If you find yourself forgetting things and you’re out of shape, getting fit could be the path back to a better memory.
The reason: Aerobic exercise provides greater blood flow to your brain, especially to the hippocampus, a region that’s crucial to memory. New research in 51 healthy men and women, ages 18-35, found that those who had the highest fitness levels had a firmer, more elastic hippocampus and scored the best on memory tests.
Healthy blood flow is crucial to your brain—and to your whole body. In fact, if you keep your blood vessels healthy you may be able to avoid not only memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, but also high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and erectile dysfunction, among other health problems. You’ll also have a lot more energy and you’re less likely to be overweight.
Blood flow is so important, we’ve made it the first risk factor in the Amen Clinics’ new BRIGHT MINDS Program, which identifies and treats the 11 risk factors that can steal your memory and your mind. We now know this is the best way to keep your memory sharp for the rest of your life.
The risks are summed up in the words BRIGHT MINDS, which is an easy way to remember them:
B – Blood Flow
R – Retirement/Aging
I – Inflammation
G – Genetics
H – Head Trauma
T – Toxins
M – Mental Health
I – Immunity/Infection Issues
N – Neurohormone Deficiencies
D – Diabesity
S – Sleep Issues
You’ll know blood flow is a risk factor for you if you have any of the following:
- Hypertension or prehypertension
- Cardiovascular disease
- Cholesterol problems
- Erectile dysfunction
- Sedentary lifestyle (exercise less than twice a week)
But if you’re unsure whether or not you have blood flow problems, we recommend that you pay a visit to your health-care provider for a checkup where your blood pressure is measured and you get the following lab tests:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Lipid panel (including total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides)
There are lots of ways to improve your blood flow, including treating high blood pressure, cholesterol or other vascular problems, and avoiding cigarettes and caffeine, which constricts blood flow to the brain. Here are more easy, beneficial moves:
- Drink more water and green tea
- Limit salt
- Take a good multivitamin/mineral, vitamin D, magnesium and an omega-3 EPA/DHA supplement daily
- Support your memory with ginkgo biloba extract
- Enjoy an ounce of dark chocolate every day (for the cocoa flavanols)
- Eat more beets, green leafy vegetables, berries, pumpkin seeds and cayenne pepper
And, of course, exercise! Racquet sports are particularly beneficial: A 2016 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that followed more than 80,000 adults found that those who played tennis, table tennis, squash and other racquet sports had the lowest risk of dying during the nearly decade-long research. Swimming and aerobics are good choices, too. And if you walk, just be sure to keep up the pace to get the most benefits.
Watch this video below to hear Dr. Daniel Amen explain the importance of blood flow and how to improve it to prevent memory problems.
To find out more about the BRIGHT MINDS Program and how to get your blood flow on track and restore your memory (or that of someone you love), get a copy of Dr. Amen’s new book, Memory Rescue, which is now available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.