Have you ever traveled so much that you wake up and have no idea where you are? Well, that happened to me several times since crossing times zones back and forth in the past 7 weeks. I finally settled into the USA Eastern Standard Time zone. But for a few days I thought I was going insane or getting early onset of Alzheimer’s as I would wake up totally disoriented without any idea of where I was (no drugs or alcohol involved). This experience made me feel first-hand how essential our memory and comprehension of our surroundings are to the sense of self and well-being.
Many patients I see in my practice start exhibiting early memory loss and some eventually progress to full Alzheimer’s disease over-time. There are no guarantees that anyone will be spared. However, studies and my experience show that certain life style choices can prevent or slow down the deterioration of our brains. Forget lumosity. Here is something more straightforward you can implement into your life. My top 5 picks of helping memory to remember go to:
1. Yoga. I believe that deliberate coordinated body movements synchronized with breath promote healthy neuro-pathways. Stress reduction and relaxation that comes with yoga further helps to negate outside factors on overall aging which includes brain and memory.
2. Engage. Whether it’s drawing, playing a new instrument, traveling, or making small talk with strangers…all of these experiences help you to remember better.
3. Grimace. Practice facial expressions in front of the mirror (surprise, contempt, happiness, etc). This is why we call them neuro-linguistic pathways. Every decoded emotion exercises neurons. Exericsing those nerve pathways keeps them active, flexible and healthy. Also, see how you interpret emotions in others: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/well-quiz-the-mind-behind-the-eyes/
4. Memorize. A poem, a piece of beautiful prose, or even a quote – anything that uses your memory muscle. Memorizing keeps it active. It’s like work with your body – if you don’t use it, you lose it.
5. Eat. Top memory foods are garlic, fish, fish oil, walnuts, blueberries, broccoli, tomatoes and low glycemic index grains. Supplement with B1, B6, B12 and C vitamins.
So, even when life throws a lot of unpredictability your way, take these small steps to exercise your brain every day and in the process maintain and keep your memory!