Author: Christin Sander, Health Writer
Most of us have walked into a room only to forget why we went there in the first place, forgotten someone's name, or misplaced our car keys. Forgetfulness is a common complaint among older adults in particular. These periodic memory lapses may be frustrating, but are not usually cause for alarm. Memory loss, although common, doesn't have to be inevitable. There are simple preventative measures that can promote brain health, improve brain function and enhance both long and short-term memory.
Aromatherapy to Improve Memory
Racing thoughts and daily fatigue can lead to short-term memory issues. Aromatherapy is highly effective for clearing the mind and reducing anxiety and stress. Inhalation of aromatherapeutic essential oils triggers the limbic system and emotional centers of the brain. Certain oils awaken the senses and promote alertness of the mind while simultaneously relaxing the body. Some good choices for mental stimulation and stress reduction are lavender, rosemary, mint, sage, and citrus oils.
Activities that Counteract Stress
Stress is a leading cause of forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. Oversecretion of stress hormones negatively impacts memory function. Daily participation in activities that reduce stress will curb overproduction of stress hormones and lead to clearer brain function. Some ideas include meditation, self-hypnosis, massage, or participating in active hobbies.
Regular Mental Activity
Like a muscle, the brain needs exercise to work properly and remain strong. Challenging the brain with increasingly difficult tasks increases brain function. Regular mental stimulation also reduces stress. There are a variety of brain training puzzles and activities to challenge the mind. Find them in book stores or even through apps on your smart phone. Make mental exercise a regular part of your routine just like physical exercise to reap the full benefits.
Nutrition and Supplements
Proper brain function depends on a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid found in fish, nuts, and seeds. It plays a vital role in the functioning of cell membranes. DHA improves communications between brain cells. A lack of omega-3 can lead to communication breakdowns in the brain. Antioxidants come from a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. They fight free radical damage, boost cognitive function, and protect against the development of dementia and Alzheimer's.
As we age, brain enhancing nutrients are not as readily absorbed by the body. In addition to a sound diet, it is wise to choose a supplement(s) that provides the vital nutrients your brain needs. B vitamins are required for proper brain function. Vitamin C and magnesium promote the production of neurotransmitters and improve nerve impulses in the brain. Amino acids like choline, selenium, and acetyl-L-carnitine are also vital to brain health.
Exercise and Fitness
Regular physical exercise that includes mind-body connection activities like yoga help focus the mind, relieve stress and keep you sharp. Aging leads to decreased oxygenation and blood flow to the brain. Over time, this impairs memory and leads to cognitive decline. Regular exercise counteracts this tendency, increasing blood flow and preventing damage.
There are herbs that promote brain health and improve memory including gotu kola, ginko biloba, and rosemary. Gotu kola is traditionally used to support healthy brain and nervous system functions. It balances the mood and enhances concentration and attention span. Ginko biloba aids memory and cognitive function by improving circulation to the brain. Rosemary elevates the mood, relieves stress and enhances mental clarity and focus.