Inevitably, as we get older, our brains slow down and memory loss occurs. It is a natural part of the aging process and, in most cases, no cause for alarm. According to the National Institute on Aging, “Your mind works a lot like a computer. Your brain puts information it judges to be important into ‘files.’ When you remember something, you pull up a file…As people grow older, it may take longer to retrieve those files.” While we all experience what cutting-edge scientists and individuals under the age of 40 refer to as “senior moments,” it is possible to gain some control over this process by following these few easy steps.
Staying mentally active is possibly the most significant way to keep your synapses firing on all cylinders. Your brain, like your muscles, must be exercised in order to stay in shape. To keep your brain as active and fit as possible, you have to continue to do new and adventurous things. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to go and jump out of a plane or take up windsurfing. Try simple things like testing a new recipe or rearranging your furniture, anything that will challenge the day-to-day monotony in which many of us operate. Other suggestions, courtesy of the MayoClinic.com, include:
Doing crossword puzzles
· Reading parts of the newspaper that you normally skip
· Taking different routes when driving
· Learning how to play a musical instrument
· Volunteering at a local school or community organization
According to Dr. James Joseph, director of the Neuroscience Lab at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, “Old neurons are like old married couples — they don’t talk to each other very much anymore. They just sit in the room with the remote and stare at the TV.” His suggestion? Eat! Dr. Joseph notes that to curb this lackadaisical brain activity, eating “purple fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, cranberries and Concord grapes may be especially beneficial.” In addition, incorporating certain foods that are high in antioxidants, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet is also an excellent way to boost memory. Fill your plate with any of the delicious and healthy snacks below for optimum brain health.
· Legumes, Nuts and Seeds
· Fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, sardines and bluefish)
Don’t forget to enjoy your brain-boosting meal with a glass of the good stuff. According to a Johns Hopkins University study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who drink one alcoholic beverage a day (preferably red wine) were 54 percent less likely to have dementia than people who never drank alcohol at all. However, keep it to one six-ounce glass of wine, one 12-ounce glass of beer or one shot of hard liquor, as individuals who consumed two or more drinks per day were found to actually have an increased likelihood of experiencing dementia.
Finally, staying active, both physically and socially, is a great way to keep your mind, as well as your body, young. Physical activity will increase blood flow to your brain, which may in turn keep your memory sharp. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of activity a day. If time is an issue, make the effort to work in 10-minute spurts of brisk walking throughout the day. Like exercise, social interaction has also been proven to ward off depression and stress, which have been shown to contribute to memory loss. Combine these two activities by joining a swim aerobics or ballroom dancing class. Double the fun, double the payoff.
Incorporating some or all of these easy steps into your day-to-day life is sure to provide you with the memory boost you need. But if not, and those senior moments keep on creeping in, like they say, you can’t forget what you don’t remember.