“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 four natural ways to protect your memory and boost your brainpower, 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. As we age, our levels of these chemical neurotransmitters gradually lower, 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 when high quantities are present. 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.
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, Brussel sprouts, yams, and squash.
• Get a mega boost with Omega-3s. 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, un-hydrogenated 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.
• 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 such as ginko leaf and jujube seed to keep your mind clear and focused.
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 abilities, 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.
4. 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!
*Super Clarity, L-Carnitine and green tea are all available at the Wellness Living Store. Come and explore these and other wellness products and take a tai chi or qigong class.
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao, is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared on “Dr. Oz,” the “Doctors” and “Extra.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness over 25 years ago. In addition, he is the cofounder and Chancellor of Yo San University in Venice/Marina del Rey. To subscribe to a free newsletter please visit taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at email@example.com.