June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Though many of us assume that memory loss is an inevitable part of aging, research has revealed several strategies for slowing that process. Here are 3 tips to help prevent memory loss and preserve brain health.
Scientists have settled on a couple of theories for why people develop Alzheimer’s disease. Some believe that a buildup of protein “clumps” called beta-amyloid interfere with nerve connections or synapses in the brain.
More recently, researchers at UCLA have proposed that the disease results from an imbalance between synapse-making and synapse-destroying activity. These experts recommend incorporating more synapse-boosting activities into our daily routine to help stop—and even reverse—the condition.
We all have moments of forgetfulness and this happens more frequently as we get older. While severe memory loss can be a sign of Alzheimer’s, mild forgetfulness is more often age-related. Regardless of the cause, here are 3 proven tips to help prevent memory loss and to protect your brain.
3 Tips to Help Prevent Memory Loss
1. Adjust Your Eating Schedule to Help Prevent Memory Loss
Try to stop eating three hours before bed. This stimulates a process called autophagy, the body’s way of “cleaning up” old, damaged cells like beta-amyloid. It also allows for the production of ketones, which help protect neurons in the brain.
Activation of autophagy is one of the proposed mechanisms by which olive oil consumption is thought to protect brain health and prevent memory loss.
2. Cut the Carbs to Help Prevent Memory Loss
Foods made with white flour and refined sugars increase levels of inflammation and insulin, both of which destroy synapses in the brain, increasing the risk of memory loss. Scientists are now referring to Alzheimer’s disease as Type 3 diabetes due to its strong link to insulin resistance.
Diets too high in sugar and other carbohydrates trigger a cascade of events that lead to the damage of brain cells. High-fat, ketogenic diets, on the other hand, are associated with protection against memory loss and cognitive impairment.
3. Pick Up a Hobby to Help Prevent Memory Loss
Make it something you can commit to doing daily for at least 20 minutes. Examples: walking, yoga, meditation, sauna, music, writing in a diary. Any stress-busting activity will be beneficial.
Stress destroys neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory creation. Stress also raises levels of the synapse-destroying hormone cortisol and triggers production of a hormone (corticotropin-releasing factor or CRF) linked to Alzheimer’s.
According to a Mayo Clinic study, older adults who participate in artistic hobbies like painting, drawing, and sculpting are 73 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than those who don’t, while craft activities including woodworking, pottery, ceramics, and sewing reduce the risk by 45 percent.
Rates of Alzheimer’s disease are far lower in people who have maintained the eating patterns of their ancestors. Such diets are rich in nutrients known to protect the brain and prevent memory loss. Longevity experts have observed other common themes among the longest-living populations throughout the world. These include daily movement, social connectedness, and activities that stimulate the brain.
While these science-backed tips may not prevent Alzheimer’s, the mechanisms involved in the development of that disease are similar to those involved in memory loss. Given the safety and relative simplicity of the brain health tips above, there’s little downside to incorporating them more regularly. Doing so may not only prevent memory loss, but can simultaneously improve mood and overall mental well-being.