Is it possible to avoid memory loss with aging? Most of us experience a bit of trouble remembering things as we get older – a condition commonly called age-related memory loss. However, a lot of medical evidence out there shows that just how badly we're affected is largely dependent on how well we take care of ourselves – and our brains – as we age.
That means memory doesn't have to be a casualty of aging if we take steps to protect it. Here are some tips that can help you keep yours sharp.
- Keep Life Interesting. Variety, they say, is the spice of life, and making sure that you have plenty of it in your day-to-day life can help avoid memory loss. To stay healthy and sharp, your brain needs to be challenged, and doing the same old things day in and day out doesn't give it the exercise it needs. Trying new things means learning new skills – challenging your brain and making it stronger. So don't get stuck in a rut. Learn a new language, play a new game, try new recipes, travel and socialize, whatever works to stimulate your brain.
- Get Aerobic Exercise Regularly. Aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, dance or most anything else that gets your heart pumping faster, has been shown in study after study to delay mental aging, including age-related memory loss. How does exercising your body help your brain? It increases blood flow, stimulates production of new brain cells and better health in existing ones, and reduces the loss of brain volume that occurs with aging. Of course, it also helps keep conditions like insulin resistance, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure at bay, all of which contribute to age-related cognitive decline.
- Mind Your Diet. If your goal is to avoid memory loss, eating well is an essential step towards achieving it. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidant content helps keep your brain healthy, and variety is key here as well to ensure a good mix of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Protein and amino acids are essential to brain health, so be sure you're getting enough lean meat, beans, nuts and low-fat dairy. Give processed grains a miss – like white flour and rice – in favor of more nourishing and blood-sugar friendly whole grains. Substitute sweet potatoes for those white spuds a couple of times a week – they're full of brain-healthy nutrients – and be sure to eat fish a couple of times a week for those brain-boosting omega 3 essential fatty acids.
Other things that can help you keep your mind sharp and avoid memory loss are getting plenty of sleep – your brain repairs daily damage while you're snoozing – and learning to manage stress, which takes a slow, steady toll on cognitive health. Seeing your doctor regularly can also help, ensuring that any potential health issues are caught and treated early, keeping your body and brain in great shape.