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5 Reasons You are Losing Your Memory

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Memory loss is a sign of aging, but it may be possible to avoid developing memory problems as we age. New studies suggest that diet and lifestyle plays a large role in the deterioration and restoration of cognitive health. Find out what you are doing to damage your memory and how to reverse cognitive decline below!

Forgetfulness and memory decline are just a simple part of aging, right?

According to many health professionals, memory lapses are normal starting as early as middle age. However, "normal" memory lapses and deterioration may not be normal at all.

In fact, these early memory faults could indicate a potentially increased risk for developing serious memory problems later on. The best thing about the brain is that it has the ability to recover and regenerate, which is something you may not realize. The idea that brain cells, once dead; do not come back, is now a proven myth.

Take a look at the studies outlined below showing how you can prevent memory loss as you age and the biggest risk factors for cognitive decline.

Is it Possible to Prevent Memory Loss?

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia in 2014 found that one area of the brain does not deteriorate with age at all. These systems are located in the right cerebral hemisphere, and regulate spatial attention and a few other brain functions. Study author Dr. Joanna Brooks said, "Our studies have found that older and younger adults perform in a similar way on a range of visual and non-visual tasks that measure spatial attention."

The study authors did not know why this area of the brain was protected while others were not, but the study authors did believe that these findings may lead to further studies that can help understand what causes degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, to form.

In fact, there are already clear links between lifestyle and the function of the memory as we age. Read on to see how you can protect your brain from memory loss and keep the brain young.

Triggers for Cognitive Decline

According to research, there are a variety of triggers that are linked with the deterioration of a person’s memory and cognitive function. Avoiding these triggers may help prevent memory decline today and in the future. Take a look at some of the surprising links between cognitive health and other physical symptoms:


According to some studies, stress is an indicator in a person’s mental health. A study from the University of Iowa in 2014 tested animals under varying amounts of stress. The study found that animals with the highest levels of the stress hormone cortisol was linked with the gradual loss of synapses in the prefrontal cortex, which is the region of the brain that controls short-term memory. Long-term exposure to cortisol was found to shrink and reduce the number of connections that helped the animals store, process, and recall information. The study authors believe that a similar response can occur in humans as we age.

Stress, is healthy and normal in small doses, but when a person lives a life of constant stress, adverse health effects can occur. Some of the easiest ways to relieve stress and keep stress levels low are listed below:

Stress-Relieving Techniques 
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep
  • Practice meditation or yoga
  • Have periods of conscious relaxation


It should come as no surprise that exercise is good for brain health, as it is linked with benefits in all areas of the body. Exercise can reduce stress, promote healthy hormone production, improve the mood, and help you feel better overall.

In early 2014, another study conducted by the University of Minnesota supported the idea that exercise can protect your memory. The study authors examined nearly 3,000 men and women for 25 years, first when they were young adults and then later when they were middle-aged. The researchers found that the young adults who exercised more and had greater cardiorespiratory fitness scored better on cognitive tests 25 years later. They also scored better on reaction tests and mental agility tests during middle-age.

Exercising at least a few times a week has been proven to increase a person’s health on many levels, and according to this study, may help fight off mental decline as we age. In fact, according to studies, exercising regularly not only slows cognitive decline, it may also help your brain grow.

A study from 2012 found that older adults who show no signs of cognitive decline between the ages of 60 and 80 had a 2 percent increase in growth in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex after exercising 30 minutes three days a week for a year. These two areas of the brain are associated with the memory areas of the brain.

Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep can lead to a wide range of problems, one of which is memory loss. According to studies, poor sleep can lead to a loss of brain volume and may be a trigger for the accelerated onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

A 2014 study published in the Neurobiology of Aging studied the effect of sleep deprivation on the developing of the Alzheimer’s phenotype in mice. The researchers restricted the sleep of the mice to just four hours a day for 8 weeks, which is the equivalent of several years in humans. Compared with the mice who were allowed to sleep normally, the sleep deprived mice had a decline in both learning and memory.

The study researchers found that a lack of sleep acts as a constant stressor on the body, modulating biochemical processes influences that lead to the development of memory impairments and cognitive diseases. The study authors suggested that giving patients who are at-risk for Alzheimer’s Disease more sleep could help prevent or slow the progression of the disease.

Catching up on sleep on the weekends may not be enough to reverse the cycle of stress that a lack of sleep plays in the brain. This is why it is vital to get as much healthy sleep as possible in a consistent routine. For most people, establishing a set bedtime and creating nightly rituals to promote sleep can help create healthy sleep habits. Distractions in the bedroom, such as television and other electronics not only encourage staying up longer, but the blue light they emit also triggers the brain into an alert state, which will prevent you from feeling as tired come bedtime.

