Does Your Brain Have to Age?
Most of us assume that as we get older our memory is bound to deteriorate like an old radio with faulty reception. We figure that losing keys, struggling with names and other signs of forgetfulness are the natural outcome of having lived past 60. This common attitude is usually summed up with a shoulder shrug and four words: “What can you do?”
The two-word answer: a lot. Even when your memory has already started unraveling. Even though aging is the single most important risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
Mental decline is not a foregone conclusion as you age. You can have a vibrant, agile memory long past retirement. You just have to be serious about protecting it.
Take Sherman, a 71-year-old artist who came to see us at Amen Clinics because his memory and decision-making had been slipping and he felt increasingly estranged from himself. We evaluated him using our new BRIGHT MINDS Program, which is designed to identify and treat all 11 risk factors that contribute to memory problems. Here is what the words BRIGHT MINDS stand for:
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
In addition to being 20 pounds overweight, Sherman had a number of BRIGHT MINDS vulnerabilities, including low blood flow to his brain on SPECT imaging as well as high blood glucose, homocysteine and ferritin, or iron—all tied to faster aging. Sherman took his situation seriously and donated blood to lower his iron, adopted our Memory Rescue Diet (more on that, below) and started exercising. Within three months he had lost 22 pounds and felt his memory had improved; within six months he was healthier than before his problems had started.
In addition to getting older, the general risk factors associated with living past retirement age are:
- Not working or working less than half-time
- Social isolation
- A lack of new learning
- Having attained less than a high school education
It’s a good idea to have a checkup with your health-care provider to evaluate your current state of health. Request these specific lab tests:
- Telomere length (telomeres are casings at the ends of chromosomes that shorten with age; people with longer telomeres tend to live longer)
You can take these simple steps to make sure your mind and memory are sharp for years to come:
- Spend at least 15 minutes a day learning something new, such as a language, a musical instrument or dance moves
- Take your health seriously—eat well, exercise, get seven hours of sleep a night
- Eat more antioxidant-rich foods like cocoa, walnuts, blueberries, artichokes and pomegranates, and more choline-rich foods like eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, scallops, shrimp, salmon, cod, chickpeas, and lentils
- Limit your consumption of charred meats
- Supplement your diet with a good multivitamin/mineral, extra vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids EPA/DHA and the following nutraceuticals to strengthen your brain: PS (phosphatidylserine), alpha GPC (alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine), ALCAR (acetyl-L-carnitine), huperzine A, saffron (standardized extract), sage
- Try a daily 12-to-16-hour fast to help your brain clear out debris (if dinner is at 7 pm, breakfast should be no earlier than 7 am)
- Get the social support you need so you aren’t isolated or lonely
- Volunteer for an organization you believe in
- Donate blood if your ferritin is too high
Watch this video below to hear Dr. Daniel Amen explain the important role retirement and aging plays in BRIGHT MINDS & how to prevent memory problems.
To learn more about Amen Clinics Memory Program based on Dr. Amen’s BRIGHT MINDS approach, check it out HERE.