Brain Boosters: You Don't Need Brain Training Programs or Expensive Dietary Supplements to Improve Your Cognitive Health
By: Marta Jimenez, M.D., Neurology
It can be frustrating to misplace your car keys or forget the name of an old college friend. But it’s not just memory loss we contend with as we age. Our brains tend to slow down in our later years, making it harder to concentrate and retain new information.
Mind Over Matter
Here are three things around your house that you can use to boost your brain health:
- A pair of walking shoes. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that people who walked at least 72 blocks — or about six miles — per week had more gray matter in their brains in older adulthood. Having more gray matter is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment.
- A bed. A 2010 Harvard University study suggests dreaming plays a critical role in memory. Participants tried to learn the layout of a complex maze, with some allowed to sleep afterward. The ones who dreamt about the maze were better able to navigate the maze upon waking. Lack of sleep is also known to impair mental focus and performance.
- A listening ear. A study in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Experimental Psychology found that people who verbalize information they read are better at remembering it than those who simply read it. After reading an interesting article or news piece, chat about it with your spouse or a friend, making an effort to recall specific facts, figures and names.
Dementia isn’t the only cause of excessive memory loss. Other health-related factors that can affect memory include:
- Medications – Certain types of prescription drugs often list memory loss as a side effect, including benzodiazepines (antianxiety drugs), statins, antidepressants, narcotic painkillers, drugs for hypertension and sleeping aids.
- Depression – Forgetfulness is a common symptom of depression and other mood and anxiety disorders.
- Poor diet – Eating unhealthy foods, can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can impact cognitive health.
- Lack of blood supply to the brain – This can cause vascular dementia, a form of dementia that may be brought on by small, self-resolving strokes or changes in blood flow. Smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol raise your risk for these vascular issues.
About Marta Jimenez, M.D., Neurology
Dr. Marta Jimenez is a member of the medical staff at Pottstown Hospital, department of internal medicine - neurology. She is a graduate of the Universidad Central delEste, the Dominican Republic. An internal medicine internship was completed at Lankenau Hospital. Both a neurology residency and a stroke and critical care fellowship were completed at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Dr. Jimenez is in practice with Tri-County Neurology located at Pottstown Hospital, 1600 E. High Street, Suite 100, Pottstown.