We all have moments of forgetfulness, especially when we are busy or stressed and this is very normal, but when it becomes a regular occurrence, it can be frustrating and scary.
There is currently no cure for memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia, but studies show that healthy lifestyle choices and being physically active can help to slow the effects of cognitive decline.
It’s important to start protecting our brains from an early age.
Once we start showing signs of cognitive decline it’s almost too late to do anything about it.
Certain individuals are more genetically prone to neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, but a healthy diet and lifestyle can override a genetic predisposition.
One of the most effective ways to combat memory related concerns is regular aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise increases the oxygen flow in the body resulting in better brain function. Blood flow around the body and especially to the brain is vital for healthy brain function. Exercise should be regular with enough exertion to get your heart pumping. Swimming and brisk walking or jumping on a trampoline are great aerobic activities.
Diet is also vitally important. We can’t say this often enough – a good, varied, and healthy diet goes a long way to support all our body systems, especially our brains. Healthy foods such as nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, colorful fruits, lots of green veggies and fish should be staples in our diets.
Memory Robbers include:
Nicotine – nicotine damages the blood vessels which can reduce oxygen delivery to the brain
Alcohol – alcohol has neurotoxic effects on the brain. Overuse of alcohol can cause damage to the hippocampus, which is the memory storage area of the brain, thereby causing memory loss
Sugar – high sugar consumption disrupts the blood sugar balance and causes brain fog and memory loss. Alzheimer’s Disease is now being referred to as Diabetes Type 3 (diabetes of the brain)
Refined Carbohydrates – refined carbohydrates break down very quickly into sugars so have the same effect on the brain as sugar. Opt for whole grain options instead of refined carbohydrates for a slower release of sugars.
Obesity – many chronic conditions are associated with obesity and risk for cognitive decline is higher in obese individuals.
Lack of sleep – our brains consolidate and organize memories while we sleep. It also detoxifies and removes the build up of waste matter. If this process doesn’t happen effectively, memory will be negatively affected.
Exercise – exercise has shown to be the most effective thing that people can do to improve cognition and keep the brain healthy.
Essential Fatty Acids – since the brain is made up of fatty tissue, these are vital for the brain. Other healthy fats such as coconut oil have also been shown to be effective in helping with memory loss.
Meditation and Mindfulness – life is fast-paced, and stress levels can be too high for many of us. Slowing down to process thoughts and to do things mindfully goes a long way in supporting a healthy memory.
Learn a new skill, play games that challenge your mind and keep your brain active. Reading or playing a musical instrument are also good ways to keep the mind active and reduce the risk of memory loss. Doing activities that cross your mid-line or use the opposite of your dominant side can be great ways to stimulate the brain and keep it active.
Regular social interaction is also important for cognitive function.
Check Vitamin D levels. A shortage of vitamin D not only affects mood, but it can cause cognitive decline and memory problems if levels are too low.
Increase intake of anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants such as fatty fish, fruit, vegetables and spices such as curcumin and ginger.
Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 28 January 2021 to learn more.
Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am