Fix Your Memory Now!

How is your memory?

Do you ever walk into a room to get something and can’t remember what you are there for?

Poor cognitive function is a part of the ageing process. Right?

Wrong! We now know that our lifestyle choices are what impacts our brain health and that if we made smarter choices over the decades, we could maintain healthier brain function for life.

How the brain works

“We are designed to be smart people our entire lives. The brain is supposed to work well until our last breath.” (Dr David Perlmutter: The Grain Brain)

Our twenty-first century lifestyles have derailed our health. The diseases we are predisposed to today, (eg, heart disease, diabetes, dementia), are brought on by our lifestyle not being in sync with our genetic makeup.

It is correct to think that increased risk factors exist for people with a family history of a particular disease, such as heart disease, autoimmunity or cancer. But succumbing to these diseases is not a fait accompli. The same applies to brain health. Not only do we have the ability to reduce these risk factors, but we can actually reprogram some of our DNA to work more beneficially. Our brains are like plastic – we can repair and regenerate new brain tissue.

What we can do to improve brain function

Our food choices, the exercise we get or neglect to get, our sleep quality, the stress that we feel or avoid and even the relationships we have with friends and family, all have an influence on our genes and the way they are expressed. We now know that we can alter around 70% of the genes that directly impact on our health and longevity. This is exciting news!

A particular type of protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) plays an important role in creating new neurons. Studies of patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s, show that these patients had far lower levels of BDNF. Those people who had higher levels of BDNF in their blood had less than half the risk for dementia. Low levels of BDNF are also linked to the following conditions: schizophrenia, depression, bipolar, anxiety, addictive behaviours including alcohol, sleep & eating disorders, obesity and a history of suicide attempts. So, if we know what to do to generate more BDNF, do we have the secret to better brain function? You bet!

Ways of elevating your BDNF

  • Exercise – when you exercise, you exercise your genes. Genes that are linked to longevity are turned on. The more we move, the fitter our brain becomes.
  • Caloric restriction – extensive human studies continually report that with caloric restriction comes an increase in BDNF production and improvements in memory and other brain functions. Since 1970, our caloric intake has increased by 23% and most of this is sugar & refined flour. If we returned to our calorie intake of 50 years ago, we would be practicing caloric restriction and better dietary choices. Intermittent fasting also activates the production of BDNF.
  • Ketogenic diet – this describes a diet that contains moderate levels of protein, high levels of good fats and low levels of carbohydrates. Eating good fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, fish oils, coconut oil, olives, olive oil and flaxseed have resulted in significant improvements in cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients. This dietary choice also has been shown to reduce amyloid plaques in the brain (observed in patients with cognitive decline), increase the production of glutathione (a potent brain-protective antioxidant) and an increase in the size of the hippocampus – the part of the brain connected to our memory and emotions. It also helps stimulate the growth of our mitochondria, the ‘mini factories’ contained within our cells where we make our energy. Put quite simply, when the body is in ketosis, it makes ketones for fuel instead of relying on sugar. The brain loves this!
  • Gluten – there is increasingly more evidence to show that gluten consumption can impact the health of our brains in much the same way as it can affect our gut lining or the walls of our small intestine. Gluten consumption can cause leaky gut and we now know that it can cause leaky brain. If you experience brain fog and poor memory, avoid gluten for a two to three months and note the changes in your level of cognition and memory. Include other recommendations listed here and you will easily notice the difference!
  • Curcumin (in turmeric) – this phyto-nutrient has the ability to increase BDNF in the brain. Studies reveal that this translates to an improvement in memory, improved attention and general mood.
  • DHA (in fish oils) – one-quarter of the brain is DHA, a type of omega-3 fat found in fish oil. This is an important constituent of the cell wall and its presence has a major impact on cell health. If taken as a supplement this nutrient can facilitate the growth & function of the brain, as well as help reduce inflammation in the brain. DHA can help regulate the production of BDNF, which we know benefits brain function.
  • Intellectual stimulation – in much the same way that we can stimulate the growth of muscle by lifting weights and eating the right nutrients, our brains can be stimulated and respond with growth and memory improvement. By choosing to learn a new language or musical instrument, solving crosswords and puzzles, further education and reading widely, even exercise like weight training or learning something challenging and new, can bolster our brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. I include the act of meditation here as well as the evidence is now undeniable, that regular meditation reduces the chances of developing poor memory with ageing.

Take charge of your brain’s destiny today with smart food and lifestyle choices and maintain great brain health for life! 

Want To Live Longer, Live Healthier? Who Doesn’t!

… Start by looking after your “telomeres”. These are the tiny end units of our DNA strands, which prevent the DNA from unraveling. (… Think of a shoelace which has it’s ends bound tightly.)  As our cells replicate our telomeres shorten. Longer telomeres lead to longevity. So how do we lengthen them?

