With aging it’s possible you may face memory loss. This is different from memory loss due to disease. Memory loss or forgetfulness may vary from mild to moderate and it is a normal part of aging. As we grow older changes occur all over the body including the brain. So forgetting a birthday or the payment of a bill are not serious problems but part of the natural process of growing older. You can protect your memory though by maintaining good health every day of the week.
Memory is the ability of your mind to store and recall various information. It is influenced by many factors including genetics, age, lifestyle and one’s state of health. Everyone has a different ability to retain and remember things. So follow these steps to protect your memory from the effects of aging.
Anything you do repeatedly becomes habitual and settles down in your subconscious mind and you start doing that thing spontaneously or involuntarily. So for all the necessary daily activities, do them in the same pattern. Put car keys and other keys, your wallet and your most used things in the same place. Keep all your official, bank related and medical documents in one place. You can also keep a small diary with you and write things according to your preference. Set reminders to ease your mind. These minor changes will help protect memory in the long run so you don’t feel clumsy or forgetful in the moment.
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Eat foods which are helpful to protect memory. The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative damage because of its high metabolic load. Foods rich in antioxidants like berries (blueberries, strawberries), broccoli, carrots and tomatoes are full of antioxidants and protect brain health as you age.1,2
Other nutrients which are help protect memory are omega-3 fatty acids. Food sources of omega-3’s include salmon, flax seeds, krill, chia, kiwi fruit and walnuts. Curcumin found in turmeric as well as flavonoids from cocoa, green tea, ginkgo, citrus fruits and dark chocolate are also beneficial. Consume these in moderate amounts.
Saturated fat found in butter, ghee, suet, lard, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, meat and dairy products like cheese can protect memory. Consume these following the recommendations of your physician. You may also benefit from Vitamin D, found in fish liver, fatty fish, mushrooms, fortified products, milk, soy milk and cereal grains. Vitamin B complex is found naturally in fish, red meat, eggs, milk, milk products, soy and fortified products.2
Stress reduction is as equally important as any other therapy to protect memory. Stress adversely affects the region of the brain involved in memory and learning. Chronic stress can lead to depression or anxiety disorder which interferes with normal memory processing.1 You can do meditation and breathing exercises because they are helpful in reducing stress.3
Regular physical activity in any form promotes cerebral blood flow and the formation of new neurons. People who are physically active have a lower risk ofAlzheimer’s disease later in life and improved memory compared to physically inactive people.1 Try yoga or take walks daily.
Intellectually active people have more neurons in the hippocampal area of brain which is the memory center. Also those with more mental activity have less chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease in old age.1
Mental activity includes reading new books according to your liking, playing chess, Sudoku and other kinds of games, or you may learn a new language. These activities act like an exercise for the brain which in turn promotes brain health.
Every adult needs sound sleep for approximately six to eight hours a night to maintain normal well being. Despite maintaining your normal health, sleep is also helpful in improving memory.4
Try to avoid TV, laptop and mobile devices one to two hours before sleeping because their blue light hinders the normal sleep pattern.
In the eminent Ayurvedic text book the Charak Samhita it is mentioned that regular use of ghee is helpful in improving memory and intelligence.5 You can take it regularly after discussing the appropriate amounts with your Ayurvedic practitioner or health care provider.
In the renowned Ayurvedic textbook Charak Samhita’there is a description about Medhya Rasayan. Medhya means wisdom or intellect and Rasayan means that which rejuvenates the mind and body. So a Medhya Rasayan is a remedy for the brain and mental health. It rejuvenates mental health and improves and protects memory and the intellect.
Specifically, Medhya Rasayan is a group of four herbs including Mandukaparni or Brahmi (Centella asiatica), Yashti madhu or licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) and Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia).6
In addition to the above mentioned herbs, the Ayurvedic text book Dravyaguna Vijnana, a pharmacopoeia of herbs, mentions other herbs beneficial for the brain and memory. Jyotishmati, Kushmanda, Ustukhuddus, Vacha, Ashwagandha, Aparajita and Chorak are mentioned as helpful in improving memory and protecting the brain from damage.
You can take these herbal supplements in appropriate amounts, following the advice of your health care provider, to protect memory and nourish your brain health.
If memory loss is severe or associated with a disease, or if memory loss is interfering with your daily activities, please seek the help of your health care provider immediately.
1. Small, Gary W. “What We Need to Know about Age Related Memory Loss.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 June 2002, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1123445/.
2. Gómez-Pinilla, Fernando. “Brain Foods: The Effects Of Nutrients On Brain Function.”Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/.
3. Carter, Kirtigandha Salwe, and Robert Carter III. “Breath Based Meditation: A Mechanism To Restore The Physiological And Cognitive Reserves For Optimal Human Performance.”Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 16 Apr. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4832119/.
4. Rasch, Björn, and Jan Born. “About Sleep’s Role In Memory.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768102/.
5. Charak Samhita with hindi commentary, Volume-1,Sutra Sathan, 27/231 by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi , Chauamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2017.
6. Charak Samhita with hindi commentary, Volume -2, Chikitsa Sathan, Rasayana Adhyaya, Kara-Prachitiya Rasayana Pada, 1/3/30-31 by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi , Chauamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2007.
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