Memory loss can be defined as the process of losing the ability to store and remember information. Memory function depends on a healthy and fully nourished nervous system and brain.
A lot of people experience memory lapses. Some memory problems are serious, and others are not. People who have serious changes in their memory, personality, and behaviour may suffer from a form of brain disease called dementia. Dementia seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities. Alzheimer's disease is one of many types of dementia.
Age-related memory changes:
- Able to function independently and pursue normal activities, despite occasional memory lapses
- Able to recall and describe incidents of forgetfulness
- May pause to remember directions, but doesn’t get lost in familiar places
- Occasional difficulty finding the right word, but no trouble holding a conversation
- Judgment and decision-making ability the same as always
Symptoms that may indicate dementia:
- Difficulty performing simple tasks (paying bills, dressing appropriately, washing up); forgetting how to do things you’ve done many times
- Unable to recall or describe specific instances where memory loss caused problems
- Gets lost or disoriented even in familiar places; unable to follow directions
- Words are frequently forgotten, misused, or garbled; Repeats phrases and stories in the same conversation
- Trouble making choices; May show poor judgment or behave in socially inappropriate ways
- Dehydration can cause memory problems and confusion.
- Pre-packaged foods almost always contain brain-unhealthy ingredients, even if you buy them from the health food store.
- Three of the worst are the artificial sweeteners Aspartame, Sucralose and MSG.
- Excessive glucose affects your attention span, your short term memory, and your mood stability. It increases free radical damage and inflammation of the brain. Low blood sugar levels can also affect memory.
- Your brain needs healthy fats like the kind found in nuts, avocados, eggs, oily fish, olive oil, and coconut oil. Healthy fats prevent memory loss.
- Both quantity and quality of sleep are important to memory. Getting too little sleep or waking frequently in the night can lead to fatigue, which interferes with the ability to consolidate and retrieve information. Sleep apnea should be excluded as a cause of poor sleep.
- Our bodies are meant to move, but most of us spend 10-12 hours a day sitting. Exercise moves more oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Walking or exercises with a strong mind-body connection like Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi gong may provide the best benefits for the brain.
- Prolonged stress leads to anxiety, depression, poor decision making, insomnia, and memory loss. It puts you at greater risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Too much of the stress hormone cortisol leads to poor brain function.
Common deficiencies that affect memory and overall brain health and function are:
Prevention and Treatment of memory loss:
The following diet, lifestyle changes and supplements can help prevent or improve memory loss:
- Gluten free diet
- Eliminate all simple carbohydrates and processed foods from their diet.
- Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and wild fish (not farm-raised fish)
- Include healthy fats in your diet such as nuts, avocados, eggs, oily fish, olive oil, coconut oil.
- Drink 6 - 8 glasses of water per day.
- Stop smoking and excess alcohol consumption.
- Exercise daily, even a 30-minute walk can help.
- Reduce stress through practices such as yoga and meditation.
- Sleep for at least 8 hours each night. Turning off your electronic devices a few hours before bedtime is one of the best things you can do to get the sleep your brain needs. A sleep study may be helpful in diagnosing sleep apnea.
- Research suggests that the health of the digestive system may affect memory and thinking skills. Therefore maintaining gut health with probiotics, L-glutamine and digestive enzymes is beneficial. As well as supporting liver health with supplements such as liverscript.
- Supplements such as vitamin D3, methylcobalamin (vitamin B12), folic acid, magnesium and ashwagandha are useful.
- Reducing inflammation in the body and the brain with supplements such as curcumin and fish oils.
- Optimising antioxidants with the use of mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), N-acetyl cysteine, alpha-lipoic acid, blueberries, vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, acetyl-L-carnitine, selenium, zinc and resveratrol are recommended.
- Phosphatidylserine (supplements such as IQscript) may help improve memory function.
- Treat thyroid or low sex hormones
- Get rid of mercury through a medical detoxification program
- Brain training is a powerful tool which supports brain function and may be beneficial for improving memory function.
It is vital to get help and advice from an Integrative Doctor in order to ensure that your body and mind are in good health. For more information or to book an appointment with one of our integrative doctors, please contact your nearest Health Renewal Branch as soon as possible.