Having a good memory is important to everyone. Keeping the brain stimulated helps keep memories strong along with a healthy lifestyle. Vitamins are key components in helping to bolster memory power. Aging requires more vitamins to assist with keeping the brain strong and cells repairing themselves. Supplementing your diet with key vitamins will help ensure your memory will stay active for years to come. -Vitamin B3, or niacin, is water soluble and part of the group of B vitamins that are beneficial to a healthy body. There have been a few tests conducted as to the abilities of vitamin B3 on memory. Recent studies show that niacin given in doses of 425 mg per day can improve memory up to 40 percent. Vitamin B3 helps to create healthy functioning of the enzymes that stop brain toxins that affect normal healthy brain metabolism and clear thinking. Vitamin B9, or folic acid, is also water soluble and part of the B vitamin family. It supports proper adrenal functions, and helps calm and maintain a healthy nervous system. Folic acid may also play a role in helping to slow memory loss associated with aging. -Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that is beneficial for overall health and brain functions. Tufts University finds vitamin E can assist with keeping the memory alert as we age. Brain cells use lots of oxygen, and vitamin E helps keep the body oxygenated and cells healthy and happy in the brain. Vitamin E has been linked to helping keep the blood vessels clear through its ability to slow cholesterol formation. It is thought, if it is able to assist with blood vessels in the heart, it may do the same for the brain’s vessels, keeping Alzheimer’s disease at bay and memory function strong.
-Vitamin C is another strong antioxidant that helps heal the body and keep the skin, teeth and bones strong. Vitamin C is water soluble, so the body needs to replenish it often. Most fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C naturally. Participants who were taking vitamin C in recent studies scored higher on short-term verbal memory tests, especially women.
You may know that a Mediterranean diet — rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, whole grains and fish — offers heart-healthy benefits. But a Mediterranean diet may also benefit your brain. Studies show that people who closely follow a Mediterranean diet seem less likely to develop cognitive decline when compared with people who don’t follow the diet.
Research shows that a Mediterranean diet may: Slow cognitive decline in older adults Reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a transitional stage between the cognitive decline of normal aging and the more-serious memory problems caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease Reduce the risk of MCI progressing into Alzheimer’s disease
It’s unclear why following a Mediterranean diet may protect brain function. Researchers speculate that making healthy food choices may improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels and overall blood vessel health — all factors that may reduce the risk of MCI or Alzheimer’s disease. Studies of the effects of diet on dementia are dependent on the recall of the participants — problematic when some of those studied have memory troubles. More research is needed to know to what degree a Mediterranean diet prevents Alzheimer’s or slows the progression of cognitive decline. Nonetheless, eating a healthy diet is important to stay physically and mentally fit.
Which foods are best for brain health? Check this list to see what you should eat to optimize your brain power. -Nuts contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to keep your arteries clear, as well as levels of precursors of serotonin to boost mood. One ounce a day is just right; more is fine, but remember to be careful of calorie overload – an ounce is about twelve walnuts or twenty-four almonds. -Fish (especially wild salmon, whitefish, tilapia, catfish, flounder and mahi mahi) contain artery-clearing omega-3 fatty acids. Serving size recommendation is 13.5 ounces a week (or three servings about the size of your fist). -Soybeans contain heart- and artery-healthy protein and fiber. The recommended serving is one cup a day. -Tomato juice and spaghetti sauce contain folate, lycopene and other nutrients to keep arteries young. The recommended serving is 8 ounces a day of juice; 2 tablespoons of spaghetti sauce a day. -Olive oil, nut oils, fish oils, flaxseed and avocados contain heart-healthy mono-unsaturated omega-3 and omega-9 fats. Twenty-five percent of daily calories should be healthy fats.
Stress is one of the brain’s worst enemies. Over time, if left unchecked, chronic stress destroys brain cells and damages the hippo-campus, the region of the brain involved in the formation of new memories and the retrieval of old ones.
The stress-busting, brain-boosting benefits of meditation The scientific evidence for the mental health benefits of meditation continues to pile up. Studies show that meditation helps improve many different types of conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Meditation also can improve focus, concentration, creativity, and learning and reasoning skills. Meditation works its “magic” by changing the actual brain. Brain images show that regular meditators have more activity in the left prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with feelings of joy and equanimity. Meditation also increases the thickness of the cerebral cortex and encourages more connections between brain cells—all of which increases mental sharpness and memory ability.
