Want To Improve Your Memory? Forget Pills! Eat Better!
Sarah OrdoverJan 20th, 2022
Diet supplements and pills like Prevagen advertise heavily purporting to help seniors maintain cognitive health. But unfortunately, there is no pill or memory supplement that cures mental decline. However, researchers across the world have discovered that it may be possible to prevent or delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline through nutrition. Dietary patterns can accelerate or reduce the likelihood of memory loss.
Recently, I was fortunate to listen to a seminar by Brian Browne, president of Dementia Care Education and a research consultant to the Cleveland Clinic. The title of the seminar was “Nutrition: The Science of Preventing Disease.”
According to Browne, there are both medical conditions and hormonal changes that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory impairment. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and obesity inhibit brain performance and deprive the brain of the nutrients needed to work properly.
Cortisol, more commonly known as the “stress hormone,” is produced in times of physical and mental stress. While this response is quite normal, if cortisol remains elevated for extended periods of time, it can become toxic to the nerve cells in the brain. Chronic exposure to elevated levels of cortisol contributes to age-related cognitive decline.
Women are at 60% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than men. Estrogen is one major hormone that can impact memory before or during menopause. It has a role in regulating a variety of brain chemicals, along with functions of the nervous system. The result can be occasional lapses in brain function, resulting in short-term memory issues. This decrease in estrogen can also lead to anxiety, depression, hot flashes, and sleep disturbances, conditions that may contribute to memory problems.
New research from UCLA shows that too much of the sugar known as high fructose corn syrup can impact cognitive capability. The study shows that consuming high fructose corn syrup affects memory and actually slows down learning.
According to UCLA, “animal models of dementia suggest that excess consumption of fructose contained in refined sugars like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) can promote dementia pathogenesis through increased central neuronal insulin resistance and deposition of beta amyloid.
There also have been studies that show fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, blueberries, oranges and peppers, owe their bright colors to plant chemicals known as flavonoids. These foods have powerful antioxidant properties which has raised hopes that they could reduce oxidative stress in the brain.
While there are treatments for temporarily alleviating the symptoms of dementia, there is currently no cure available. The search is on to identify lifestyle factors, such as diet, that can reduce individuals’ risk of developing the condition. No memory supplements like Prevagen can alleviate cognitive decline. Diet, combined with exercise and mental stimulation continue to be the best medicine to keep the brain young and healthy.
Assisted Living Locators Los Angeles owner Sarah Ordover is one of LA’s top senior living advisors. Certified in dementia care, Sarah is a trained aging specialist who holds an RCFE assisted living administrators license. Sarah thoughtfully guides families through the senior living decision-making process, helping them find the best solution for their loved ones. Call Sarah at 310-853-8282 for a consultation. Assisted Living Locators is a no-cost service to clients.