There are many factors important to brain and memory health. We should consider all of them.
Alzheimer's is something we all want to avoid, and yet it is something that is on all of our minds as we get older. I hear a lot of my patients say that their memory is getting worse as they get older, and that they want to know what supplement they should take for their memory/brain health. To me, there are several things that need to be considered when we talk about memory/brain health, and those are that the brain needs to not only be “exercised” to stay functioning, but we also need to give it the nutrients that benefit it the most.
So what are the nutrients that the brain needs? The first one that always comes to mind is fish oil; especially DHA. The brain is made up of fat, and thus the good fats are going to support our brain more completely. Antioxidants are also important as free radicals and toxins can damage the brain. One of the antioxidants that has been in the news recently is resveratrol. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant found in wine, chocolate, and grapes. Research is currently being done on resveratrol to see what effect it may have on brain health.
Diet also plays an important role in brain health as well as the bodies overall health. Eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies along with good fats, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates gives the body the building blocks that it needs for health. The more packaged, processed, chemically enhanced, and refined foods we ingest the more damage is done to the system. Brain health is going to start in utero, and then the choices we make for our children, as well as ourselves, will have long lasting consequences. We cannot wait until we are older to focus on our brains since we need to do it when we are young, and do this everyday.
Another thing to consider is to make sure that we stimulate the brain, and, of course, watching TV is not going to fill that need necessarily. Reading, and recalling what we read, will support the brain. Some people will do crossword puzzles, sudoku, and there are even cell phone apps for brain training with puzzles and memory challenges. Unfortunately, as we get older it just seems easier to just sit down in front of the TV.
And as we retire from the working world often we don't use our brains as much. So we need to go out of our way to keep the brain active in this case so do things like volunteer, or even take some college classes to engage your brain.
Remember there is no magic memory pill, but there are many things that need to be considered for your brain's health: supplementation, nutrition, and stimulation. Don’t wait until the memory starts going to support your brain. Read to your kids before bed, and ask them questions. Read articles or books, and share them with your partner, or a friend. The brain is something we don’t want to lose so use, feed, and stimulate it daily.