Dear Health-conscious Friend,
Five Simple Tricks to Keep Your Brain Sharp
America is graying. The Census Bureau says the number of Americans aged 65 to 84 will jump almost 40% from 2010 to 2020. For a lot of those people, confusion, forgetfulness and brain fog will become a fact of life.
Over the years, I’ve seen thousands of patients concerned about losing their mental edge. So I’m always on the lookout for simple steps they can take to help keep their minds and memories sharp.
Today, I’ll share five confirmed by recent studies…
#1 – Eat Fish. Long ago, we learned that fish really is brain food. But a new study from the University of Pittsburgh takes the proof even further.
The researchers looked at brain volumes of 260 healthy adults using MRI scans. They also looked at the same people’s MRI scans from more than 20 years ago. Those who ate baked or broiled fish once a week, kept more brain volume in areas linked to memory and cognition.1
In this case, the Omega-3 content of the fish didn’t matter. If they ate baked or broiled fish once a week, folks simply had more brain to work within these key areas.
#2 – Enjoy a Cup of Joe. Or a nice cup of tea. But make sure it’s “high test.”
A team led by scientists from Johns Hopkins University tested volunteers’ long-term memories after giving them caffeine. They discovered that caffeine enhanced memory consolidation for about 24 hours.2
So if you enjoy a morning cup of coffee – or an afternoon tea break – don’t feel guilty about the caffeine. It’s helping keep you sharp.
#3 – Lose the Road Muscle. Your body carries fat in two ways. Subcutaneous fat is a layer of fat under your skin. Visceral fat is fat that settles around your internal organs – belly fat.
Belly fat is a lot more than unattractive. It’s a red flag for brain fog. When German scientists measured belly fat and brain volume in middle-aged adults, the results were shocking. Belly fat was clearly linked to smaller brain volumes.3
Trimming down your waistline can be a challenge. Fortunately, our 4th secret can help you get rid of this problem…
#4 – Take a (Brisk) Hike. Researchers from Canada and the Netherlands have already shown that resistance training and aerobic exercise both improve memory. Now they’ve taken their research a step further.
They’ve now shown aerobic training boosts brain volume in the area of the brain most strongly linked to memory. And this was in women aged 70 – 80 years… so age doesn’t appear to be an issue.4
And since aerobic training also helps burn belly fat, this trick can boost your brain power two ways.
#5 – Get Some Sun. Exposure to the sun is your #1 source of vitamin D. If you’re light-skinned you need about 10 – 20 minutes of summer sun exposure to make a day’s worth of vitamin D. But thanks to “sunscreen hysteria,” most people aren’t getting that.
A recent study found that 68% of their subjects – aged 70 to 79 – had low vitamin D levels. The study also found low vitamin D levels are linked to poor cognitive function.5
Since finding time to get outside during the day can be hard… and since the winter sun isn’t strong enough to trigger your skin to make vitamin D… I suggest taking a nutritional supplement. For adults, 800 IU (International Units) is the absolute minimum I recommend.
For an even bigger boost to your brainpower, consider a supplement with B vitamins and lion’s mane mushroom. Both are proven to support mental clarity.
Yours in continued good health,
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
1 Raji, C.A., et al, “Regular Fish Consumption and Age-Related Brain Gray Matter Loss,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Jul 29, 2014; DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2014.05.037
2 Borota, D., et al, “Post-study caffeine administration enhances memory consolidation in humans,” Nature Neuroscience. 2014; 17: 201-203.
3 Debette, S., et al, “Visceral fat is associated with lower brain volume in healthy middle-aged adults,” Annals of Neurology. Aug 2010; 68(2): 136-144.
4 ten Brinke, L.F., et al, “Aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume in older women with probable mild cognitive impairment: a 6-month randomised controlled trial,” Br J Sports Med. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-093184.
5 Wilson, V.K., et al, “Relationship Between 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Health, Aging and Body Composition Study,” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Apr 2014; 62(4): 636-641.