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Several years ago, Dr. Daniel Amen, a clinical psychiatrist and medical director of the Amen Clinics, introduced us to a conversational level of brain science. Dr. Amen (say, “AY mn”) has studied tens of thousands of brain scans and made many practical conclusions. First, he offered books and programs about brain types and personality. He taught us how to identify different brain types and how to feed people with different brain types, to get them to relate pleasantly. More recently, he has given programs about how the brain ages, what affects it negatively, and how you can keep yourself and your brain young. He also talks about the ability of the brain to recover from injury and toxic exposures. He illustrates his points with brain scans of patients, before and after recovery treatment.
Enter neurologist Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Fotuhi is not only on the neurology faculty at Harvard Medical School, but also a consultant in neurology at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His specialty is research in protecting the brain from degeneration, especially in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and general memory loss. Dr. Fotuhi has found that brain size is important in memory functions, especially the size of the hippocampus, He has studied the causes and effects of brains shrinking or enlarging. One of his amazing findings is that patients can have Alzheimer’s Disease present in the brain but have no memory loss, if the hippocampus is large.
Large brains are good! So how can you have a larger brain? Dr. Fotuhi has 5 steps for you, summarized here:
- Take a DHA supplement. This will provide Omega-3 fatty acids, which actually reduce the plaque formation of Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Use brain-stimulating switchups. Use your other hand to shave or clean a counter, or write backwards. These practices will build your hippocampus.
- Use breath exercises. Since stress increases production of cortisol, and cortisol reduces memory, any stress reduction techniques can increase your memory. In particular, Dr. Fotuhi recommends this breath technique: inhale to a count of seven, hold for a count of seven, then exhale to a count of seven. Shortly, you will feel your entire system relaxing.
- Do pushups. This pushes blood to your brain. One third of your brain is blood vessels, so the increased circulation is powerful.
- Eat superfoods. Those most helpful to the brain are:
– Elderberries. They contain corsitine, which stimulates the activity of the cell mitochondria, the cells’ energy factories.
– Pecans. These contain choline, which supports brain health and specifically memory functions.
– Chicken giblets. A powerful source of Vitamin B12. People with low B12 have a smaller hippocampus.
– Clams. In addition to B12, they contain zinc and iron, which also support brain function.
– Vegetable juice. This contains a potpourri of both known and as yet unidentified vitamins.
So current research shows that we can help ourselves, with simple methods, to have better brains and better memories, even with Alzheimer’s Disease. Why not pick three of these and work them into your daily routine? Living well is the best revenge. Support your brain and enjoy your memory for many years to come.
–Your comments welcome!–
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