• Rebecca Ramdeholl, CHNC

Are You Losing Your Mind?

Updated: Oct 2, 2018


By: Rebecca Ramdeholl, C.H.N.C


I don't know about you, but when I hit 39, I think I lost my mind.  My memory just crapped out, and my ability to recognize and recall celebrity faces on the spot sharply declined.  I was so awesome at this!  Now I can't even remember what I had for breakfast.

Oddly enough, I remember every single thing about my children, their past, their needs, their issues, what they wore yesterday, but I can't remember if I brushed my teeth.

With some relief, I discovered that so many women in the same age group as me, have the same problem.  In fact, a lot of them had the memory issues a lot longer than I did.  Seemed like the babies sucked out all of their cognitive abilities while they were growing in-utero.

Now that I got my depression and anxiety under control - just read my free e-book to find out how I got back on track - I started to look into this crazy mental decline I've been experiencing, and here's what I've discovered on some of the possible causes.


 DIET HIGH IN SUGAR AND FAT


A diet high in sugar and fat can result in poor memory and reduced brain volume.  Liquid sugar is complete crap for your brain.  The effect is most noticeable in the part of the brain that stores short-term memory.   Basically, liquid sugar is the sugar you consume in liquid form, and it’s this form that makes this worst than consuming sugar in solid foods.  You end up consuming MORE liquid sugar because the brain doesn’t register them in same way as the calories from solid food.  This means you don’t feel full when you have too much sugar as you would from eating sugar as opposed to drinking sugar.  The particular study that demonstrated this shows the negative effects of short-term exposure to high sugar and high fat diet.  If this can affect cognitive ability and reduced brain volume in the short-term, I can’t imagine the long-term effects!


AGING 


Boo!  Can't stop time, that's for sure.  But we can stay sharp as we gray.  As we age, the gray matter in our brain declines, and this negatively impacts our memory and cognition.  But there are things we can do to slow the aging process down.  Keep reading….


ALUMINUM


A study that came out last year found further proof that aluminum was a very important factor in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease – a really horrid condition that drastically effects a person’s memory and ability to think.  Some people may start to show symptoms as early as 30 years old, in the case of familial Alzheimer’s Disease (an uncommon hereditary form of Alzheimer’s).  Researchers have found that those that have a family history and genetically predisposed to develop early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease is linked to the accumulation of aluminum in the brain, through everyday exposure.  If you’re experiencing memory issues already and there’s Alzheimer’s in the family, you really need to reconsider your use of aluminum in your life (pans, foil, etc), and test your levels.  This can be done through a doctor or naturopath.


OBESITY


Obesity increases the risk factor for cognitive decline.  Obesity can cause changes in memory-associated genes in the brain, and this negatively affects memory.  With obesity, typically insulin-resistance and inflammation results, and this negatively impacts the workings of your brain as well.


SLEEP

Shitty sleep definitely has an impact on cognitive function.  It negatively effects memory, as sleep consolidates our memories. A study released online by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, showed that older adults who took a 1 hour nap after lunch had better cognitive function than those who didn’t nap, or who napped longer than 90 minutes.  Improvement was shown in word recall (this is the one that caught MY attention), math problems, and figure drawing.  AND get this  - in the study, those who didn’t nap at all, had the least amount of sleep at night!  So if you needed an excuse to catch a cat nap, now you have it!


BOOZE

An occasional drink here and there does not really affect memory.  But the binge drinking, that’s another story.  Those girlfriend getaways, and escapes from the kids, where we suddenly find ourselves guzzling down months worth of alcohol because we're suddenly free - that's the crap that causes our memory relapses.  Especially if it's consistent binge drinking.  Alcohol is a neurotoxin and as such has neurotoxic effects on the brain - meaning it's toxic to the brain and can cause damage.  Yes, even your red wine is a neurotoxin.  But taken moderately or less, it's cool.  Repeated binge drinking can damage the hippocampus and result in reduced memory performance.  So Bad Moms?  Binge drinking really THAT necessary?!


VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY 


A deficiency in this vitamin has been associated with accelerated cognitive decline and dementia.  People who live in the cold especially, need to make sure levels are adequate at the least!  Go outside and get some sun!


SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE


There seem to be some studies that suggests that exercise improves and reduces risks of cognitive decline, and some studies that suggests that it has no neuro-protective powers at all.  One study showed that people who are in early phases of dementia, are already showing declines of physical activity; but not the other way around.  But on the other hand, in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, there’s a study that reported that exercise did indeed offer protection against mental decline and dementia.  I tend to agree with the studies that show an improvement in cognitive abilities as a result of exercises.  One study of 144 people aged from 19 to 93, demonstrated that a 15-minute bout of moderate exercise on a stationary bike (not my fave) led to improved memory across all ages. 


Even in midlife, regular exercise had been associated with a decreased risk of developing dementia later in life.  Moderate exercise for short periods of time have also been shown to improve cognitive performance, including memory – I keep this in mind (if it’s not leaking out of my ears) on those days when I have major writer’s block or I’m really struggling with my memory.  I go to the gym, and I kid you not, the effects last for me for 36 hours until I have to move again.  I have ideas in my head, I can remember appointments without checking the calendar and I have lots of energy.


