Ways to keep your mind sharp

Ever forget where you're parked? Can't remember what you need to pick up from the grocery store?

Little memory lapses can be frustrating and they can get much worse as we age. For some, they can turn into big problems like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

There are simple things you can do right now to reduce your risk.

It's the 2012 USA Memory Championship. Memory athletes rack their brains trying to memorize pages of names and faces, a shuffled deck of cards and random numbers.

Defending Champion Nelson Dellis breaks his own US Record by memorizing 303 digits in five minutes. The 27-year old believes it'll be beneficial when his memory starts to go. New research shows at just 45 years old, our brain power can start declining. Neurologist Paul Schulz isn't surprised by the findings.

Paul Schulz, MD, Associate Professor Director of the Memory Disorders and Dementia Clinic, and Vice Chair of Neurology UT Health, describes when the human brains memory peaks, "Starting at around the age of 20, people's memory and attention span peaks."

He says by age 80, normal people have lost 40-percent of their memory. There are things you can do to fight cognitive problems. First, focus on focusing.

Play word games or Sudoku. Learn a new language. Read books and magazines and discuss them with others, and don't forget to feed your brain. A recent study finds college students who ate two ounces of walnuts daily improved reasoning skills and new research shows these berries' antioxidants can keep your memory sharp.

Meanwhile, studies are mixed on the brain boosting abilities of the Omega-3 Fatty Acid. DHA found in fish like salmon.

Dellis discusses how he eats walnuts and other nutrients, "I take those religiously."

Nelson took DHA before the competition. He also ate salmon and blueberries. A few things that may have helped him win this. The win was his second Memory Championship in two years. A memory he'll never forget.

Nelson also did some push-ups before the memory championship. Doctor Schulz says physical exercise helps boost brain power across the board. He says all it takes is 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise four times a week.

Meanwhile, Nelson's planning to climb Mount Everest for a second time in 2013 to raise awareness and money for Alzheimer’s.


REPORT: MB # 3451

BACKGROUND: A recent study shows our brain power can start declining by age 45. One doctor tells us, by age 80 a normal person has lost 40-percent of their memory. But, from your hobbies to keeping your heart healthy, there are many ways to boost your brain power!

CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE: According to Daniel Amen, M.D., author of Magnificent Mind at Any Age, switching the hand you brush your teeth with, or even jogging backwards help you deviate from daily patterns. "In so doing, you'll stimulate new parts of your brain, encouraging it to make new connections," Dr. Amen was quoted saying. (Source: www.menshealth.com)

USE IT OR LOSE IT: Playing word games like Sudoku, doing a crossword puzzle, or even playing brain games on your gadgets can help keep your mind sharp. Paul Schulz, MD, Director of the Memory Disorders and Dementia Clinic, and Vice Chair of Neurology UTHealth and the Mischer Neuroscience Institute of Memorial Hermann Hospital says focusing on focusing can improve attention span, which in turn, can help with memory problems.

QUENCH YOUR BRAIN'S THIRST: Your brain is 80 percent water, and if it's not hydrated, your neurons can't perform properly," Dr. Amen was quoted saying. Drink eight six-ounce glasses of water a day and avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine.
(Source: www.menshealth.com)

STAY HEART HEALTHY: Dr. Paul Schulz says while it's just been discovered in the last few years, vascular problems that put you at risk of stroke and heart attack can also put you at risk for dementia and Alzheimer's. He says controlling cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure is very important. Schulz says if they get out of control, "All of those things individually have about a doubling of the risk of getting cognitive impairment later on." He adds smoking increases your risk of Alzheimer's by two and a half times!

DHA DEBATE: Does the omega-3 fatty acid help boost brain power? The MIDAS Study (Memory Improvement with Docosahexaenoic Acid Study), reported in The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association finds that healthy adults = 55 years of age taking 900 mg algal docosahexaenoic acid/day (DHA) for six months demonstrated enhanced memory and learning skills compared to those taking a placebo. On the other hand, an 18 month double blind study of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease reported in JAMA concludes: "Supplementation with DHA compared with placebo did not slow the rate of cognitive and functional decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease."
(Sources: jama.ama-assn.org and www.brainstrongdha.com)


Gloria Galvan
Executive Assistant

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