A recent study from Tohoku University in Japan explores the potential cognitive benefits of wasabi, a popular Japanese condiment. The researchers found that a supplement containing the main bioactive compound in wasabi improved working and episodic memory in older adults. This finding adds to the growing body of research suggesting that certain foods can enhance brain function and protect cognitive health. However, some experts remain skeptical and call for more research to validate these findings.
Dr. Clifford Segil, a neurologist, suggests conducting larger studies with standardized cognitive tests and amounts of wasabi consumed. While the study’s results are interesting, Dr. Segil emphasizes the need for a more robust scientific investigation to establish a clear link between wasabi consumption and cognitive benefits.
Monique Richard, a registered dietitian nutritionist, acknowledges the study’s findings and suggests exploring if similar outcomes can be achieved with food forms of wasabi or other related plants. She highlights the importance of including specific nutrients known to support cognitive function in the diet, such as magnesium, folate, B6, zinc, vitamin D, and omega-3. Richard also emphasizes the role of a healthy gut microbiome in maintaining cognitive health, which can be nurtured through the consumption of prebiotics, fiber-rich foods, herbs, spices, probiotics, and fermented foods.
To prevent cognitive decline, Dr. Segil recommends maintaining structure in daily life, taking formal classes or engaging in mentally stimulating activities, being socially active, and avoiding isolation. These lifestyle factors can help keep the brain active and functioning optimally. Richard adds that reducing refined sugar intake is also important for cognitive health, as glycosylation – a process that occurs when sugar molecules attach to proteins – can impair cognitive function.
While the study on wasabi and cognitive benefits provides interesting insights, more research is needed to confirm these findings and establish the optimal amount and form of wasabi consumption for cognitive health. In the meantime, incorporating a balanced diet rich in nutrients that support cognitive function, maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, and engaging in mentally stimulating activities can help promote brain health as people age.