When was the last time you walked into a room and forgot what you went there for? Have you recently been in a conversation with a really good friend and just couldn’t come up with their name? Embarrassing? Yes. Alzheimer’s? Probably not.
Memory loss can be the result of a number of factors including aging, hormonal changes, diet, and trying to do too many things at once. The good news is that there are a number of steps you can take to improve your memory and slow it’s decline as you age.
-If you’re not physically active, get moving. 2006 data from a study that began in the 1930’s shows that moderate exercise (as little as two times a week!) can lower your chances of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by 60%.
-Quit smoking now. This may sound like a “no brainer” (no pun intended), but when you quit smoking, your risk for Lung cancer over time drops to that of a non-smoker. Unfortunately, this is not the case for degenerative brain conditions due to smoking, which are not completely reversible, so the sooner you quit, the better.
-Eat Mediterranean. The evidence is clear that the Mediterranean Diet is the optimal diet to significantly slow cognitive decline. Eating Mediterranean means more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and fish and less full fat dairy and animal products.(For more on the Mediterranean Diet check out our June 2006 newsletter–it’s on line at http://www.acupunctureinthepark.com )
-Drink green tea. Results from a 2006 study reports that as little as a cup or two a day of green tea, which is packed full of antioxidants, can cut your risk of cognitive problems by 50 percent. However, while black or oolong tea or coffee are also antioxidant-rich, their consumption didn’t produce the same results.
-Make a list. Memory lapses can be the by-product of simply trying to do too many things at once. At a certain point, your brain just can’t hold any more details. Make a list of the things you want to do or remember to get rid of some of that brain “clutter”.
-Play some mind games. Crossword puzzles, soduku, trivia quizzes, or even learning a new skill or language can keep your brain exercised and can slow memory loss.
The good news here is that small changes can be enough to yield big results as long as you keep them up. A few cups of green tea, exercise a couple of days a week and moderate changes in diet can be sufficient to lower your risk of age related memory problems.
Lynn Jaffee has spent over 20 years working in health promotion. She has written numerous articles and is the co author of the book, The Bodywise Woman. Lynn is a licensed acupuncturist in St. Louis Park, MN. She can be reached through her website http://www.acupunctureinthepark.com