Lengthen your telomeres, live longer & healthier with a few simple lifestyle adjustments:
  1. Improve your quality of sleep each night.
  2. Reduce stress with regular meditation and relaxation. 
  3. Exercise regularly and include HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) one to two times a week.
  4. Eat the right fats.  Include a small amount of good fats at each meal and snack, eg. nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, olives, deep-sea fish, fish oils.
  5. Keep vitamin D levels adequate.  Include deep-sea fish, eggs, mushrooms (grown in sunlight). Expose skin daily to sunlight to boost your own production of Vitamin D. In Summer you’ll need less time in the sun because of the higher UV Index. This varies a little depending on location and season of the year.
  6. Reduce levels of inflammation by avoiding or greatly reducing refined processed carbohydrates, deep-fried foods, alcohol, caffeine, added sugars including artificial sweeteners. Choose green leafy vegetables, quality protein, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruit & vegetables, free-range eggs, herbs.
  7. Reduce risk factors – quit smoking & recreational drugs, reduce alcohol intake, include daily movement and exercise.         … Does any of this sound familiar? 

Easy Steps to Feel Better Fast

Our brains are our control-centres, for decision-making and mood. Here are some easy steps to jump start your brain in the morning and feel better fast:

  1. Water your brain on rising – your brain is 80% water, so even the slightest dehydration can elevate stress hormones and impair physical power and focus. Your skin is a reflection of brain health. If your skin is dehydrated, so is your brain.
  2. Move your body – start your day with gentle stretching, walking or yoga to improve blood flow to your brain. 
  3. Eat brain food for breakfast – include high quality protein, such as eggs, fish, yoghurt or protein powder; some healthy fat like coconut, seeds & nuts, avocado, nut butters; along with some smart carbs, such as greens, berries and oats.
  4. Snack smart – eating a small am and pm protein-based snack, with some smart carbs (sustaining, low GI), will keep blood sugar evenly balanced, prevent sugar cravings and provide a boost of energy.
  5. Supplement with brain nutrients – fish oil, probiotics, magnesium and vitamin D all support brain health.

What We Should All Know about Homocysteine

Homocysteine is a protein that occurs naturally in our blood. Sometimes when it’s conversion is impaired due to nutritional deficiencies, homocysteine levels rise and this is dangerous to our health. These high levels have been linked with cardiovascular disease, migraine, cognitive decline, diabetes, osteoporosis and macular degeneration.

You can regulate your homocysteine levels by:

  1. reducing coffee intake to 1-2 cups per day.
  2. eating more fruit and vegetables to increase folate. Good sources of folate include green leafy vegetables like spinach, asparagus and broccoli, and fruits such as strawberries and blackberries.
  3. increasing vitamins B6 and B12.  Chickpeas, salmon, chicken, bananas, sweet potatoes, lentils and sunflower seeds are all good sources of these B vitamins.
  4. losing weight, if you are overweight.

Have your homocysteine levels checked the next time your doctor recommends a routine blood test. It should be 6 or lower for optimal health!

Boost Your Health with Apple Cider Vinegar!

Apple Cider Vinegar has been used in the kitchen and medicinally for a very long time. 

Here are 3 healthful reasons to keep a bottle on hand:

  1. Sore throat – gargle with a mix of apple cider vinegar and warm water, 1 Tbsp vinegar and 1/2 cup of water, to relieve a sore throat. Gargle and swallow. Can repeat this 2-3 times daily.
  2. Sinus congestion – gargling with apple cider vinegar also helps to break up and reduce mucous in the throat and sinuses, helping to curtail an infection.
  3. Acid reflux and heartburn – acid reflux results from having too little acid in your stomach. Improve your stomach acidity by taking 1 Tbsp of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water daily. This can also help to improve intestinal spasms.

Other well documented uses include for weight loss, reducing blood sugar levels, skin irritations and even boosting energy. An excellent first aid product for everyone’s pantry!

3 Ways to Turn Back the Clock

Nothing ages a person more than a stooped posture and diminishing strength, ie. muscle wasting. Some side-effects of ageing include: decreased muscle mass and strength, limited mobility, reduced aerobic capacity, inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis, increased susceptibility to diabetes, and there is now clear evidence of the link between sedentary lifestyle and  memory loss. Both a sedentary lifestyle & poor food choices can be responsible for many of these changes.

3 Ways to Turn Back the Clock now:

  1. Put down the remote and pick up the weights! … Weight-bearing exercise 3-4 times a week helps build muscle strength, increases muscle tone or mass, builds bone density, increases mobility and improves both heart & cognitive function. It’s never too late to start – walk taller today! 
  2. Avoid skipping meals and/or short-cutting meals with poor alternatives.  …Improving dietary choices is important for providing the energy needed to perform exercise and recover adequately afterwards. If food intake is well-timed around daily exercise, you will discover the energy you never knew you had. Walk more energetically today!
  3. Weight training is great exercise for the brain as well as the body! … Lifting weights helps improve cognitive function by stimulating mental focus while performing the exercises. Walk with purpose and remember where you are going today!