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Ways to boost brain power
“Where are my keys?” “What was that person’s name again?” Memory glitches like these, though ordinary enough, can sometimes be an upsetting reminder that our memory may not serve us forever. Where does your memory go? Most people over the age of 40 experience some memory loss. As we age, our levels of chemical neurotransmitters are lowered, and a mild slowing down of the memory and thought processes can occur. Sometimes a glitch in memory is just reflecting physiological swings in the brain, which can be brought on by hormonal changes, reactions to environmental toxins, too much stress, or too little sleep.
Emotional stress diminishes blood flow to the brain and stimulates production of the hormone cortisol, which is toxic to nerve cells in high quantities. Also, when plaque narrows the blood vessels, blood flow to the brain is reduced. All of these factors come into play and affect your brain function. But there are ways to combat these moments of run-of-the-mill forgetfulness.
Eat brain foods
A balanced diet rich in essential amino acids, omega oils, minerals, and vitamins will ensure a vibrant and sharp memory. Eat right to keep your memory bright:
• Choose complex carbs, such as brown rice, oatmeal, lentils, whole beans, and other whole grain foods, which will bring your brain lasting energy and help fuel your cognitive abilities.
• Eat a rainbow of veggies. Chock full of protective antioxidants, vegetables of every hue can help you boost brain power, especially bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, yams, and squash.
• Get a mega boost with omega’s. There is more and more evidence indicating that omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial for brain health. A particularly rich source is fish, especially salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, mackerel, and sardines. Almond oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, and sesame oil are rich in monounsaturated fats and are good choices for brain health.
• Micro-algae brings big brain benefits. Blue-green algae, spirulina, and chlorella are easy to digest, high-protein, and high-energy food supplements that support healthy brain functions. Look for powders you dissolve in juice or flakes you can sprinkle on your food.
• Mix it up with nuts, seeds, and fruit. The essential fatty acids, rich carotenoids, and antioxidants in a trail mix of nuts and fruit will nourish and support your brain: choose walnuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried goji berries, dried apricots, and dried blueberries.
Having a vibrant social life is a surefire strategy for improving your life—and it may improve your memory, too. A study conducted with elderly individuals in Taiwan suggested that participation in social activities outside of the family unit positively benefited their cognitive impairment. The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, adjusted for previous cognitive impairments, health history, and social background. The results showed that the individuals who participated in one or two social activities failed 13 per cent fewer cognitive tests; those who took part in three or more outside activities failed 33 per cent fewer cognitive tasks than those with no social activities.
Combat mental decline with L-carnitine
One simple amino acid can help you hang onto your memory: L-carnitine may help slow down the onset of mental deterioration, according to research. Found chiefly in the heart and skeletal muscles, L-carnitine’s main job is to carry fatty acids through cell membranes to the mitochondrion—the cell’s “engine”—and use them as cellular energy. Brain tissue also holds a rich supply of L-carnitine. Even if you are taking in high levels of the beneficial omega fatty acids from above, if your L-carnitine level is low, your brain and muscles can’t use them. How to get L-carnitine into your system? The main dietary source of this amino acid is meat. Vegetarians may find it worthwhile to take supplements to help fight the onset of age-related memory loss.
Supplement your memory
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a compound made by the body from the amino acid serine. Taken in supplement form, it lowers stress response and promotes the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that facilitate thought, reasoning, and concentration.
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