This year, approximately 5.2 million Americans are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and this figure is set to increase in coming years as the population ages. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 200,000 people under age of 65 are already experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s.
There are things that you can be doing to bolster your cognitive function, and, in honor of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, the Vital Plan medical team has compiled a list of recommendations to help you keep your memory sharp.
1. STOP “MULTI-TASKING”
Think you can multitask? Think again. According to neuroscientist Earl Miller, a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT, the human brain actually cannot focus on more than one thing at a time.2 Miller says, “What we can do, is shift our focus from one thing to the next with astonishing speed.” Because our brains were designed to focus on one thing at a time, trying to “multi-task” for extended periods of time is not conducive to productivity.
TIP: Make a list of prioritized items and only focus on one at a time.
2. DE-CLUTTER YOUR MIND
Think of your computer on a busy day; you have multiple browser windows open, with three applications running, all the while downloading the latest podcast or episode of your favorite show. How does your computer perform? …right. Get rid of the clutter to free up space for your brain to work with more focus and increased productivity!
TIP: Take 15 minutes at lunch everyday to practice breathing exercises.
3. BALANCE STRESS LEVELS
Stress can also play a role in impairing cognitive health. While the most dangerous threats in life are invisible (think oxidative stress, toxins, and microbes), we are constantly bombarded by other factors at work and home that are still perceived by our brains as harmful, resulting in increased production of stress hormones. Sustained elevations in adrenaline and cortisol levels can lead to poor sleep, a compromised immune system, and impaired brain function.
TIP: Implement these eight ways to cut stress out of your life
4. SKIP THE SWEETS
Although refined sugar is widely available in the American diet, you should be looking to significantly reduce your sugar consumption if you want to keep your mind sharp. According to a psychiatric study from the Radboud University Medical Centre in The Netherlands, sugar suppresses the activity of BDNF, an important growth hormone in the brain. Additional studies have indicated that BDNF levels are especially low in individuals suffering from poor mental health and depression.3
In addition, consuming sugar triggers a number of reactions in your body as it works to normalize blood sugar levels. Regular sugar consumption can lead to chronic inflammation, disrupting your internal system and impairing your cognitive ability.
5. REAP THE BENEFITS OF BACOPA & GINKGO
Bacopa – Long used as an ayurvedic treatment for stress, the herb bacopa came into the spotlight in 2013 when Natural Remedies®, an award-winning natural ingredient research company, released double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials demonstrating the ability of BacoMind® bacopa to significantly improve cognitive function and memory.
The studies show that Bacomind® bacopa has a positive effect on cognitive process such as attention, short term and long term memory components. It also is shown to improve the long term component of verbal memory in elderly individuals. Vital Plan is pleased to be the first company in the United States to offer BacoMind® with our cognitive support supplement, Brain Boost.
Ginkgo Biloba – Benefits of ginkgo biloba include increased blood flow to the brain (in addition to other vital organs), protection of nerve tissues, and increased brain wave activity. Clinical studies have also demonstrated enhanced mood and improved cognitive function.
A therapeutic, standardized dose of ginkgo biloba can be found in Brain Boost, an herbal supplement for memory protection.