Is your brain is in constant overload with too many things to do and remember? Does it feel like your memory is only getting worse as you get older?
Well don’t worry, as there are some small steps you can take to look after your brain health as you age. Here, nutritionist Sarah Flower from TIANA Fairtrade Organics, reveals six ways to improve your memory and cognitive health today.
Memory tip 1: Insist on good sleep
“When we were young, we could burn the candle at both ends and still be bright and perky the following day. As we age, sleep is not only essential for general wellbeing, but is also something we actively crave,” explains Sarah.
“It’s crucial for good health - it’s a time when our body resets, rebalances and repairs. It balances hormones such as the stress hormone cortisol; it regulates our blood sugars making us less likely to crave food and overeat.
"We also know that long-term sleep deprivation can cause irreparable damage to brain cells, not to mention low mood, so it is important to ensure you get at least eight hours of sleep to ensure you experience a full sleep cycle,” says Sarah.
Memory tip 2: Make time for 'me time'
“Taking 5-20 minutes out per day for some me time doesn’t sound very much, but it can have huge health benefits, including improving brain health, combating depression and anxiety, reducing stress, increasing your sense of wellbeing, helping you concentrate and cope better with workload and pressure,” says Sarah.
Memory tip 3: Keep active
“We know exercise is good for a healthy heart, bone density and maintaining a healthy weight, but did you know being physically active regularly as you age can also help to keep your brain in peak condition, too? Studies show that working out can actually increase our cognitive function,” says Sarah.
Memory tip 4: Eat well
“A diet rich in nutrients sounds simple, but as our Western diet is highly processed, it is quite easy to become low or deficient in key nutrients,” says Sarah.
“Nutrients can also be depleted when we drink a lot of alcohol or caffeine, they are displaced by some medications such as antibiotics, antacids and the Pill, and can also be affected by our age and ill health.
“Cooking, such as boiling vegetables, can cause nutrients to leach out. Steaming or stir-frying has less detrimental impact on the mineral and nutrient content of the food,” she says.
Memory tip 5: Limit sugar and alcohol intake
“Increased blood sugars, typically found in those with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, can reduce brain health, and is also associated with low mood and depression,” explains Sarah.
“A recent study found those with higher sugar in their diet had lower total brain volumes and poorer memories, compared with those on a low sugar diet.”
Sarah says some experts are even now calling Alzheimer’s ‘Type 3 diabetes’ due to its possible links to insulin resistance - where the neurons in the brain stop responding to insulin, affecting our memory and learning abilities.
And we know it’s an unpopular suggestion, but drinking alcohol regularly can impact your memory and brain health.
"Long-term, frequent boozing can damage the hippocampus, the area in the brain involved in the formation of our memory. Cutting back and introducing some drink-free days every week can help avoid this happening,” says Sarah.
Memory tip 6: Take a supplement
“I use TIANA Advanced Formula Memory Oil, which contains natural brain-boosting bioactive ingredients (and a special ingredient called Memory Activation Complex) to activate memory and maintain cognitive ability,” says Sarah. “It also has Omega-3 DHA in it, including choline - a vital ingredient in memory improvement and to support vegan diets.
"For an energy boost, I also use TIANA High Strength 100% MCT Energy.” These contain 100 percent pure MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides), which are good for reducing cholesterol, while supporting muscle mass and strength.