A common complaint I get is “My memory is shot” or “The words are on the tip of my tongue, but they just won’t come.” For all the capabilities your brain has, it can sure be stupid sometimes. So, today I’d like to talk about how to have OPTIMAL COGNITIVE FUNCTIONING (in no particular order):
Minimize alcohol intake. I know, I know. Where’s the fun in that? And yet, it’s still true. Heavy alcohol use causes your liver to release enzymes that make your brain cloudy. It’s called Hepatic Encephalopathy. Good times.
Cardio-aerobic exercise. Regular and rapid blood flow to the brain = improved focus and concentration.
Exercise your brain with games. Two Dots. Crossword puzzles. Sudoku. The Lumosity app. These are all brain re-wiring disguised as fun.
Detox your surroundings. Eliminate harmful chemicals in your environment (for more on this see my post here).
Give your day structure. It’s harder to forget things and get distracted when you develop a routine of doing the same thing every day.
Say things out loud, write them down, and explain them to others. This improves memory and recall. In fact, this blog post is selfish in this way: by processing these items out loud, digitally writing them down, and teaching them to you, I am able to remember them better for myself.
Get enough sleep. It’s rejuvenating and restoring. Like a high-end shampoo or something. Your brain is cleansed the most when you sleep at night. Toxins get flushed out. Short-term memories become long-term memories (you can get sleep hygiene tips here)
Stick to a gluten-free, sugar-free diet. I know, nutrition is a dirge sometimes (you can read more about that here). But gluten and sugar are inflammatory agents. This inflammation spreads throughout your body via your bloodstream; this includes those fragile blood vessels in your brain.
Mindfulness and Meditation. Why? This leads to decreased stress. Chronic stress is death to your brain and your spirit (you can read more about being mindful here)
Learn new things. Take a photography class. Learn to quilt. Perhaps piano lessons. (spoiler alert: learning new things are supposed to be hard). Sadly, I see many people who decline in cognitive function quite rapidly when they retire. When they no longer have the structure of a workday and tasks to occupy their brain waves, their brain gets kind of mushy.
Keep isolation at bay. Stay in community with others. Do sharp, witty people draw in many friends because they are witty? Or are they witty because they have many friends? I’m inclined to believe the latter.
Fish oil. It’s anti-inflammatory, and cushions the healthy fat surrounding your brain.
Phosphatidyl-serine. It’s the new generation of your grandmother’s Ginkgo Biloba.
L-tyrosine. This one works great with the 2 above. Makes me personally a little jittery, like I’ve had too much coffee. But still worth a try.
N-acetylcysteine and B12.
FOCUS for Adults by Solaray. (it’s comes in a children’s formulation too!)
Lithium Aspartate. Baby doses of Lithium will spark neurogenesis, a/k/a the birth of new baby brain cells. Taking 5mg daily is all you need (you can read more about neurogenesis here).
Hopefully this is helpful, friends. As always please let me know if you have any questions!!
DISCLAIMER: Thanks for reading the above, but whoever you are: unless you are living in my household (which I think I would have noticed), it’s very unlikely that I have any idea what sort of medical history, medication regimen, allergies, and any other health intricacies you carry. Therefore, you should NOT interpret the above as medical advice for yourself, and instead present this information to your personal clinician for consideration.
Another DISCLAIMER: Obviously, the best way to get the best nutrition is through FOOD, not supplements. But for those of us who are still getting the hang of this work-life balance thing, supplements are a way to stay sane when you don’t have time & dinero for meal-planning & organics. Don’t beat yourself up.