Where did I put my keys? Didn’t I already pay this bill? I know you just told me five minutes ago, but what’s your name again?
We’re all susceptible to senior moments – minor cases of forgetfulness or confusion that are hardly limited to senior citizens. Sometimes senior moments are frustrating. Sometimes they’re funny.
Even though these mental glitches are usually harmless, they can make us wonder if we’re losing our mental capacity. Fortunately, we can follow a plan that can help minimize these senior moments. I like to call it your personal brain management program.
Step 1: Balance Fat Consumption
For most of us, that means increasing omega-3 fats, such as those found in cold-water fish, flax, and walnuts. It also means reducing consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like corn, cottonseed and safflower oils, and eliminating dangerous trans fats. Balancing the consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fats can be accomplished through dietary changes, and supplements are needed in many cases.
Step 2: Reduce Homocysteine Levels
Research suggests that high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood, can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as heart and blood vessel disease. Most people don’t know their homocysteine number, so it’s important to ask your doctor about getting tested. Treatment for high homocycsteine commonly involves taking certain B vitamins.
Step 3: Consume Plenty of Antioxidants
Antioxidants help protect brain cells from free radicals. Free radicals are damaged cells that are missing a molecule and consequently kill and injure healthy cells in order to acquire that missing molecule. The brain is very susceptible to free radical damage, so we need to make sure we’re getting enough antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants, although supplementation may be necessary.
Step 4: Reduce Stress
Chronic, prolonged stress can lead to elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which is toxic to a key memory center in the brain called the hippocampus. This results to the destruction of cells in this portion of the brain. By reducing stress, we can control our cortisol levels and reduce damage to memory cells in the brain.
Step 5: Exercise your Body and Mind
Physical exercise helps stave off cardiovascular disease by reducing blockages in small blood vessels that supply nourishment to brain cells. Mental exercise, from doing puzzles to learning new skills, can help keep our minds sharp.
Step 6: Supplement if Necessary
Supplementation can improve brain function but only by knowing what the proper supplement is for the specific patient and condition. Remember, we can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Supplements commonly taken to improve brain function include phosphatidylserine, acetyl-L-carnitine, ginkgo biloba, coenzyme Q10, alpha-lipoic acid and N-acetyl-cysteine. Be sure to consult a doctor who has an in-depth knowledge of supplements before beginning any kind of supplementation program.
Obviously, there are more than six factors to consider when implementing a plan designed to enhance the performance of your brain. Make sure you review these and other factors with a qualified health professional before developing or changing your personal brain management program.
Although these steps can certainly improve brain function, I can’t guarantee that senior moments will disappear. Would life be nearly as much fun without them?
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.