Keep Your Memory Sharp, the Natural Way

August 07, 2019

"About 40% of people aged 65 or older in the United States have age-related or early memory loss."

Today’s live show is a “don’t miss” in Dr. Nancy’s prevention series. The importance of mental quickness in our careers and in our relationships cannot be overstated. With mental decline, life as we know it fades away, and cases of early memory loss in particular seem to be increasing every year. Don’t just sit on the sidelines; the sooner we do something about it the better. Learn what you need to know about slowing, and maybe even reversing, mental decline in today’s live show.

Video Highlights

  • 07:21: A Little Background Information
  • 11:53: Best Foods for a Healthy Brain
  • 23:40: Worst Foods for Brain Health
  • 29:30: Additional Tips for Protecting Brain Health
  • 40:40: Quick Tips to Reverse Memory Loss
  • 43:38: Wrap-Up

Many of us know and love someone who has fallen victim to the effects of accelerated mental decline, including memory-loss. Imagine all the memories, the greatest moments of your life, the faces you see every day all becoming a fog. 

Today we are going to focus on what you can do help lessen the chances of accelerated mental decline and early memory loss. As you know, nothing can guarantee prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia, but that does not mean you can’t significantly improve your odds of staying mentally sharp as you get older. Some of what we are going to share in terms of tips and advice may appear controversial, or you may not have heard of it before, but it’s information for you to consider so you can decide if you want to apply it to your life. 

A Little Background Information

About 40% of people aged 65 or older in the United States have age-related or early memory loss. That works out to about 16 million people. About 10% of people aged 65 years or older have mild cognitive impairment, and nearly 15% of them eventually develop Alzheimer's disease.

So if you're middle-aged and you think you're losing your memory, know that you're not alone. In fact, one in nine Americans aged 45 and older say they are experiencing mental decline. What makes this so concerning is that noticing a decline in your mental abilities — also known as cognitive decline — is one of the earliest signs of future Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

Speaking of Alzheimer’s disease, did you know that every 66 seconds, someone in the United States will develop Alzheimer’s disease? In fact, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the country - and while there is no cure yet for the disease, we do know the food you eat and your lifestyle choices both matter significantly when it comes to early memory loss and what raises or lowers your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

How to prevent age-related memory loss, which can eventually lead to dangerous and debilitating Alzheimer’s disease, is something that is being well studied and there is new information out every day. And it includes looking at which foods are the most effective to eat, and which to avoid, to improve brain health. 

So let’s start with the foods we need to keep our brains healthy and functioning at a high level as we age. 

Best Foods for a Healthy Brain

Dark Green Leafy Greens

Studies show that dark leafy greens are superfoods for brain health! Kale, spinach, broccoli, collards and other greens are packed with vitamins A and C and other nutrients. At least two servings a week can help, and researchers found six or more servings a week provide the greatest brain benefits.

Study after study found that including greens in addition to other veggies made a significant difference in reducing the risk of memory loss.

Organic Nuts

Almonds, walnuts, cashews and pistachios, among others, are great for supporting brain health. Nuts contain healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants, and tons of vitamins and minerals. In addition to supporting brain health and helping to prevent inflammation in the body, numerous studies have found they can help lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Try to eat at least a handful of organic nuts every day — at least five times a week — in order to protect your brain from memory loss.

Blueberries and Strawberries

Really, any berry is loaded with antioxidants that protect your brain’s health, but blueberries are on the top of the list — the most potent food for protecting the brain.  Strawberries have also shown benefits improving cognitive function. Many doctors and nutritionists recommend eating berries at least twice a week; but we recommend eating them every single day if you can, especially now that they are in season! Eat them as is, toss them in a smoothie, add them to your oatmeal, or even put them on a salad or eat them for dessert. The point is, eat your berries every single day! And since the brain is mostly fat, studies now show that eating them with a healthy fat, like avocado, you get even more benefits. Speaking of avocado…

Avocados

This fruit is one of the healthiest ones you can consume and one of our all-time favorites.
These green powerhouses are packed with monounsaturated fats — the “good” kind of fat — helping keep blood sugar levels steady and your skin glowing.

Avocados contain both vitamin K and folate; avocados help prevent blood clots in the brain as well as help improve cognitive function, especially memory and concentration.

They’re also rich in vitamin B and vitamin C, which aren’t stored in your body and need to be replenished daily. Plus, they have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit. 

An avocado a day keeps inflammation away!

