Evidence suggests memory decline can be slowed and even reversed by adopting a few healthy lifestyle habits.
A recent article in the British newspaper The Guardian carried a very practical and easy to follow prescription for improving memory as we age. The article was written by Dr. Gary Small who is a Professor of Psychiatry and Aging and Director of the Longevity Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Small reported that the typical 45-year-old has worse memory than a 25-year-old, and our brains will continue to decline if we do nothing to protect them. However, if we intervene early, we can slow the decline. It’s always easier to protect a healthy brain than to try to repair damage once it is extensive.
Although there is a genetic component to healthy aging, lifestyle habits may be more critical than genes. The landmark MacArthur Studies on Successful Aging showed that, on average, non-genetic factors are more important than genetics in determining how well and long we live, suggesting that we have more control than we realize over remaining healthy as we get older. Compelling scientific evidence points to a formula for successful aging, in particular four habits that facilitate ageing well.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent for CNN has written and widely reported that 65% to 70% of our health outcomes are associated with lifestyle factors while only 30% to 35% is correlated to genetic predisposition.
You don’t have to become a triathlete to live better for longer – 20 minutes of daily brisk walking will lower your risk for dementia and improve your overall health. Exercise produces proteins that stimulate brain cells to sprout branches and communicate more effectively. Workouts boost endorphins, which lift mood.
Playing games, socializing and travelling activate brain cells, and a university education is associated with a lower dementia risk. We can also train our brains using memory methods to compensate for everyday forgetfulness. These methods can help us focus attention and use mental images and associations to make information meaningful and memorable.
Stress shrinks the brain’s memory centres, and the stress hormone cortisol temporarily impairs memory. However, meditation, yoga, tai chi and other relaxation methods can reverse stress and improve mood and memory.
Mid-life obesity increases the risk of late-life dementia, but portion control and exercise can help people avoid obesity. Obese people who lose weight experience significant, lasting memory improvements after just 12 weeks. Omega-3 fats from fish or nuts fight inflammation associated with neurodegeneration. Fruit and vegetables combat age-related oxidative stress that causes wear and tear on brain cells.
It is never too early or too late to start living more healthily. Your daily habits have more impact on how long and how well you live than your genes, and you can take control of your longevity by following the formula for successful aging: exercise your body, stimulate your mind, manage stress and eat right so you can enjoy yourself as you live better for longer.
For additional support, nutritional supplementation with products like Cavanex with Seanol® or Mitogenis can also be added to your daily regimen.