Memory Foggy? 5 Signs It's Not Serious

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It’s natural
to feel nervous when you forget something, knowing that Alzheimer’s
disease now affects 5.3 million Americans. But a memory slip doesn’t
always mean the worst. According to KPHO, the following five situations
point toward normal, age-related memory loss.

  1. Lapses
    Don’t Interfere With Everyday Life

    Slowed
    recall of information from time to time is normal – everybody
    forgets stuff. What’s not normal is when memory impairment interferes
    with your ability to get through the day.

  2. You
    See an Improvement After ‘Brain Training’

    Dementia
    is not a problem of retrieving old memories so much as it is
    an inability to form new ones. If you can still learn new things,
    you’re still forming new memories.

  3. You’ve
    Just Started A New Medication

    Drug side
    effects are one of the more common causes of memory trouble.

  4. Nobody
    Else Seems To Notice Anything’s Amiss

    Usually,
    there’s a lot of family friction around the kind of memory loss
    that predates a diagnosis – arguments over who neglected
    to do something, missed appointments, or forgotten messages.

  5. You’re
    Forgetful When Stressed, Sleep Deprived or Multitasking

    A stressed
    brain is not the same thing as a demented brain.

Source: KPHO
December 9, 2010

Dr. Mercola’s
Comments:

So-called “senior
moments” happen to all of us … even those who are far from reaching
their golden years. You forget where you parked your car, misplace
your keys, forget the name of someone you met last week – all
of these scenarios are part of life, and they’re completely normal.

That said,
your brain should not feel foggy all the time, nor should you be
experiencing episodes of forgetfulness that are so severe they interfere
with your ability to function normally.

I’ve often
said that memory loss is not at all a “normal part of aging,” and
if you’re feeling like your mind is truly slipping, it could be
a sign of a more serious problem.

Brain Fart
vs. Memory Loss: When is it Serious?

Brain
farts
, or as neuroscientists call them “maladaptive brain activity
changes,” are those “oops” moments when you make a really obvious
mistake.

These occur
because your brain perceives many of your daily tasks as patterns,
and may revert to its default mode network (DMN), the part of your
brain responsible for your inward-focused thinking, such as daydreaming,
during this time.

This can be
a problem as the DMN competes, in a sense, with other areas of your
brain for resources, and in order for you to carry out a task that
requires focused attention, your brain must inhibit the DMN.

So if your
brain takes a “time out” during a task that requires your full attention,
a brain fart is likely to occur. In just the blink of an eye, you
miss your exit driving home from work, send an important email to
the wrong person or forget what you went into the next room to grab.

Fortunately,
DMN blips are typically short-lived, and once you realize you’ve
made an error your brain will likely kick into overdrive to try
and correct the mistake.

On the other
hand, changes in your memory function could be a sign that your
brain is on a gradual decline – and it’s time for you to take
action to protect and restore your cognitive function.

New Research
Shows Mild Memory Loss is Not Normal

While occasional
slip-ups and forgetfulness are normal, mild memory loss is not.

Brain lesions
have been associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for some
time, but in a new study, researchers were surprised to discover
that even very mild memory loss appears to be linked to the presence
of the same
type of damage seen in more serious cases of cognitive decline
.

They concluded
that even very mild changes in your cognitive function – once
thought to be a “normal” sign of aging – is actually one of
the first signs of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

So what does
this mean? If you notice that your mind is not as sharp as it used
to be, don’t ignore it – take action to help reverse, or at
least minimize, further damage.

5 Top Steps
to Protect Your Brain Function

Your brain
is actually a very moldable organ that can even rewire
itself if given the proper tools
. In fact, humans continue to
make new neurons throughout life in response to mental activity.

So one of the
simplest methods to boost your brain function is to keep on learning.
The size and structure of neurons and the connections between them
actually change as you learn.

This can take
on many forms above and beyond book learning to include activities
like traveling, mind-training
activities
, learning to play a musical instrument or speak a
foreign language, or participating in social and community activities.

Next, you will
want to be sure your lifestyle is conducive to a healthy brain,
which includes:

  1. Eating
    Right Studies have shown that elderly individuals who
    consume
    a healthy diet
    are less likely to suffer symptoms of dementia
    as they age.

    Avoiding
    sugars and grains, and being mindful of eating foods that do
    not cause major spikes in your glucose levels, is very important
    if you want to optimize your health and maintain optimal brain
    function, regardless of your age.

    In fact,
    insulin resistance and diabetes significantly increase your
    risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, which is why the dietary
    strategies that protect your brain
    are very similar to those
    for avoiding diabetes.

  2. Exercising
    Regular
    exercise
    promotes essential cell and tissue repair mechanisms,
    including growth of new brain cells. In essence, exercise encourages
    your brain to work at optimum capacity
    by causing your nerve
    cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections and protecting
    them from damage.

    Previous
    research has also shown that a regular exercise program can
    slow
    the development of Alzheimer’s disease
    by altering the way
    damaging proteins reside in your brain. So be sure you are taking
    part in an effective and comprehensive exercise regimen, like
    my Peak
    Fitness program
    .

  3. Omega-3
    Fats

    One of
    the most essential nutrients for your brain are omega-3 fats.
    A number of studies have shown that omega-3s can offer
    protection against cognitive deterioration
    .

    Several
    protective mechanisms have been suggested
    , including:

  • Reducing
    inflammation in your brain
  • Limiting
    the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques, which are a hallmark
    of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Influencing
    membrane functioning
  • Regenerating
    nerve cells

Unfortunately,
the ideal source of omega-3 – fish – is typically not
a safe source anymore, as most
fish are now severely contaminated
.

This is why
I recommend getting your omega-3 from a high-quality krill oil
instead. In addition to being more absorbable than fish oil, it’s
also loaded with beneficial antioxidants and is clearly the most
sustainable source of animal-based omega-3 on the planet.

  1. Sleep

    It’s during
    sleep that your mental energy is restored, and a lack of sleep
    may cause your brain
    to stop producing new cells
    . So read my Guide
    to a Good Night’s Sleep
    to get your sleep schedule on track.

  2. Vitamin
    D Optimizing your vitamin D levels through safe sun
    exposure, a safe tanning bed and/or vitamin D supplements is
    a must. Vitamin D plays a very
    important role in brain development and function
    , so get
    tested regularly
    to make sure you maintain
    healthy levels year-round
    .

  3. Coconut
    Oil Brain starvation is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s
    and recent studies and shown quite
    phenomenal improvement with using coconut oil
    . While there
    are no studies indicating it works specifically for memory loss,
    based on this study and all the other benefits of coconut oil
    it would seem prudent to use it.

So remember,
a minor “brain fart” is nothing to worry about, but if you really
want to keep your mind sharp as a tack, you can ensure it’ll stay
that way by implementing the healthy brain strategies listed above.

December
31, 2010

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Best of Joseph Mercola

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