If you’ve ever taken a break from work or studying to take a quick walk around the block, you may understand the rationale for this next tip. Exercise not only exercises the body, it exercises the brain as well. Obesity is a risk factor for many diseases and conditions that eventually wreak havoc on the brain, including stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. Without regular exercise, plaque builds up in the arteries and blood vessels lose the ability to pump blood effectively. While you may know how plaque buildup leads to heart attacks, you may not think about the way your brain is gasping for breath as well. The brain depends on energy received through a constant intake of oxygen and nutrients from the bloodstream, and when those nutrients don’t arrive, the brain’s ability to work is compromised. So to keep the blood moving to the brain, you’re going to need to get up from your chair and get the blood pumping. It doesn’t matter what you do — a brisk walk, a swim and even a dance move or two can all provide a good mental workout.
Eating well is good for your mental as well as your physical health. The brain requires nutrients just like your heart, lungs or muscles do. But which foods are particularly important to keep our grey matter happy? -Eat oily fish
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through diet. The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish as EPA and DHA. Good sources include linseed (flaxseed) oil, soya bean oil, pumpkin seeds, walnut oil and soya beans. They are good for healthy brain function, the heart, joints and general well-being. Oily fish contains EPA and DHA in a ready-made form, which enables the body to use it easily. The main sources of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. -Eat more tomatoes
There is good evidence to suggest that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.
A research team in Switzerland has discovered how potent new compounds work in the body to fight the brain condition without causing harmful side-effects.
The major development, which offers hope to millions of sufferers, was described as “tremendously encouraging”.
It makes it possible to tailor treatments so they target the toxic plaques that clump together in the brain and cause confusion and memory loss.
This has been achieved by working out how an enzyme triggers the destruction of neurons in the brain. Dirk Beher, said: “We have obtained extraordinary knowledge about how the enzyme gamma secretase can be modulated. This knowledge will be invaluable for developing even better targeted drugs to fight the disease.”
Senior author Dr Patrick Fraering said: “Scientists have been trying to target gamma secretase to treat Alzheimer’s for over a decade.
“Our work suggests that next-generation molecules, by modulating rather than inhibiting the enzyme, could have few, if any, side-effects. It is tremendously encouraging.“.
Alzheimer’s is characterised by a build-up of toxic amyloid plaques which clump together in the brain and destroy surrounding cells. A protein called APP triggers this process after it is cut by the enzyme gamma secretase and released outside the cell where it forms amyloid.
Walnuts are thought of as brain food, not only because they’re shaped like a brain, but because they’re an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fat that the body uses to make DHA, needed to improve memory. Walnuts also contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid, which helps protect the brain from free radical damage. Flax and chia seeds are also good sources. Add the ground seeds to breakfast cereals or smoothies for an extra omega-3 boost. Berries Eat more berries! According to a paper published in the recent Annals of Neurology, women who have higher intakes of berries in their diets have a slower rate of age-related memory loss. Berries have high levels of magic ingredients anthocyanidins and flavonoids, which are each associated with lower rates of cognitive decline. You don’t need to eat a truck-load of berries to get this effect, either. Apparently, positive effects were seen in women who only consumed ½ cup of blueberries or 1 cup of strawberries a week. And, the more berries eaten the better the effect too.
Mental decline as you age appears to be largely due to altered connections among brain cells. But research has found that keeping the brain active seems to increase its vitality and may build its reserves of brain cells and connections. You could even generate new brain cells. You don’t have to turn your life upside down, or make extreme changes to achieve many of these benefits. Start with something small, like a daily walk. After a while, add another small change. Keep your brain active every day:
Stay curious and involved — commit to lifelong learning Read, write, work crossword or other puzzles Attend lectures and plays Enroll in courses at your local adult education center, community college or other community group Play games Garden Try memory exercises
It may be helpful to consider some of the criteria physicians and experts in cognition use to determine if a patient is showing early signs of dementia. The following list is adapted from “Diagnosis, Management and Treatment of Dementia: A Practical Guide for Primary Care Physicians,” published by the American Medical Association.
-Normal Aging: The person complains of memory loss but can provide considerable detail regarding incidents of forgetfulness.
-Dementia: The person complains of memory problems only if specifically asked and cannot recall instances when memory loss was noticeable.
-Normal Aging: The individual is more concerned about perceived forgetfulness than close family members are.
-Dementia: Close family members are much more concerned than the individual is about incidents of memory loss.
-Normal Aging: Recent memory for important events, affairs and conversations is not impaired.
-Dementia: Recent memory for events and ability to converse are both noticeably impaired.
-Normal Aging: The person has occasional difficulty finding words.
-Dementia: The person makes frequent word-finding pauses and substitutions.