Broccoli

Thank your mom because she got it right when she told you to eat your broccoli! It turns out that it’s actually one of the best brain foods out there. Thanks to its high levels of vitamin K and choline, it will help keep your memory sharp. Not to mention that it’s also loaded with vitamin C — in fact, just one cup provides you with 150% of your recommended daily intake. Raw or steamed — just make sure it’s organic and enjoy!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Real 100% pure extra virgin olive oil is truly a brain food. Thanks to the powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols found in olive oil, your diet may not only improve learning and memory, but also reverse the age- and disease-related changes. Good quality olive oil also helps fight against ADDLs, which are proteins that are toxic to the brain and induce Alzheimer’s. 

In order to reap the health benefits of pure extra-virgin olive oil, you need to consume is uncooked — or cold-pressed; in other words, don’t cook with it, as that destroys the beneficial health elements. Try drizzling good-quality olive oil over your salads, steamed vegetables, or lean, grilled meats. You can also just take a healthy dose right from the bottle each day — high quality, organic EVOO is delicious.

Turmeric

Turmeric, and specifically, it’s active ingredient, curcumin, boosts antioxidant levels and keeps your immune system healthy, while also improving your brain’s oxygen intake, keeping you alert and able to process information. Inflammation in the brain and brain fog are also directly linked, so it’s important to do all you can every day to lower your body’s inflammatory load if you want to keep your brain sharp.

It’s difficult to get enough curcumin from the turmeric spice alone, so we recommend you take a curcumin supplement every day — super important for brain health! 

Worst Foods for Brain Health

Okay, so we spent some time talking about the foods that may help improve our memory and prevent early onset memory loss; but what about the top foods for us to avoid? Are there really specific foods that can harm our brains and contribute to early memory loss? Well, the answer is yes! And here are just a few of the foods we recommend you avoid at all costs:

Red Meat 

Americans love their red meat. In fact, the average American eats over 75 pounds of red meat each year! Red meat is an iron-rich food. And though your body needs enough iron to avoid anemia, chronic fatigue, and muscle weakness, too much iron is very bad — it actually speeds up damage created from too many free radicals being unleashed into the brain and body.

As the iron builds up in the brain, it does so in a specific part of the brain that is known for brain degeneration as we age. Too much iron in that area seems to speed up the process even more.

We recommend avoiding red meat altogether, but if you do choose to eat red meat, eat it only once a week (or month) and only choose the best quality, grass-fed beef  — that is key.

Refined Carbohydrates & Sugars

If you needed another reason to stay away from starchy pasta and breads, here you go:  Diets high in carbohydrates and sugar can raise your risk of early memory loss and eventually lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, a recent study found that people 70 years or older who ate a diet heavy in carbohydrates were almost four times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than their healthier eating counterparts. That spike in Alzheimer’s is far beyond normal age-related issues you’d expect to see in regards to memory and brain health.

Why are refined carbohydrates and sugar so bad for brain health? Because carbohydrates raise glucose and insulin levels rapidly, causing a blood sugar spike. Eventually, that can lead to insulin resistance over time.

The more our bodies ignore insulin, the more our pancreas produces. These high levels of insulin now coursing through the body eventually end up in the brain and actually damage the blood vessels in the brain, leading to issues with memory. In fact, in Alzheimer’s patients, parts of the brain become resistant to insulin — and while researchers aren’t sure exactly why, there seems to be a link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s.  So, really limit your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar.

Additional Tips for Protecting Brain Health

Now that we know what foods to eat and what foods to avoid, we’ll also share some ways for you to lower your risk of early-onset memory loss — and these are not going to be your traditional “Eat vegetables, avoid processed food tips”. These tips will really make a huge difference when it comes to protecting brain health and preventing early memory loss.

Test Your Water For High Copper Levels

You need trace amounts of the heavy metal copper to survive — we know that it's essential for bone, hormonal, and nerve health. But we now know that ingesting too much copper is actually damaging to your brain. Too much copper can trigger the onset of Alzheimer’s and fuel early memory loss. In fact, a recent study found that copper in drinking water at levels 1/10 of the water quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency caused a toxic accumulation of the heavy metal.  While researchers have yet to release a “safe” amount of copper, we recommend you take the worry out of it by either getting your water tested for excess copper, or using high-quality water filters that remove copper before you drink it.

