Cognitive Health

How do you improve memory?

Is your memory slipping?

Have you ever forgotten where your car is? How about found yourself walking in to a room and forgotten why you where there? Would you like to remember people, events or passwords better? Wouldn't we all!!!

There are many things that we can do to improve our brain function. We just need to remember to do them. All joking aside, with today's world there are many things that bombard our body and speed up the aging process. This process affects our brain just as much if not more than the rest of our body. We need to take precautions to ensure good mental health all our life.

What causes premature brain aging?

Our brain is made up of many neuropathways. These pathways pass messages to every part of the body and direct all the functions of our body. As time passes these neurons can take a beating that can cause us to lose cognitive abilities.

One of the most basic principles to remember is the "use it or lose it" principle. This means that if we don't regularly use our brain, we lose some of it's abilities. Sometimes our daily habits become so ingrained that our brain hardly needs to engage to accomplish the task. Think about this, have you ever arrived home from work and don't really remember what happened from the parking lot to the drive way? You have probably driven that route hundreds if not thousands of times, and over time your brain requires less and less effort to accomplish that task.

Low grade systemic inflammation increases oxidative stress in the body and has been proven to cause injury to our brain and nerves over time. Low grade inflammation can be caused by many things including high carbohydrate diets, overuse of medications and antibiotics, radiation and pollution, stress, visceral fat, lack of sleep, and chronic infections.

Age - As we age our ability to absorb important nutrients that protect the brain decreases. Our body produces less of the protective hormones and proteins that help to protect and regenerate neurons in our brain. We also see a decrease in blood flow to the brain that is critical for delivering essential nutrients which results in weaker brain tissues.

B12 deficiency, hypothyroidism, alcohol abuse, depression and some medications can also cause memory issues that are reversible in most cases.

Is it possible to improve memory and brain function?

The short answer is yes. There are plenty of studies and trials that show we can improve our cognitive abilities. The important thing to remember though is that we shouldn't wait to long to start working on the health of our brain. Because neurons heal or develop very slowly it takes more time to see improvements that we would with muscle or other organs and tissues that heal quickly. So don't procrastinate working on brain health. Here are some simple things you can do to now.

Mental Exercise - Crossword puzzles, learning a language, sudoku, puzzles, memory games or games that require strategic thinking all help keep our brain active and healthy. In fact, it is well documented that even in our senior years we can continue to develop new neurons and pathways. What does this tell us? It tells us that it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks!

Physical exercise - It may not make sense that physical activity helps mental health, but the connection here is that as we exercise and increase blood flow to our body, it not only flows more to our muscles, but it also flows more to our brain bringing with it the vital nutrients and oxygen that keeps our brain healthy!

Caffeine - many studies show a positive effect on caffeine consumption and brain health. Caffeine is a vasodialator, meaning it causes our blood vessels to open up allowing more blood flow. Just like exercise is helps to bring more blood flow, nutrients and oxygen to the brain. Just don't make the mistake of thinking that a cup of coffee in the morning should replace your morning walk!

Anti-oxidants - These important nutrients help fight oxidative stress. With all the pollutions, toxins, inflammation and stress that exists in our world today we need something that can fight the aging process. Anti-oxidants do that for us. You can do that by increasing your consumption of berries, spinach, and citrus fruits. You can also supplement with Vitamin D and C.

Water - Our brain is comprised mostly of water. When we are slightly dehydrated it effects our ability to think clearly. Make sure that you are drinking enough water each day to keep your brain and body functioning well. The rule of thumb is half your body weight in oz. of water. If that is difficult make sure that you are drinking a minimum of 64 oz and slowly increase as you are able to.

Healthy fats - Remember there are healthy and unhealthy fats. Healthy fats include monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. These fats have been proven to keep the neurons in our brain healthy. They do that by reducing inflammation and helping to keep the protective covering on the neurons. Studies also tell us that coconut oil even though it is high in saturated fat can be very beneficial for brain health. The reason why this saturated fat is healthy as opposed to saturated fats from animal sources is that half of the fat from coconut oil is monolauren. This healthy fat can actually brings great energy to our brain keeping it alert and strong.

Memory enhancement is possible

One of the scariest things about aging for most people is losing or ability to remember things. We all have seen people suffering with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Even though some of those processes are genetic or out of our control, there are plenty of things we can to to decrease our risk of developing age related brain issues. We can at any age improve our memory, decision making skills and cognition.