Many believe that diminishing concentration and memory issues are simply natural side effects of aging. However, this isn’t the case! Here are some great tips to help if you are concerned about the deterioration of your mind and memory.
Find the Cause
There may be various underlying causes of age-related metal deterioration, with the most common including poor nutrition, stress, digestion issues and possibly inflammation and circulatory problems. Any one of these can potentially cause memory problems by interfering with the information flow in the brain and nervous system.
Look at your Nutrition
The brain is said to use around 20 percent of the body’s calories, so it needs plenty of good fuel and nutrients to remain healthy and function at its best. The good news is that a good diet for brain health includes lots of deliciousness including: -
- Oily Fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, herring & mackerel) - A study in 2017 found that people with high levels of omega-3s had increased blood flow in the brain and also identified a connection between omega-3 levels and better cognition.
- Nuts & Seeds (sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts & almonds) – Not only do they contain a good amount of Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants; nuts and seeds are often high in Vitamin E which is said to protect cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. In addition, a study in 2014 found that vitamin E may also contribute to improved cognition.
- Dark Chocolate (70%+) – Known to contain cocoa (cacao) which contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants are important for brain health as the brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which contributes to cognitive decline and brain diseases as we age. These flavonoids are also said to have other brain benefits such as stimulating blood flow to the brain and encouraging blood vessel growth in the parts of the brain involved in memory.
Other beneficial food stuffs include wholegrains as a source of vitamin E, berries for their antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties and even coffee (in moderation) as a brain booster!
Let’s think of the brain as a muscle where the less you use it, the less efficient it becomes. Like other parts of your body, your brain also needs ‘exercise’ to function to the best of its ability. Various studies show that everyday intellectual stimulation can not only prevent mental deterioration but actually improve cognitive function. Nowadays there are numerous brain training games online or if you prefer something more traditional, do the newspaper crossword! Remember its never too late to start a new course or pick up a new hobby, anything that keeps the brain stimulated.
The amount of oxygen that the brain requires for its functioning is almost 25% of the total amount consumed by the human body, so supplying your brain with adequate amounts of unpolluted oxygen key. Here’s what you can do: -
- Sleep well - a good nights sleep is essential to keep your brain happy and healthy.
- If you smoke – try to quit!
- Exercise! Regular exercise is good for you in many ways, including improving memory. Try at least 30-minutes of any level exercise 3-5 times per week.
- Breathe! If you are a shallow breather, spend 5 minutes twice daily breathing in and out of your stomach area and allow your stomach to balloon out when you breathe in. Yoga is also helpful for learning breathing techniques.
Supplements can be a very effective at improving memory and cognitive function. Some have been mentioned throughout the article but here are a few more that can help your body and brain have the necessary nutrients to work optimally.
Gingko Biloba is thought to improve blood flow to the brain by dilating blood vessels and thinning the blood. Medical research shows that ginkgo may not only prevent age-related memory loss, but also improve short-term memory and some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
B-Vitamins are a collection of water-soluble vitamins that all play important roles in cell metabolism, brain function and maintain energy levels. B9, otherwise known as Folic acid, helps to maintain proper brain and nerve function
Ginseng has been shown in some studies to improve memory and mental well-being.
Omega-3's such as those found in cod liver oil can have a considerable and positive effect on memory, mood, learning and behaviour. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are important constituents of cell membranes and help information flow around the brain. If you struggle to get them naturally in your diet, a supplement version may be best for you.