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By Michael Rupkalvis
We all know people older than us who suffer from memory loss.
The reasons for loss of memory are many, but may include disease, depression, emotional trauma and genetic causes, In this article we will be discussing the most common cause of memory loss, that being aging.
Beginning in our early twenties, we lose approximately 1% of our brain’s nerve cells annually. So a typical 75 year old may have only about 50% of the memory function of his youth.
Fortunately there are many steps we can take to reduce the rate at which we lose our memory as the years pass. In this article we will discuss just a few of the most crucial ones. For our discussion, we shall assume that no neuropsychological issues exist and that we are dealing with a relatively healthy person, whose memory problems are due exclusively to the aging process.
There exist several modifications we can choose to make to our diet and our lifestyle that can positively influence our memory. These can involve drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, and eating foods rich in fiber, vitamins and especially antioxidants (such as fresh fruits and vegetables), as these can contribute to the functioning of the brain.
Other useful dietary adjustments are switching from red meats to fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and eliminating from your diet foods prepared with chemicals such as preservatives like MSG. Also modifying your life so as to reduce your general stress levels can slow the rate of memory loss. Of course, participating in an exercise program or a daily regime of yoga can significantly lower stress.
One often neglected area is herbal and nutritional supplements. Many of us take a daily supplement intended to help in maintaining the health of our heart, liver, blood, etc. – but totally ignore the excellent supplements that can improve our brain’s functioning. Let us briefly touch on a few of them. The well-known Ginkgo biloba and Vinpocetine (from the periwinkle plant) are blood vessel dilators that permit more oxygen to reach the brain. Two vitamins that are useful are Vitamin B and thiamine, being antioxidants which can aid in protecting brain cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Two other possible supplements to consider in order to reduce the rate of memory loss caused by our aging are phosphatidylserine and acetylcarnitine, both of which have been employed with Alzheimer’s patients with good results. In addition, the herbal supplements bacopa from India and the Korean ginseng apparently can have significant positive effects on the functioning of the brain, especially short term memory.
There are several mental activities that may aid in maintaining our memory as the years pass. Clearly an active brain is more likely to fight off the ravages of age. Taking on new mental challenges, including learning a new language, playing chess or card games like bridge, or taking up a new musical instrument, are good examples. Making a conscious effort to remember particular things, like a person’s name or a phone number, may seem facile but when done regularly often helps maintain the level at which the brain functions. Also there are a number of memory tricks that can aid with specific items you may wish to be able to remember later, such as repetition, mnemonics (tricks to help one remember, for example the classic name Roy G. Biv where each of the letters in the name stands for one of the primary colors) and simply writing the words you wish to remember on a piece of paper and repeating them orally a number of times.
The bottom line is that if one leads an active mental and physical life, is reasonably careful about the foods one eats, complements those with appropriate nutritional and herbal supplements, and foresakes habits like cigarettes and alcohol, the rate at which our brains lose their ability to remember things and events can be substantially reduced.
About the Author: Michael Rupkalvis manages the
website. The web site is devoted to discussions of improving memory, reducing stress and how to increase concentration by employing a product known as ThinkStraight.