So now what?


Check out some of the possible causes and make some changes.  On top of that, there are some lifestyle choices and nutrition that you can utilize to help your memory get stronger.


  • Include green tea in your life. A study has shown that green tea extracts or their derivatives have some effect against Alzheimer’s disease if taken 15-25 years before symptoms set in.    There’s a compound in green tea called EGCG which interferes with the formation of toxic assemblies.  These toxic assemblies are suspected to have a role in beginning of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease.   

  • NAP!

  • Work your mind! Read books, take time away from mind-numbing garbage you watch online or on TV.   Cross-word puzzles, and word recall games are pretty good.  The game Tetris has been shown to help with memory as well. 

* Eat better.   Foods high in Vitamin D, and anti-inflammatory foods.  Antioxidants reduces oxidative stress caused by free radicals, therefore, lowering inflammation in the body.  Fruits, vegetables and teas are a great source of antioxidants.   Eating more fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia. 


Berries are fantastic sources of antioxidants, as they contain flavonoids and anthocyanins.   One study of more than 16,000 women showed that those who ate the most strawberries and blueberries had slower rates of cognitive decline and memory compared to those who consumed fewer berries.  Cocoa is another must-have in your diet.  It has antioxidants that are very beneficial to the brain, as they may help stimulate the growth of blood vessels and neurons and increase blood flow in the parts of the brain involved with memory.  The darker the chocolate (70% or more), the better!  And of course, we can’t forget its scrumptiousness! 


While the amount of causes seems to be overwhelming, don’t forget that there are lots of easy ways that we can defend our memory and cognitive abilities from attack.  Probably the most important of all these problems/solutions is sleep.  It’s the cheapest change we can do (it’s FREE), and it’s probably the most potent and fast-acting solution.  A real quick fix, everyone who’s had a good sleep can feel the effects the next day.  Give some of these solutions a try, give it some time, and see how your memory has improves.  If you can remember! 😉


References:

Sabia, Séverine, et al. “Physical activity, cognitive decline, and risk of dementia: 28 year follow-up of Whitehall II cohort study.” BMJ 357 (2017): j2709.


Journal: Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 729-739, 2018


Hogan Candice L., Matta Jutta, and Carstensen Laura L.  (June 2013).  Exercise holds immediate benefits for affect and cognition in younger and older adults.  Psychol Aging, 28(2): 587-594.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1037%2Fa0032634

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768113/


Hamer M and Chida Y.  Physical activity and risk of neurodegenerative disease: a systematic review of prospective evidence.  Psychol Med. 2009 Jan;39(1):3-11. Epub 2008 Jun 23

LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18570697/


Mirza Ambreen, King Andrew, Troakes Claire, and Christopher Exley.  Aluminum in brain tissue in familial Alzheimer’s disease.  Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology.  Mar 2017.  40: 30-36.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtemb.2016.12.001

LINK: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X16303777


Li Junxhin, Cacchione Pamela Z., Hodgson Nancy, Riegel Barbara, Keenan Brendan T., Scharf Mathew T., Richards Kathy C., and Nalaka S. Gooneratne.  Afternoon napping and cognition in Chinese older adults: Findings from the China Health and Retirement longitudinal study baseline assessment.  Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.  Feb 2017.  64 (2): 373-380.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.14368

LINK: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jgs.14368


Beilharz JE, Maniam J, and MJ Morris.  Short-term exposure to a diet high in fat and sugar, or liquid sugar, selectively impairs hippocampal-dependent memory, with differential impacts on inflammation.  Behavior Brain Research. 2016 Jun 1;306:1-7. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2016.03.018.   Epub 2016 Mar 10

LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26970578


Heyward Frankie D., Gilliam Daniel, Coleman Mark A., Gavin Cristin F., Wang Jing, Kaas Garrett, Trieu Richard, Lewis John, Moulden Jerome and J. David Sweatt.  Obesity Weighs down Memory through a Mechanism Involving the Neuroepigenetic Dysregulation of Sirt1.  The Journal of Neuroscience.  2016 Jan 27; 36(4): 1324–1335.  Doi: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI

LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728728/


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LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5317178/


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LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26366714


Small Gary W., et al.  Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial.  The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.  2018 March: 26 (3): 266-277.  Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jagp.2017.10.010

LINK: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1064748117305110?via%3Dihub


Savulich George, Piercy Thomas, Fox Chris, Suckling John, Rowe James B, O’Brien John T and Barbara J. Sahakian.  Cognitive Training Using a Novel Memory Game on an iPad in Patients with Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI).  International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Aug; 20(8): 624–633.  Doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/ijnp/pyx040.

LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569993/


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Jiang Xian, Huang Jiang, Song Daqiang, Deng Ru, Jicheng Wei, and Zhuo Zhang. Increased Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables Is Related to a Reduced Risk of Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: Meta-Analysis.  Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.  2017 February; 9: 18.  Doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2017.00018

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