Alittle brain drain and occasional senior moments are natural as you age, but new research indicates Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise. The number of patients may almost triple by 2050. Memory erodes naturally as you mature; your brain’s memory-building hippocampus loses 5 percent of its nerve cells every decade. Aging slows production of acetylcholine, a vital learning and memory neurotransmitter. Formerly, scientists believed mental ability peaked in early adulthood and then declined.
Fortunately, modern research discovered that adult brains’ neuroplasticity process continues forming new, memory-building neural networks. Recent studies show specific lifestyle choices can help boost your brainpower, preserve your memory and lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It is even beneficial to implement these recall-inspiring habits to minimize your symptoms if you’re already taking an Alzheimer’s medication like Memantine HCL.
Nourish Your Brain
Multiple studies found that a Mediterranean diet reduced participants’ Alzheimer’s disease risks. Consume fish, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, legumes, mixed nuts and vino. Limit meat because its omega-6 fatty acids may contribute to brain inflammation, a possible underlying Alzheimer’s mechanism. Research shows that people who eat a Mediterranean diet are 36 percent less likely to develop brain damage that can lead to thinking and memory difficulties.
According to Dr. Gary Small, UCLA Memory Clinic director, memory superfoods include colorful and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, which protect your brain from harmful free radicals. Low-glycemic carbs like oatmeal and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids also are beneficial. In a recent study, MRI brain scans of people with low omega-3 levels appeared to be two years older.
Choose Smart Snacks
Blueberries may help keep your brain firing. Astudy reports that anthocyanins, the antioxidants that create the blue color, promote new connections between brain cells, which may help delay memory loss.
All nuts contain magnesium, a mineral linked to short- and long-term memory improvement. Enjoy about 25 percent of your daily requirement in a handful of potent almonds or cashews.
Master New Skills
Some studies suggest puzzles like sudoku and crosswords may improve memory and delay brain decline. Other research claims crossword puzzles help only if you have to look up the answers. That’s because learning new things strengthens brain synapses and creates new ones, even in memory areas. A study showed that playing the Double Decision computer game for six years improved participants’ concentration enough to lower car accident rates by 50 percent.
According to a recent study, memory skills improved in adults who learned a new language. The researchers reported that any new activity you practice diligently, such as improving your vocabulary, knitting or piano playing, is likely to have this beneficial effect.
Exercise for Brain Growth
University of California at Irvine researchers discovered that a little workout produced big mental gains. One subject group rode stationary bikes for six minutes while another remained inactive. Afterward, the exercise group’s memory test results were significantly better. The research team believes the exercise-induced norepinephrine brain chemical, which influences memory, may be responsible.
According to Small, exercise is the ultimate memory aid because it can increase your brain size, which provides a greater capacity to remember. He recommends 20 minutes of brisk walking every day to reduce stress levels while improving concentration.
In a study testing over 6000 seniors for over five years, frequent socializers had slower intellectual and memory declines. The most socially active subjects maintained mental capacity best. Avoid loneliness and social isolation, preventable Alzheimer risk factors, by interacting with family and friends in person. Volunteering, classes and hobby groups can help you feel useful and connected.
Relax Your Mind to Retain More
A University of Rochester study found that participants’ busy lives made them too anxious for their brains to take in and remember new info. Memory Training Systems in New York City recommends regular deep breathing exercises, yoga and nature walks to relax your mind so it can absorb and retain more.
Maximize Your Sleep
Typically, scientists believe that the brain shifts memories from temporary to longer-term storage during a deep sleep of eight hours or more. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one third of us doze fewer than seven hours a night.
A study in the journal Learning and Memory suggests that your presentation will go better tomorrow if you get at least six hours of sleep tonight instead of obsessing over it until dawn. Researchers think sleep may help your brain consolidate and organize information for accurate recall.
According to Rudy Tanzi, director of Mass General’s genetics and aging research unit, deep sleep helps maintain your brain the way flossing preserves teeth. Poor sleep produces the beta amyloid protein, which Tanzi terms brain gunk. Deep sleep cleans out unhealthy accumulations that can trigger neurodegeneration.
University of Pennsylvania researchers discovered that getting half of your typical sleep time, three to four hours, on just one night can erode your memory. Nature Neuroscience reported that improving sleep length and quality slow mental decline in aging adults.
Tweak Your Lifestyle
A few everyday changes can improve your powers of recall and help you avoid losing your short-term memory. Take action today to lower your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. If you’re already on a memory-enhancing medication regime, incorporate some of these behaviors into your daily routine. Enlist helpful reminders from family and friends if necessary to increase your quality of life.