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Saturday, September 8, 2007

10 Things To Eat, Take and Do to Improve Your Memory

Do you sometimes feel you forget things a little too often? Walk into a room and forget why you went there? Have a senior moment?
We already know there are foods and supplements that are good for the heart, but are you aware there are foods, supplements and activities that can protect your brain as well?

According to Dr. Jonny Bowde, there are 10 things you can eat, take and do to improve your memory while keeping your brain sharp and functioning for years to come.

1) Blueberries are the ultimate memory food. Research at the USDA showed that daily consumption of blueberries slows the impairment of memory that usually accompanies old age.

Compounds in blueberries called polyphenols actually help "turn on" the signals that let neurons (brain cells) communicate with each other more effectively.

2) Compounds in strawberries help protect your brain and preserve your memory. In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, animals that consumed an extract of strawberries, spinach and blueberries every day had improvements in their short-term memory. Not only did they learn faster than the other animals, but their motor skills improved as well.

3) Spinach is loaded with an array of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that research has shown to slow brain aging and preserve memory. It's one of the few food sources of the powerful, brain-protecting antioxidant alpha lipoic acid.

4) Tumeric is known as a "super-spice" due to its anti-cancer activity and powerful anti-inflammatory properties -- but it also helps to protect your brain.
This spice first attracted the interest of scientists investigating Alzheimer's disease because rates of the disease are so low in India, where curry is a staple. A compound in tumeric called curcumin helps to prevent mental decline in laboratory animals.

5) Fish is indeed brain food! Over 60 percent of your brain by weight is composed of fat, and most of it is the same fat found in fish. The healthy omega-3 fats in fish (and fish oil supplements) are incorporated into cell membranes, making it easier for information from neurotransmitters to get in and out of the cell.

Low levels of omega-3 fats have been linked to memory problems as well as depression, ADHD and various other neurological disorders.

Best sources: Wild salmon, sardines and cod -- or take fish oil supplements on a daily basis (500mg-3,000mg).

6) Egg yolks are one of nature's richest sources of choline, a B vitamin that is one of the most important nutrients for brain health. Choline is a building block of the valuable neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is vital for memory, learning and thinking.

This vitamin is particularly important during pregnancy because it's essential for the brain development in the fetus. The choline in egg yolks helps maintain the flexibility of brain cell membranes, which is critical for the quick transmission of thoughts and impulses.

7) Acetyl-L-Carnitine is a supplement that just may be a fountain of youth for your brain. It seems to delay the onset of age-related cognitive decline and improve overall cognitive function in the elderly. It also protects the brain from damage due to poor circulation and helps to repair injured nerve cells.

Research shows that after three months of using recommended doses of Acetyl-L-Carnitine (500mg-1,500mg daily), there's a marked improvement in general cognitive function.

8) Phosphatidyl Serine (PS), a natural nutrient found in cell membranes is highly concentrated in the brain. Several studies have shown that PS helps to restore brain function and improve learning and concentration.

Our brain health depends on PS for a number of important metabolic effects, as this makes it possible for nutrients to move freely in and out of the brain cells.

Note: To get the benefit of this supplement, take it with fish oil or with a serving of fatty fish such as salmon or sardines.

9) Several research studies on this famous herb have revealed that it has a positive effect on thinking. Not only has ginkgo extract been shown to reduce the progress of dementia or the severity of its symptoms, but it also modestly improves both memory and the speed of cognitive functioning.

The extract of the leaves from the ginkgo plant contain compounds called glycosides and terpenoids which are believed to have memory-enhancing properties. Most importantly, ginkgo improves circulation to the tissues, notably the brain, and its powerful antioxidant action protects against memory-robbing cell damage from free radicals.

10) Exercise is crucial for both mind and body health. It reduces levels of a stress hormone called cortisol, which when elevated, can shrink the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

Studies show that exercise may help prevent Alzheimer's or dementia, or at the very least, significantly delay its onset. Exercise also releases chemicals that increase the production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which has been called "Miracle Gro for the Brain".

Recent research at the University of Illinois shows that the brains of healthy but sedentary individuals ages 60 to 80 years old actually increased in size after exercising aerobically for 45 to 60 minutes, 3 days a week at a moderate clip -- both the white matter and the grey matter increased in volume!

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