Barley and potatoes may boost memory in elderly

January 23, 2001 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition for Older Adults

Barley and potatoes may boost memory in elderly

Elderly people who fear their memory is beginning to fail might do well to have a bowl of barley or a plate of potatoes at their next meal. A recent study found that after an overnight fast, individuals performed better on memory tests after they consumed 50 grams of carbohydrate, nearly a cup of barley or just over one cup of mashed potatoes, than they did after consuming a sugar-laden drink.

The study from the University of Toronto in Canada showed that eating carbohydrate foods could improve memory within an hour after ingestion in healthy elderly people with relatively poor memories. The effects appeared to be the most pronounced on long-term memory and in those who had slight problems with glucose (blood sugar) regulation at the outset. The findings suggest that maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising, eating a diet high in fibre and low in saturated fat, which lowers the risk of developing impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes, may also have beneficial effects on memory.

While it is not clear how glucose affects memory, the researchers believe it may increase the production of a brain chemical that enhances communication between cells or that it affects proteins in the intestine that send signals to the brain.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.