Being forgetful can happen at any time and at any age. We live in a world of distractions, so misplacing your keys and forgetting to lock the front door from time to time is fairly typical and “normal”. As we age, however, those “senior moments” tend to happen more frequently, and can be a little scary.
Fortunately, there is a lot we can do to minimize the slowing down of our brains as we age. Here are just a few suggestions:
Ditch the Sugar and Saturated Fats
A diet high in sugar can actually be harmful to the brain, causing inflammation, poor insulin regulation and oxidative stress. Saturated and trans fats (those found in processed foods and fatty meats), can damage blood vessels, reducing blood flow. Aim for a lower-glycemic diet filled with whole foods – lean proteins, plant fats such as nuts, seeds and avocados, lots of fiber, and brightly colored vegetables and fruits. Anti-oxidant rich foods, such as berries, but especially blueberries, contain a compound called anthocyanins that aid in communication between brain cells and seem to improve memory, learning and overall cognitive performance. Omega-3 fats, such as those found in salmon, flax, walnuts and chia seeds, help to preserve cell membranes in the brain, and prevent it from shrinking.
When we are relaxed, our brains are actually able to learn and retain more information. Studies have shown that the cortisol released due to chronic stress can damage and kill cells in the hippocampus, the area in the brain responsible for episodic memory. Mindfully taking time out each day for meditation, deep breathing exercises and/or yoga can help strengthen your brain by decreasing the stress response and can possibly help to develop new connections for brain cells.
Keep Learning and moving forward
Studies show that advanced education is associated with a stronger memory as a person ages, with a lack of education being a strong predictor of cognitive decline. Read books, take classes at a local community college or online courses – get out of your comfort zone and challenge your brain with new activities or hobbies. The more you try to learn and continue to set new goals for yourself, the less decline we see. The latest Alzheimer’s research has shown that those who regularly make future plans and set goals have a 50% less chance of developing the disease than those who don’t.
We all know that exercise is great for the heart, but scientists are now starting to think that exercise is one of the single most important things you can do for the long-term health of your brain. Regular daily physical exercise enhances cognitive function by increasing certain proteins in the brain. It also helps to maintain a stable blood glucose, which can increase mental sharpness and preserve memories as people age.
Get Those Zzzzz’s
Our brains store daily memories when we sleep, so in order to remember even the most basic details, you must be well rested. Our cognitive skills, memory and ability to think clearly and communicate effectively are all compromised when we are sleep deprived. Studies show that taking a short nap after learning something new can help to store it in your long-term memory.
There are several essential oils that have been studied extensively when it comes to memory and brain health, and two of these are Rosemary and Peppermint. Rosemary contains a compound known as 1,8-cineole that causes an increase in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, the same compound found in the prescription drugs licensed to treat dementia. Acetylcholine is responsible for communication between neurons in the brain and help to promote learning.
Studies have shown that when we breathe in the aromas of rosemary oil, it has a direct and immediate impact on brain chemistry. With inhalation, the oil is able to bypass the liver, entering the bloodstream and then the brain very quickly, stimulating activity, improving brain function and memory and increasing alertness. Peppermint has also consistently shown to help increase alertness, focus and memory.
Because we feel so strongly about the benefits of these oils, we are proud to announce a new product we call “SHARPEN.” Containing both Rosemary and Peppermint essential oil, along with Bergamot, Cardamom and Eucalyptus, SHARPEN is an enlivening focus blend to help energize your mind and focus your thoughts. It is available in a 10ml roller bottle.
So don’t worry about those few senior moments we all tend to experience – science has shown us that by incorporating these lifestyle habits, you can help keep both your body and your brain healthy and sharp!