“Where are my keys?” “What was that person’s name again?” Memory glitches like these, though ordinary enough, can sometimes be an upsetting reminder that our memory may not serve us forever. If your brain function is not quite as sharp as it once was, here are 5 natural ways to protect your memory and boost your brain power, no matter what age you are!Where does your memory go?
Most people over the age of 40 experience some memory loss. Our memory is facilitated by chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters; these messengers transfer information from one neuron to the next. Find out more aboutneurotransmitters in The Natural Health Dictionary. As we age, our levels of these chemical neurotransmitters are lowered, and a mild slowing down of the memory and thought processes can occur. Sometimes a glitch in memory is just reflecting physiological swings in the brain, which can be brought on by hormonal changes, reactions to environmental toxins, too much stress, or too little sleep. Emotional stress diminishes blood flow to the brain and stimulates production of the hormone cortisol, which is toxic to nerve cells in high quantities. Also, when plaque narrows the blood vessels, blood flow to the brain is reduced. All of these factors come into play and affect your brain function.
Alzheimer’s disease is much more serious than run-of-the-mill forgetfulness. Microscopic examination shows that nerve cells in the thinking parts of the brain have died and disappeared. There are many signs to look for, but if you are forgetting how to do things that you’ve done many times before, are unable to learn new things, or your memory is getting progressively worse, see your physician right away.
1. Eat Brain Foods
A balanced diet rich in essential amino acids, omega oils, minerals, and vitamins will ensure a vibrant and sharp memory. Eat right to keep your memory bright:
• Choose complex carbs, such as brown rice, oatmeal, lentils, whole beans, and other whole grain foods, which will bring your brain lasting energy and help fuel your cognitive abilities.
• Eat a rainbow of veggies. Chock full of protective antioxidants, vegetables of every hue can help you boost brain power, especially bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, yams, and squash.
• Get a mega boost with omega’s. There is more and more evidence indicating that omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial for brain health. A particularly rich source is fish, especially salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, mackerel, and sardines. Almond oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, and sesame oil are rich in monounsaturated fats and are good choices for brain health. Population studies show that a diet high in unsaturated, unhydrogenated fats tends to correspond to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, whereas a diet higher in saturated fats and trans fats exhibits an increased risk.
• Micro-algae brings big brain benefits. Blue-green algae, spirulina, and chlorella are easy to digest, high-protein, and high-energy food supplements that support healthy brain functions. Look for powders you dissolve in juice or flakes you can sprinkle on your food.
• Mix it up with nuts, seeds, and fruit. The essential fatty acids, rich carotenoids, and antioxidants in a trail mix of nuts and fruit will nourish and support your brain: choose walnuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried goji berries, dried apricots, and dried blueberries.
• Bonus Tip: Super Clarity is a specially blended formula that contains brain-nourishing herbs.
2. Stay Social
Having a vibrant social life is a surefire strategy for improving your life–and it may improve your memory, too. A study conducted with elderly individuals in Taiwan suggested that participation in social activities outside of the family unit positively benefited their cognitive impairment. The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, adjusted for previous cognitive impairments, health history, and social background. The results showed that the individuals who participated in one or two social activities failed 13% fewer cognitive tests; those who took part in three or more outside activities failed 33% fewer cognitive tasks than those with no social activities.
3. Combat Mental Decline with L-carnitine
One simple amino acid can help you hang onto your memory: L-carnitine may help slow down the onset of mental deterioration, according to research. Found chiefly in the heart and skeletal muscles, L-carnitine’s main job is to carry fatty acids through cell membranes to the mitochondrion– the cell’s “engine”–and use them as cellular energy. Brain tissue also holds a rich supply of L-carnitine. Even if you are taking in high levels of the beneficial omega fatty acids from above, if your L-carnitine level is low, your brain and muscles can’t use them. How to get L-carnitine into your system? The main dietary source of this amino acid is meat. Vegetarians may find it worthwhile to take supplements to help fight the onset of age-related memory loss. Learn more about L-carnitine in The Natural Health Dictionary.
4. Supplement Your Memory
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a compound made by the body from the amino acid serine. Taken in supplement form, it lowers stress response and promotes the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that facilitate thought, reasoning, and concentration. PS has been well-documented in Europe for reversing age-related memory loss. One study worked with individuals that had memory loss (although not dementia), and PS provided significant benefits. The individuals that had the most severe memory loss exhibited the most improvement.
5. Drink Green Tea
Green tea has enjoyed plenty of attention for its brainy benefits in the past decade. Studies indicate that green tea may defend against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of mental degeneration. Green tea is packed with polyphenols–antioxidants that have been found to increase cognitive acuity and learning ability. One particular polyphenol is responsible for all of these beneficial brain effects: catechin. The concentration of catechins in green tea is four times that of black tea. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but the minimal processing used for green tea may help to preserve a higher concentration of the antioxidants. Drink up to gain long-term benefits for your brain! Find out more about polyphenols and catechins in The Natural Health Dictionary.
Many of the above defined terms were adapted from my newest Kindle book, The Natural Health Dictionary, a comprehensive guide that answers all your questions about natural remedies, healing herbs, longevity foods, vitamins, and supplements. In addition, you can find more ways to live a long and healthy life in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle.
I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.
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By Dr. Maoshing Ni
Apr 29, 2011