Forgetting where you parked your car, confusing the names of coworkers or losing your train of thought can all be frustrating, scary experiences – and they can happen before you are a senior citizen. Although memory lapses tend to happen more frequently the older you are, forgetfulness can occur at any age. Luckily, studies have shown that cognitive decline is preventable.
According to a group of scientists from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, it’s never too early – or too late – to increase brain power. As published in the July 2013 issue of the journal Neurology, these researchers showed that greater cognitive activity in childhood, middle age and in old age makes your brain better later on.
There are various strategies for preserving mental acuity. The following five are among the top picks for those hoping to stay mentally sharp right now and in the future:
- Exercise Your Mind – Being immobile in a wheelchair or on a couch for days on end can cause muscles to atrophy. Likewise, failing to exercise your mind can lead to cognitive decline. If your profession does not provide a mental challenge, engage in mind exercise by doing crossword puzzles, playing chess, Sudoku or other cognition-fueled games.
- Exercise Your Body – Physical activity seems to help every part of the body – brain included. According to John J. Ratey, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of A User’s Guide to the Brain, “… exercise is like taking a little Prozac or a little Ritalin at just the right moment. Exercise is really for the brain, not the body. It affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being.” Physical exercise affects many areas of the brain. This stimulation helps maintain the health and longevity of the nervous system.
- Have Orgasms – Whether achieved solo or with a partner, orgasms nourish the brain with oxygen. Rutgers University researchers Barry Komisaruk and Nan Wise found that a woman’s orgasm increases blood flow to ALL parts of her brain. This finding is important, because a complete surge of circulation throughout the head is not seen in other activities; and it has many mental health benefits. Increasing circulation throughout the brain prevents atrophy and strengthens neuronal connections.
- Eat Brain Food – Consume one or more of these foods containing brain nourishing substances: blueberries and greens (contains potent antioxidants to reduce inflammation from oxidation), and salmon and avocados (contain healthy fats that help nerve cell conduction and repair.) Preventing inflammation deters against nerve cell damage that can cause memory lapses, while nourishing nerves strengthens nerve cell function.
- Take Supplements to Increase Cognition – Certain supplements help increase circulation in the brain which reduces cognitive decline. Several of the most lauded nutrients for this purpose include
- ginkgo biloba, which protects brain cell elasticity
- acetyl-L-carnitine, which supports neurotransmitter production
- DHA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid that promotes nerve cell membrane health
If you are aiming to live long with a sharp mind, prioritize caring for your central nervous system. By combining mental, physical and sexual exercise with carefully chosen food and supplements, you will be better equipped to fend off forgetfulness, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Moreover, you stand a chance of enjoying the rewards of a keen memory and sharp cognition well into your golden years.