Many people complain of a having a bad memory. Every time I hear it I wonder why his is so for that person. There are many reasons why our memory and ability to recall is less than ideal, but accepting it as part of life, or aging, isn’t one of them. Thinking there’s nothing you can do to improve it is also untrue.
Neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) are responsible for sending messages around the body so are subsequently responsible for bodily functions. If your mind goes blank in the middle of a sentence, is it likely that that one of those chemicals has short-circuited, most likely due to an inadequate amount of nutrients supplying them.
As is usually the case, firstly we need to look at our diet. The proper nutrients to the brain are vital for retaining memory through to old age, which is indeed achievable. There are certain nutrients that will really help. Manganese nourishes the brain and neurotransmitters. You’ll find manganese in mussels, nuts, organic tofu, legumes, pepitas; B Complex vitamins are essential. Vitamin C will help with circulation and allergies – guava, capsicum, kiwi, tomatoes, Australian Bush tucker food – gubinge and camu camu from the Amazon; Vitamin E will improve blood flow to the brain – hazelnut, sunflower, almond and olive oils and also nuts; Zinc will bind to and remove toxic substances from the brain – pepitas, mushrooms, oyster, whole grains; choline (from soy lecithin) is important for neurotransmitter functioning and B12 is important for memory – animal products, fermented foods, algae or a supplement if you are a vegan. Omega 3 fatty acids are very important. Include sustainable seafood, walnuts, chia, hemp and flax seeds, algae and sea veggies.
Free radicals are dangerous to memory. Foods high in antioxidants will help deal with the removal of free radicals. Raw cacao powder, acai, blueberries, kale, goji berries and organic fruit and veggies.
Avoid unhealthy fats, like those from margarine, factory farmed animals and also any refined oils, including canola, peanut, cottonseed, soy, palm and trans-fats. These fats make our blood more viscous or sticky, thus preventing the blood from flowing smoothly through the blood-brain-barrier to the brain. They must be avoided if you want your brain to function properly.
Other foods to avoid like refined carbohydrates - white flour, bread, rice crackers, cookies, pizza, cakes and donuts can affect brain function. Refined, white sugar and its products ‘shut down’ the brain. They weaken the mind causing a decrease in memory and concentration. To learn more check out 5 More Reasons to Eat Healthy Fats.
Another factor to consider is a heart/mind imbalance.
According to ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine’ the heart controls sleep, memory, consciousness, and spirit and is also where the mind is situated. Those with a good balance between their heart and mind often quickly see through problems and arrive at solutions with ease. Their mind is sharp, so take care of the health of your heart, physically and emotionally.
This will help circulation to your brain and reduce cortisol, (a stress hormone) causing inflammation to be reduced. This will in turn allow the body to perform its functions better. There’s much research on the benefits of deep breathing including ‘yogic breathing’. Here’s a guide to how it’s done.
We now know Turmeric is of great benefit due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also been shown to reduce plaque in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s disease. It also has a wonderful effect on the liver, so this will help remove free radicals from the body. Add the fresh root to your smoothie, juice it, or add100% turmeric powder to your curry, stir-fry, omelette, anything really.
Fresh Air and Sunshine.
Research is now proving what our ancestors knew to do naturally – get outside amongst the trees and other living things and let the sun pours its rays of goodness on you. Let your feet touch the earth as much as you can and do as little as possible. Let your body rest in nature. Watch you mind clear and your memory improve.
Continue to keep your brain active. Reading, crossword puzzles, sudoku – anything that makes it work. Don’t let it get old and lazy. ‘Neuroplasticity’ is the term given to the way the brain can change, constantly, and even into old age, given the opportunity. Check out the book ‘The Brain That Changes Itself’ by Norman Doidge.
Other factors that may affect your memory.
- Low blood sugar (due to insufficient glucose and poor circulation to the brain)
- Candida overgrowth
- Chronic stress
- Thyroid imbalance
- A decreased desire to remember
- Alcohol or drug abuse. Excessive use can cause ‘blackouts’.
- Gingko biloba increases blood flow to the brain
- Rosemary for recall, (a student’s best friend)
- Basil for memory
- Siberian Ginseng is a stimulant
- Brahmi (Bacopa) for recall
- Pay attention, as sometimes our desire to remember as we age decreases
- Practice recall
- Hold your breath for 30 seconds each day for a month. This will help with mental alertness
- Improve poor digestion as this may cause a feeling of heaviness in the head
- Parasites may cause memory loss or brain fog
- Exercise regularly and moderately.
- Decrease your free radical load but taking mad made chemicals out of your daily lives as much as possible. Go green with your cleaning and body products and other household items.
So here’s to having a great memory, right into your winter years. It’s possible, with a little exercise, good food and sunshine.