannot pass in and out of the cells. It’s is also a key component of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that carries messages to and from nerves and muscles. That’s one shell of a brain booster.


Tamari is soy sauce but not the usual Chinese type. Like many good things, it’s made in Japan and is a great source of vitamin B3 (niacin), which according to a study published in Psychopharmacology, plays a key role the healthy functioning of the enzymes that neutralize brain toxins. In the study a moderate daily dose of B3 improved short-term memory by up to 40%.  Tamari is now available in most supermarkets and health food stores.

Natural yoghurt

Yoghurt contains the amino acid tyrosine, needed for the production of the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline. Studies by the US military indicate that tyrosine becomes depleted when we are under stress and that supplementing your intake can improve alertness and memory. So, eat natural yoghurt every day.


Love it or hate it but Marmite is packed full of the essential brain boosting B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B12 and Folic Acid) that are vital for brain function in their different ways. So if you are a Marmite lover then spread it on your toast in the morning and if you’re not add it to soups and stews to mask the flavour.

Kiwi fruit

One of these furry fruits contains more than your RDA of vitamin C, a substance that can be found in high concentrations in the fluid around neurons in the brain protecting it against free radical damage. Such damage can cause diminished brain function, poor memory and reduced problem solving capability, so it makes sense to stick a couple in your lunch box. Lop off the top and eat them like a boiled egg.


Spinach is rich in CoQ10, without which your brain will degenerate faster and you’ll find it difficult to perform at optimum level. It’s also high in folate, which can help protect you against strokes, too.