Monday, October 15, 2012

How to Improve Your Memory - by Rivini Research

Keep Your Brain Sharp

Straining your brain to remember someone’s name or where you left your wallet? Forgetting things can be a pesky problem, but it can get serious without the proper attention. Thankfully, a few simple tricks are all it takes to prevent those forgetful moments and get your memory in shape.

The neurologist says...Eat your vitamins B, C, D and E

New research shows that older people who have higher levels of vitamins B, C, D and E in their blood have stronger memory and thinking skills. Make sure you're getting enough vitamin B12 in particular (found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk)—low levels of this vitamin have been linked to memory problems. Whenever possible, try to get these nutrients from food instead of pills. But if you're a vegetarian, over 50 years old and/or taking certain medications for diabetes or heartburn, ask your doctor about B12 supplements, since you may be at a higher risk for a deficiency. On the flip side, avoid foods that contain trans fats (including fried foods and many packaged baked goods). Studies show that people with high levels of this dangerous fat had worse cognitive functioning.

The psychologist says...Play games

Try doing a word scramble, a crossword puzzle or Sudoku against the clock. Giving yourself a time limit challenges your brain's focus, speed and flexibility. Also choose hobbies that keep your mind engaged—painting, writing, playing board games—and do them regularly. Research shows that activities like these help keep your brain function strong throughout your lifetime.

Overcome Stress
Ever gone to the kitchen and stood there, realizing you have no idea why you're there to begin with? It’s a common memory problem that stems from stress, according to Bill Scott, CEO of BrainPaint, a neurofeedback system used by therapists to better understand brain activity. “When you're stressed, the hormone cortisol increases in your brain and washes out short-term memory.” The fix? Train your brain to work better, even in the face of stress and anxiety. Meditation or deep-breathing exercises can help calm you down, get you centered and keep your mind in tip-top shape.
Learn Another Language
A study presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in April 2011 suggested that the more languages you know, the better your memory. Researchers studied 230 men and women and found that there is a "protective effect on memory" in people who speak two or more languages, which decreases their risk of developing memory issues later in life. Furthermore, the number of languages you speak directly correlates with your reduction in risk. According to the study, "people who spoke four or more languages were five times less likely to develop cognitive problems compared to those who only spoke two languages." Even those "who spoke three languages were three times less likely to have cognitive problems compared to bilinguals." Luckily, it's never too late to learn a new language, whether you study it on your own or decide to enroll in a class at your local community college.
Drink Beet Juice
Loaded with nitrate, which gets converted into nitrite in the body and helps improve blood flow, beet juice has been found to help keep your mind sharp. Scientists at Wake Forest University tested the effects of nitrate-rich foods, such as beet juice, on memory after recent findings linked dementia and poor cognitive abilities to lack of oxygen in certain areas of the brain. Because nitrites seem to inherently know which part of the body needs more blood flow, it's been suggested that consuming foods with high levels of nitrate, like beets, celery, cabbage and spinach, can help protect you from dementia as well as keep your mind sharp as you age.
Eat a Mediterranean Diet
A Rush University study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the already tasty foods common to Mediterranean cuisine are linked to "slower rates of cognitive decline in older adults." Study participants whose daily diets contained vegetables, legumes, olive oil, fish, and moderate wine and alcohol consumption had the least amount of cognitive decline, while other participants who followed basic healthy-eating principles did not see the same benefits. Ready to make the switch to a more Mediterranean-influenced diet? An easy first step is to use olive oil for all of your cooking needs.
Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
This disorder is marked by short periods of sleep in which the sufferer stops breathing, causing him or her to awake briefly throughout the night. When left untreated, OSA can result in daytime sleepiness and forgetfulness. However, a recent study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found the decline in memory may not simply be due to a lack of zzz's. During the periods of non-breathing, OSA patients were actually deprived of oxygen, resulting in a decrease in gray matter (neural tissue in the brain). The areas of the brain most affected? The ones dedicated to reasoning, attention and memory. The most common treatment for OSA sufferers is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which provides a constant stream of air via a face mask. The good news? The study also showed that patients who used the CPAP treatment for three months experienced an increase in brain tissue, thus reversing the damage caused by OSA. Surgery is also an option for OSA sufferers. If you're concerned about your sleeping patterns, consult a medical professional.
Assess Your Cardiovascular Risk
There's more at stake than just your heart when conditions like high cholesterol and high blood pressure put your cardiovascular health at risk—your brain may be in danger, too. A 10-year study presented at the 2011 American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting showed that participants with higher levels of risk for cardiovascular disease were "more likely to have lower cognitive function and a faster rate of overall cognitive decline compared to those with the lowest risk of heart disease." The study also found that women experienced a worse decline in memory than men (7.1 percent decline in memory scores versus a 2.8 percent decline when both sexes showed a 10 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease).

by Rivini Research

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