We all know people older than us whose memories fail them on a regular basis.
There may be numerous causes of memory loss, including depression, emotional stress or disease, In this article we will be discussing the most prevelant reason for loss of memory, that being aging.
Commencing in our early twenties, we can expect to lose about 1% of the nerve cells in our brain every year. So a typical 75 year old may function with as little as about 50% of the memory function of his youth.
Luckily there are many steps we can take to reduce the rate at which we lose our memory as the years pass. We will focus on just a few of the most crucial ones. For our purposes, we are assuming that no neuropsychological issues exist and that we are dealing with a relatively healthy person, whose memory loss is due exclusively to the passage of time.
Our memory may be profoundly affected by both our diet and our general lifestyle, and consequently certain changes to either of these can prove quite effective. Amongst these are drinking less alcohol, giving up smoking, and eating foods rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and especially antioxidants (including vegetables and fruits), as these can contribute to the health of the brain.
Some other recommended dietary improvements are consuming fewer red meats and substituting instead fish heavy in Omega-3 fatty acids, and staying away from foods containing chemicals such as preservatives like MSG. In addition, reducing the level of stress in your daily life can slow the rate of memory loss. Regular exercise or a daily yoga program can greatly reduce stress.
A commonly forgotten area is nutritional and herbal supplements. A lot of us take a daily supplement intended to help in maintaining the health of our liver, heart, etc. but totally ignore the excellent supplements that can improve the functioning of our most important organ, the brain. Let us briefly touch on a few of them. Vinpocetine and Ginkgo biloba are blood vessel dilators that permit more oxygen to reach the brain. Two vitamins that are useful are Vitamin B and thiamine, being antioxidants which can aid in protecting brain cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Other supplements that are helpful in reducing memory loss as we age are phosphatidylserine and acetylcarnitine, both of which have been employed with Alzheimers patients with good results. In addition, the herbal supplements bacopa from India and the Korean ginseng have been the subject of studies showing their usage can improve the brains functioning, and in particular ones memory.
A number of mental activities can help us retain our memory as the years pass. An active brain can more readily withstand the ravages of age. Engaging in a new mental activity, such as learning to play a new instrument, studying a foreign language and taking flying lessons, are good examples. Trying to remember particular things, like peoples names or birthdates, may seem trivial but when engaged in regularly often helps to keep the brain active and sharp. In addition there are various memory techniques available that can assist with specific things one wants to be able to remember later, including repetition, mnemonics (these are mental games designed to aid in memorization, for example the invented name Roy G. Biv where each of the letters in the name stands for one of the primary colors) and just taking the time to write the words you wish to be able to recall on a piece of paper and repeating them orally a few times.
The bottom line is that if one chooses to lead an active mental and physical life, is reasonably careful about the foods one eats, adds the necessary herbal and nutritional supplements to the daily regiment, and foregoes some vices, the rate at which our brains lose their ability to remember things can be substantially reduced.