Unhealthy Weight

According to a 2011 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, obesity is associated with cognitive decline because a higher amount of fat in the body increases a person’s levels of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. Cytokines are highly damaging to brain function and can even lead to insulin resistance, which can lead to the development of diabetes.

A follow-up study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2014 found that the body may react to excess fat as if it is an invader, which keeps cytokine levels high. This leads to chronic inflammation and stress in the body, which has a direct influence on cognitive health.


Sugar is not damaging to the brain or body in small amounts, but the amount of processed sugar that most Americans eat today is highly damaging to the body. Some studies indicate that foods that you eat can play a huge role in your cognitive health. Some memory experts believe that the constant burning of glucose for fuel in the brain may lead to the development of cognitive diseases. Several studies have linked high glucose levels in the brain of diabetic individuals with a faster rate of cognitive decline.

However, a study published in Neurology in 2013 found that the same decline was seen in individuals without diabetes as well. According to the study researchers, “chronically higher blood glucose levels exert a negative influence on cognition.” The study authors concluded that lowering brain glucose levels may be an easy method to improve the rate of cognition in elderly individuals.

Although many foods turn to glucose in the body, consuming high levels of fructose can contribute to higher levels of glucose in the brain. Cutting back on fructose consumption can benefit not only your weight and mood, but also your cognitive function and memory.

Positive Actions that Encourage Strong Cognitive Function

While the above issues lead to faster cognitive decline and reversing them can lead to a healthier brain, there are also a variety of other healthy habits you can introduce to benefit the memory. These habits will not only protect your brain as you age, but will also benefit your overall health in multiple ways. Like most healthy habits, they benefit the entire body- not just one area.

Consume More Vegetables

Did you know that simply eating more vegetables may help you ward off cognitive diseases? Some studies have indicated that free radicals can damage the brain’s ability to function properly and may adversely affect memory and cognitive processing.

In 2014, a study published in BMC Neurology examined individuals with Parkinson’s disease and found that individuals with higher free radical levels also had greater cognitive decline. The best way to prevent high levels of free radicals in the body is to eat vegetables containing a variety of phytochemicals and cofactors, as these provide the highest level of antioxidants.

All vegetables have some antioxidant power, and so do most fruits, but in some cases, fruits may have too high levels of fructose to provide as much cognitive benefit as vegetables. Look for the freshest vegetables possible, as wilted veggies have reduced nutritional content.

The Best Vegetables for Brain Health


  • Dark leafy greens
  • Bright colored vegetables
  • In-season vegetables
  • Stalk vegetables, like broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower
  • Root vegetables like carrots, onions, and potatoes


Eat Brain Boosting Fats

Did you know that eating a low-fat diet may be harming your brain? According to research, your brain can process either sugar or carbohydrates for fuel or fat. When your body converts fat into energy, it creates Ketones rather than glucose. Your body can run on glucose, but according to some research, the brain thrives on Ketone fuel.

According to a 2011 analysis published in Psychology today, the right balance of keytones in the brain leads to, “a lower seizure risk and a better environment for neuronal recovery and repair.” One fat that has a high level of MCT-keytones is coconut oil. About two tablespoons of coconut oil a day can provide enough keytones to support healthy brain function and repair.

According to research, the body views MCT fats as carbohydrates and metabolizes them quickly, but since it is isn’t a source of glucose, there are no insulin spikes in the blood. Experts recommend taking coconut oil with food, or cooking with it, as coconut oil taken alone can upset the stomach. Another fat linked with better cognitive health is omega-3 fat.

A 2013 study published in Neurology examined over 2,000 healthy elderly women over a period of 5 years. The researchers found that women who had the highest levels of omega-3 fats in their diet had less brain atrophy throughout the period of the study.

Other studies have indicated that a higher intake of DHA omega-3 fat is a "robust modulator of functional cortical activity."

Eat Brain-Boosting Nutrients

There are a variety of brain-boosting nutrients that have been linked with healthier brain function and reduced cognitive decline. These nutrients come from food sources and from a variety of herbs and supplements. Helpful brain nutrients include:

Memory-Boosting Nutrients

Challenge the Brain

Use it or lose it is actually sound advice for maintaining healthy cognitive function. Learning something new is particularly effective at protecting memory and cognitive health.

In one study from 2013, study researchers found that individuals who played complex real-time strategy games performed better on cognitive tests, and elderly individuals who played the video games for several weeks performed better on cognitive tests after the study period.

You don’t have to play video games to keep Alzheimer’s at bay. Other activities that have a positive result include learning a new language, learning a new activity, and keeping active with mentally-challenging activities like word games or math games.

Is Cognitive Decline a Normal Part of Aging?

In some cases, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disease may be the result of factors outside your control, such as family history. However, there are many health habits linked to both the development and prevention of these common mental diseases. A person who is not at an abnormally high-risk for developing rapid mental decline may be able to prevent it from occurring, or prevent the fast progression of the disease by employing the steps outlined above.





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