Do you lose your glasses, misplace your keys, leave the garage door open or constantly forget appointments and meetings? Have you been known to lock your car keys in the car and have to call a service? Do you write phone numbers on scraps of paper and envelopes that go missing? By now you may wonder if you’re losing it. In our highly stressed society – you’re not alone.
So what can you do?
1. Get a medical check-up. Anxiety or depressive disorder can affect memory and concentration, so too can brain tumors. Hardening of the arteries or arteriosclerosis as arteries harden causes blood flow and vital oxygen to the brain to be reduced. When supply is reduced, brain efficiency, including that of memory, is also affected. Ten percent of people might suffer from true senility or memory-loss disorders. However, most of us just need a lifestyle shift, to become mindful, instead of absentminded.
2. Reduce Stress. Yale University researchers have found that stressful situations, in which the individual has no control, were found to activate an enzyme in the brain called protein kinase C – which impairs the short-term memory and other functions in the prefrontal cortex, the executive-decision part of the brain. Feeling in control is the key element.
3. Take control of your busy pace of life to help reduce stress and feel more in control. If your schedule is packed tight each and every day, you’re likely doing too much. Your brain is on overload and the circuits are blowing! At times, even computers need to be shut down. List all your projects and activities. When you get them down on paper and actually look at all that you’re doing, you may be shocked at what you expect yourself to handle. If it were someone else’s schedule, you’d tell them to take time out. If you can’t let anything go, ask for help. You need to ask yourself–why must I be in charge of everything?
4. Feed your brain memory enhancing foods that nourish your gray matter to keep up with the demands of your body. The most reliable way to protect brain cells is to eat fruits and vegetables. They’re brimming with antioxidants to protect aging cells against damaging free radicals–elements that break down cells.
The top five antioxidant fruits are: prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries, followed by strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, red grapes, cherries, kiwifruit, white grapes, cantaloupe, banana, apple, apricots, peach, pear and watermelon. Blueberries benefit age-related cognitive functions. Best vegetables include: kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, spinach, garlic, broccoli, beets, red bell pepper, onion, cauliflower, peas, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, string beans, tomato, zucchini and yellow squash.
B-Complex vitamins work in chorus to promote brain and immune system health by protecting nerve tissue against oxidation. They enhance memory and insulating nerve cells. Your body requires B vitamins to produce many neurotransmitters. They work to promote brain and immune system health, protect nerve tissue against oxidation, enhance memory and insulating nerve cells. Besides meat and other protein foods, there are many good vegetarian sources of B vitamins, including whole grain pasta, grains, rice and wheat germ, dark green vegetables, mushrooms and nuts. Vitamin B6, pyridoxine helps the long term memory. Foods containing B6 include: whole grains cereals and breads, spinach, bananas, liver and avocados.
Protein rich foods such as beef and chicken are brain boosters containing Tyrosine, an amino acid. Other amino acids found in yogurt, turkey and low fat milk increase mental alertness and assist the body and brain in times of stress. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in whole grains, has a calming effect on the brain.
Essential Fats are where it’s at. Because the brain cells are largely composed of fat, the right kinds of fat in the diet are one of the most critical elements in creating and maintaining brain health. Omega 3 fatty acids that promote healthy hearts can also help our brains. Cold water fish- salmon, mackerel anchovies, sardines, herring and Atlantic sturgeon are primary sources of healthy fats. Eat fish a minimum of 3 times a week. Canola, olive and flax seed oils are good plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Freshly ground flax seeds added to foods is the best way to have flax.
Choline is needed to build cell membranes, including those in your brain. If your brain is not getting enough choline, then acetylcholine may not connect your memories, ideas, thoughts, associations and every other brain function with the brain cell membranes. Choline is found in egg yolks, lecithin, soy beans, full fat soy flour, liver, brewers yeast, leafy vegetables, wheat germ, milk and beef rump roast. Phosphatidylcholine, found in soy products and lecithin readily converts to acetylcholine, the memory neurotransmitter in the brain. There are some forms of choline available in supplement form.
Boron is a semi metallic element that helps our attention and memory. It is found in raisins, apples, nuts and avocados. Zinc, is an essential mineral that enhances memory and concentration. It can be found in seafood, oysters, fish, legumes, cereals, whole grains, and dark-meat turkey.
Iron enables red blood cells to deliver oxygen throughout the body. Enjoy it in leafy vegetables, raisins, peanut butter, eggs, liver, shellfish, lean meats, soybeans and molasses.
5. A multivitamin and mineral supplement provides you with a good nutritional base. Especially helpful for memory, mood and brain efficiency are: Vitamin E, 400 mg.; Vitamin C, 500 mg; Folic acid, 400 mg.; Lipoic acid, 50 mg and CoQ10, 30 mg. (daily dosages). Folic acid, B6 and B12 are necessary to promote normal homocysteine levels. There’s growing evidence that homocysteine plays a key role in brain (and heart) health. Phosphatidylserine (PS), a phospholipid substance, is a major building block for brain membranes. PS is proven to boost energetic and electrical activity across the entire brain.
6. Maintain a steady blood sugar. Your brain depends upon a steady release of blood sugar to be in top form. Refined carbohydrates such as sweets, white bread or pasta are broken down very quickly, resulting in a rapid rise, followed by a drop in blood sugar. This drastic rise and fall explains why you feel hooked to refined carbohydrates. After your sugar crash, your body is craving that sugar high again–and a negative cycle begins.
However, high fiber carbohydrates such as; whole grains, fruits and vegetables, or a high carbohydrate meal mixed with a little protein–fruit and yogurt, a sandwich, cereal and milk, will cause your blood sugar to rise and fall much more slowly. This slow rise and fall in your blood sugar slows digestion and gives your body, including your brain, a steady fuel source. Healthier carbohydrates keep you feeling full and satisfied from your meal or snack much longer and help you feel more vital and energetic.
7. Stay away from aluminum. Strong research exists in its connection with Alzheimer’s disease. Avoid aluminum cookware, antacids, and any food or drink that comes in an aluminum can. Most antiperspirants contain aluminum too. Use a roll-on or stick, not aerosol. Inhaled aluminum particles may be the most dangerous of all because they travel directly to the brain. Check for brands of antiperspirants without aluminum.
8. Get enough sleep or if possible take cat naps. In just twenty minutes the brain can refresh itself. Adequate sleep–7 to 9 hours a night protects against distress and is vital for rejuvenating the mind as well as the body.
9. Make spaces in your life; don’t fill every moment with purposeful activity. Cherish time alone. Remember the times when you were a child when you experienced the joy of riding your bike or walking your dog. Give your brain down time. Humans were meant to be in nature with plants, trees and grass. Feel the breeze; let it blow through your hair to get rid of all the chatter and turmoil in your mind. Enjoy the sunshine. Let nature nourish your body, your mind, your spirit.
10. Train your mind to focus. Concentrate on one thing at a time. Notice your physical surroundings. Be here; instead of thinking of the past or what you have to do in the future.
A few changes in your lifestyle can help you become mindful, healthier and less frazzled. Resources I recommend on the subject include www.orthomolecular.org, www.increasebrainpower.com and The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle With intention, you can leave forgetfulness behind. Take a few deep breaths and give yourself a gift – come into “the present.”