Forgetting your car keys on a regular basis? Can't remember if you put the kettle on? We're all forgetful at some time or another, but are these common memory blips or is it something to worry about? We take a look at the early signs of Alzheimer's and the steps that can be taken on a daily basis to prevent the disease and nourish your brain… PLUS: if you just want to improve your memory, we have some amazing lifestyle tips!
The early signs
These are signs that may appear in the very early stages of the disease or may indicate that memory function is getting weak.
If you have more than 5 signs, speak to your doctor or investigate natural memory boosters…
1. Forgetting recently learned information. If you remember it later on, that's just common ageing, but if you cannot recall it at all, it may be a sign.
2. Problems following a familiar recipe, working with numbers or money. If you occasionally struggle to balance a budget, that's ok.
3. Trouble completing familiar tasks such as driving to a location, rules of a game etc. If it's a routine you used to manage well, but now cannot remember, it should be noted.
4. Confusion with time or place. Not being able to remember the day of the week. If you figure it out later, it's common ageing.
5. Trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships. Having trouble seeing colours or contrast, judging distance and difficulty reading should be investigated.
6. Struggling with words, speaking or writing. You may find you stop in the middle of the conversation with no idea how to continue. You might also struggle to find the right word, e.g. calling the stove the "hot box" because you cannot get to the word in time. It's common though to sometimes struggle to find the right word to describe something accurately.
7. Misplacing things and unable to retrace steps. You may regularly forget where you hid something, or think it was stolen. If you are able to retrace steps, it's common ageing.
8. Decreased judgement. You may find that you make poor decisions more frequently, particularly with money. Making a bad decision once in a while is still ok.
9. Withdrawal from social activities. If you feel like you are isolating yourself because of the changes in your memory you may need extra support. If you sometimes feel weary of work or social activities, that's normal.
10. Changes in mood or personality. If you feel out of your comfort zone regularly, if you feel anxious, angry or irritable a lot, you may need to investigate. If you get grumpy when your routine is disrupted, this is common ageing.
B vitamins: what the research says… B wise!
New research suggests that when it comes to Alzheimer's, Vitamin B has the potential to markedly reduce the likelihood of this disease…
A study out of the university of Oxford showed reduced brain shrinkage in the area associated with Alzheimer's by 90 percent! In Alzheimer's patients the area of the brain responsible for cognitive function, memory and judgement quite literally shrinks in size. This happens because of an amino acid called Homocysteine. Vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 seem to be the superheroes of the story and come to the rescue by reducing Homocysteine levels! While research is ongoing, this really opens up a whole lot of possibilities for the average person to reduce the likelihood of the disease before it occurs! So if you want these vitamin super-powers, eat high-protein foods such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy. Some leafy, green vegetables, beans and peas are also high in B vitamins.
Modern manufacturing and farming methods sometimes reduce the nutritional content of food. To make sure you are getting all the Vitamin B you need, you may also want to supplement with a reputable Vit B6 and Vit B12 supplement (come and see our ranges at the Feelgood Health shop, Unit 6, Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake Business Park, Cape Town. 021 797 0193)!
10 EASY TIPS and lifestyle changes from studies!
1. A Japanese study found that consuming fruit and vegetable juices lead to a decrease in Alzheimer's occurrence over a 7-9 year follow up!
2. Berries contain anthocyanosides, which fight memory impairment associated with free radicals (oxidisation of cells) and beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, so eat them every day!
3. The Framingham study monitored people with high levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from eating fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna. They had lower rates of Alzheimer's over nine years of follow-up.
4. Eat foods high in folate because it lessens levels of homocysteine (associated with poor cognitive function). Choose Avo, Liver, Sunflower seeds, Spinach, Asparagus.
5. In moderation, drink a glass of red wine at night (or even unsweetened purple grape juice), this is because the components found in in grape skins protect brain cells from the toxic effect of oxidative stress (free-radical damage) and beta amyloid.
6. Two studies of different populations found that people who were most adherent to the Mediterranean style diet had a lower incidence of Alzheimer's, compared with those who did not follow this diet!
7. Lower your blood pressure - high blood pressure seems to be associated with an increased risk of both vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
8. Findings suggest that close interaction with friends and family plays a role in the prevalence of alzheimer's onset later on in life, so keep your relationships in tact and thriving!
9. Stress can play a big part in forgetfulness and memory loss. Depression and anxiety also cause memory and concentration problems. If you are stressed, depressed or overly anxious, take steps to reduce your stress levels by taking up yoga, dancing or other exercise, meditation or simply go for a walk every day. See below for our natural remedies for stress and depression.
10. Research has shown that certain herbs can help to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's and can also assist with common age related memory loss. If you find yourself becoming more forgetful with age, you can improve brain functioning and boost your memory - see below for our brain boosting herbal remedies and tonics!