Do you ever walk into a room and forget what you went in there for? Or perhaps I should ask how many times a day? Researchers say that as you approach your 50s, it’s normal to notice that your memory isn’t as sharp. But having a significant memory problem isn’t normal—it could be a sign of dementia. The good news is that just like other chronic diseases—such as heart disease, diabetes and many cancers—dementia is largely preventable.
Eliminate the Causes First
Memory problems for example, can be a side effect of certain medications such as sleeping pills, pain medications and anti-depressants. They are also common with alcohol or drug abuse, smoking, sleep deprivation, and stress. Exposure to toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides are another source, as well as certain nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B1 and B12.
Diet and Lifestyle Tips to Avoid Dementia
Simple diet and lifestyle changes can dramatically lower your risk of dementia. Avoid inflammation-promoting foods such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, red meat, gluten, casein and fast foods. Instead, favor fresh organically grown fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and omega-3 fatty acids. Dietary supplements that are good for your brain include turmeric, alpha-lipoic acid, and probiotics, and the herbs ginkgo biloba and gotu kola. Also be sure to limit alcohol to only one or two glasses a day, socialize regularly with good friends, exercise every day—at least 30 minutes of brisk walking is ideal—and get the most from your sleep—that means sleeping 7-8 hours a night between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am.
Exercising your brain is also important. Working crossword puzzles or learning a new language are great. But certain computer training programs have been shown to be even better. For example, research shows that Lumosity (www.lumosity.com) and Posit Science (www.positscience.com) cause significant and long lasting improvements in cognitive abilities.
Remember that memory problems and dementia are largely preventable and you can minimize your risk by simply following some of these tips.