Do you need to improve your memory?
Although brain cells decrease as we get older research shows that learning a new language as an adult uses regions we don’t normally use and causes the brain to work harder. A study done at the University of Michigan showed that older people use both halves of the brain simultaneously to memorize whilst younger people only use one side. This means we need to use more of our brain to do the same things as we age. Learning a language could lead to the brain being more creative.
Another theory holds that the brain becomes stronger and maybe even larger when worked hard. After all, it is a muscle and the more you exercise the larger a ‘muscle’ will become. The type of activity that keeps our brain active can be anything from reading, board games, crosswords, puzzles as well as the element of human interaction. A study done in Madrid showed that as people get older those that are isolated and live alone did not perform as well on mental skills tests. The test was done over a period of four years.
Being isolated can also increase the likelihood of depression which on a long term basis can temporarily harm the region of the brain that plays a role in learning and memory. This link between depression and memory makes it very important to avoid stress. Socialising and exercise are important in terms of depression and to cut down on stress levels.
Exercise makes the heart pump blood faster to the body and brain resulting in quick benefits in terms of lowering stress and improving memory. It improves focus and decision making and scientists at the University of Illinois believe that exercise may even produce more connections between certain brain cells to improve their communication and response.
It is important to vary the type of exercise you do though. They found that people who only do one type of exercise such as walking all the time are not able to multitask as easily or complete tasks involving complex thinking processes as those that do different types of exercise. A study done a few years ago of volunteers over 65 found that exercising at least three times a week reduced the risk of dementia by one third. It’s a good idea to mix some aerobic exercise, Yoga or Pilates with your walking if you like to walk.
Good foods for the brain are antioxidants such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, tomatoes, melons, potatoes, oranges and all blue and red fruit such as strawberries, grapes and blueberries. Also remember to include fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and foods with B vitamins.
Brahmi is a good herb to help with memory and comes in a tea. There are a number of vitamin supplements out there that will assist in getting you healthy and improving your memory. Check at your health food store.
Meditation is also a good practice because it teaches you how to focus which improves concentration in all areas of your life. It also lowers your stress levels, reduces blood pressure and slows your heartbeat all of which help you heal.
If you are having memory loss of recent events, sudden changes in mood or personality, getting lost and misplacing things often, problems with judgment, abstract thinking, language or are disorientated often then these could be signs of dementia. It is advisable to get a check up with a registered natural practitioner and your doctor.