How to Ward Off Cognitive Decline

Filed Under: Mood & Memory
Last Reviewed 11/16/2015

How to Ward Off Cognitive Decline

Did you know research has found a connection between higher blood sugar levels and cognitive impairment? While taking steps to manage your blood sugar is important, there are other ways you can ward off memory loss—and the sooner you start the better. Here is what I recommend for preventing cognitive decline.

Prevent Cognitive Decline With Regular Exercise

Engaging in mentally-stimulating activities such as crossword puzzles is a fairly well-known method for keeping your memory sharp and helping to prevent cognitive decline. But engaging in regular physical exercise is every bit as important for maintaining cognitive function because it boosts circulation to your brain.

Eat a Healthy, Mediterranean-type Diet to Ward Off Cognitive Decline

Research has shown that eating a healthy, Mediterranean-type diet, particularly in midlife, helps keep you sharp in your later years. Specific foods that protect against cognitive decline and memory loss include fish, mono- and polyunsaturated fats, blueberries, cocoa, green tea, coffee, and alcohol (light-to-moderate—heavy drinking fries your brain).

Stay Sharp With Supplements

A number of neuroprotective vitamins, minerals, and other supplements can increase the odds of keeping your memory intact as you get older. Two of the basic pathological processes underlying neuro-degeneration are oxidative stress and inflammation, which is why everyone should be taking an antioxidant-rich daily multivitamin and an inflammation-quelling omega-3 supplementB-complex vitamins are also crucial for optimal cognitive function. In one study, Finnish researchers found correlations between higher blood levels of vitamin B12/folate and better test scores. A low blood level of vitamin D is another risk factor, and a large Italian study concluded that deficiencies conferred a 60 percent higher risk of cognitive decline in elderly people.

Extra Steps to Consider

Robust cardiovascular health, normal weight and blood sugar, regular exercise, and a good diet and supplement program in your 30s, 40s, and 50s will give you an excellent chance of staying mentally sharp and independent throughout your life. But what if you’re older or have already noticed signs of memory loss or cognitive decline? Then by all means step up your program.

Phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylcholine boost levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter required for memory and learning that is depleted in struggling brains. Acetyl-L-carnitine also promotes acetylcholine synthesis, plus it provides potent antioxidant protection—as do coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid, and melatonin. Curcumin, Ginkgo biloba, and resveratrol also curb inflammation and oxidative stress and have broad neuroprotective effects.

Lastly, check your medicine cabinet. Research has found that regular long-term use of anticholinergic drugs increases risk of dementia, particularly in older individuals.

I hope you’ll take this advice seriously, because you can’t count on conventional medicine’s help. Although the race is on to develop drugs to prevent and improve memory loss, the current crop of medications is a sorry lot, and expectations for a pharmaceutical solution in the near term are low.

Now it’s your turn: Have you ever used any of these brain boosters before?

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DISCLAIMER: The content of is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are "generally informational" and not specifically applicable to any individual's medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

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