Avoid Over The Counter Drugs That Have Been Linked to Memory Loss and Dementia

Drugs linked to early memory loss and dementia include common over-the-counter allergy and sleep medications, including popular medications like Benadryl, Dramamine, Advil PM, and Unison, among others. These OTC medications are known to have anticholinergic effects, something researchers are increasingly linking to memory loss dementia.

Here's how they study this — they use brain imaging to detect how these anticholinergic drugs impact the brain. By utilizing MRI and PET scan imaging technology, the researchers were able to show how people taking these drugs experienced lower brain metabolism and higher brain atrophy. Participants taking these drugs also tested worse on memory tests. So avoid these drugs!

Sleep in A Brain-Friendly Position 

Believe it or not, when it comes to brain health, and specifically memory, sleep positions matter. Most people — and animals too for that matter — sleep on their sides. Why?  Researchers have discovered that sleeping on your side could actually improve one of the brain’s waste-clearing processes, lowering the risk for early memory loss and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The link between certain types of dementia and sleep are well-established, but a recent study took a closer look at how the way you sleep impacts drainage of harmful substances in the brain. The Journal of Neuroscience study found that the brain’s glymphatic pathway, a complex system that clears wastes and other harmful chemicals from the brain, worked most optimally when people slept on their sides, as opposed to belly or back sleepers.  So, make it simple — sleep on your side and improve your brain’s health!

Avoid Brain-Damaging Pesticides

Conventional foods are loaded with toxins and pesticides. Eating organic foods has been shown to reduce pesticide and toxic buildup in the brain. In fact, studies have shown a dramatic decrease in chemicals stored within the body — specifically the brain — after eating organic for as little as 15 days! 

Most of us have probably been eating a mostly conventional diet for years — probably your entire life, right? If that’s the case, you have been storing harmful chemicals and toxins in your body for years and years. These toxins and chemicals are contributing to serious health issues, most likely resulting from chronic inflammation caused by the excess toxins and chemicals stored throughout your body. Eating organic starts the process of reducing inflammation by eliminating these harmful toxins and chemicals from your body - you’ll notice a difference in just a few weeks. 

Organic fruits and vegetables are also more nutritious than conventionally raised produce. Recent studies provide clear evidence that organic foods are richer in nutrients and antioxidants and lower in heavy metals, especially cadmium, and toxic pesticides. 

The presence of pesticides and heavy metals in our foods is commonly associated with a host of health issues, including specific cancers, asthma, ADHD, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and early memory loss and inflammation in the brain.

These toxins and heavy metals are also known to be endocrine disruptors, or substances that interfere with the normal hormone function and hormone balance. Endocrine disruptors can further contribute to a number of mental issues, including chronic inflammation which contributes to early memory loss.

To avoid further damage to your brain and increasing your risk of early memory loss, avoid pesticide-laced foods at all costs, always buy organic when possible, and when it’s not an option, only eat conventional fruits and vegetables that are on the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 list and always avoid foods that are not labeled “non-gmo”.

Quick Tips to Reverse Memory Loss

Here are a few more quick tips that have been shown to help you reverse memory loss, including:

  • Eat healthy fats that support brain health. These include omega 3 fats found in wild fatty fish, as well as coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
  • Exercise daily. Even a 30-minute walk can help. If you are more active, incorporate high-intensity interval training or weight lifting. Studies show physical activity can prevent and even slow down the progression of cognitive decline and brain diseases like dementia.
  • Supplement with a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, an omega 3 fat supplement, extra B6, B12, and folate, as well as vitamin D3. And, a good probiotic will enhance the brain-gut relationship
  • Learn how to detox from copper, mercury or other heavy metals. I’ll be doing a show on this soon, so look for it. 
  • Reduce Your Stress Levels. Whether that involves deep breathing, exercising, or yoga, find something that helps you calm down. 
  • And last, but not least, get 8 hours of sleep every night. Studies show poor sleep becomes a risk factor for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Aim for at least 8 hours of quality sleep every night.

Wrap-Up 

Today we covered a ton of information to help you prevent early memory and age-related memory loss. Dr. Nancy shared the top foods to help prevent early onset memory loss, including leafy greens, blueberries, strawberries, avocado, extra-virgin olive oil, and turmeric, and the top foods to avoid, including red meats and refined carbohydrates and sugars. She also shared a number of tips you can implement to prevent and even reverse early memory loss, including getting your water tested for copper; avoiding specific over the counter medications that contribute to dementia, sleeping in a “brain-friendly” position, and eating organic foods to avoid pesticides and harmful toxins whenever possible.

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