“What did I come in this room for? Who’s that actor in that one movie with that one tall girl?” Does this ever happen to you? We all experience the horrible moments of memory lapse, forgetfulness and inability to hold information. It is a common problem that comes along with aging, but it also could be a negative effect caused by tiredness, stress or lack of nutrition. You are in luck though; there are ways to help prevent memory loss from occurring.
Just like physical exercise to maintain a healthy body, we need to practice mental strengthening by performing different exercises to keep the brain running smoothly. I will also discuss great alternative ways to treat memory loss using Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.
In western medicine the brain is the center of our nervous system. Without it functioning properly the rest of our body will also have difficulty performing. There are different sections of the brain that are developed to handle different tasks: the cerebellum, frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe and the temporal lobe. The frontal lobe is the largest section of our brain, which handles the decision-making functions such as preparation, development, reasoning and abstract thoughts. There are two sections of the temporal lobe positioned at ear level. These lobes are responsible for obtaining new information and short-term memory. The right lobe is responsible for visual memory while the left works on verbal memory.
This amazing organ is capable of producing new brain cells throughout a person’s life, but like muscle tissue you must maintain it or you will lose it. Depending on your lifestyle, nutritional impact and your daily schedule, those factors will determine how quickly your brain responds.
Occasional lapses are a totally normal part of the aging process, but if you or a loved one experiences severe lapses on a more frequent basis it could possibly be the beginning stages of dementia. However, there are common signs of memory lapses that are not dementia:
• Mixing up names (calling your daughter by your sister’s name…or worse, your dog’s name)
• Forgetting where you placed your car keys
• Walking into a room and forgetting why you entered
• Forgetting planned activities
• Having trouble retaining information
• Easily distracted
You must be proactive to improve your brain’s functionality. There are many easy ways to strengthen the brain’s performance. To name a few: exercise, eat nutritional foods, manage your stresses, stay socially active, get a sufficient amount of sleep, and play games that involve strategy or word/ number puzzles.
Someone who drinks excessively or does drugs is constantly damaging his or her brain, resulting in memory loss. The toxins in alcohol and drugs kill brain cells and prevent new ones from forming. If you are experiencing memory lapses and you drink heavily, I would strongly suggest cutting back on the alcohol intake, and the brain cells will start to perform again.
The brain also needs oxygen. Bottom line: Do not smoke. It will save you from lung cancer, but it will also help you retain information and keep a quick wit.
Also, cut back on refined sugars and processed foods. These foods contain no nutritional value for your body and only focus the body’s energy towards breaking down the food while it should be focused on strengthening the brain. I suggest eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, omega 3-fats and anything with a high level of antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in many different fruits and other produce, but it is abundant in green tea. This will literally strengthen your brain cells and keep them from withering away. Any foods rich in omega-3 fats (fish, flaxseed and different nuts) are exceptional for brain and memory building.
Along with eating right, it is important to get enough sleep and control your stress levels. Stress produces a hormone called cortisol, which compromises the brain over time and can lead to some severe memory problems. Stressed people find it hard to concentrate, learn new things and remember information.
There are great and easy ways to manage stress. First, I would suggest some light to vigorous exercise. While exercising your body releases a chemical called endorphins. This chemical triggers a sense of happiness and energy within the body, which will then subdue the stresses you are dealing with. You should exercise regularly to maintain a healthy body, but also to boost your brain growth. Taking care of your health will result in the development of new brain cells. Staying physically fit will reduce your chance of developing diseases with side affects of forgetfulness and slower brain functionality. Not only is exercise great way to manage stress, but it also wards off depression (another cause of memory loss) and improves your sleeping pattern.
In Chinese medicine, it is said to obtain the most optimal sleep each night, one must sleep between the hours of 10pm to 6 am. These hours are important, as this is when the “yin” energy in the body is most active. The yin energy is responsible for our “house-cleaning:” duties such as cell regeneration and detoxification. We need this time for sleep to allow for our entire mind, body and spirit to be replenished every night. People who are lacking enough sleep have problems functioning altogether. Without resting the brain it cannot work as hard, which will cause difficulty processing information or reacting in a situation.
Boost your brainpower! An enjoyable way in strengthening the brain is play some games. The more difficult the game is the better. Try exercising the brain and play a game that involves a lot of strategy and concentration like chess or maybe a word game such as Scrabble. There are also number games like Sudoku or even the daily crossword in the newspaper. Hey, while you are working on the crossword puzzle … why don’t you read the newspaper, too? Reading a book or magazine that is more challenging for you can improve thoughts and comprehension while working your brain. With our smart phones there are hundreds of apps you can download and play in your spare time.
Activities like this, though they seem minor, can help you retain information and speed up your thought process. Did you know that people who interact with others on a frequent basis (family, friends or complete strangers) have a lower risk of experiencing memory problems? Social interaction is a great way to keep your mind sharp because you are more alert interacting with others, which works your brain. It also aids to warding away stress and some cases of depression.
In Chinese medicine, the heart and kidney energies are associated with memory. A mixture of Chinese herbs and acupuncture has been proven to help with memory loss and forgetfulness. Patients who undergo acupuncture find great results after using a course of the treatments for a specified amount of time. Chinese herbal medicine is specific to each individual, which is decided by a practitioner after conducting an examination of the tongue and pulse along with doing a thorough medical history and intake. After doing this, a practitioner can recommend the correct formula to restore and tonify the kidneys and strengthen qiand blood. By nourishing and supporting the qi, blood, and kidney energy, we can enhance our memory and increase our focus and concentration.
If you would like to learn more about preventing memory lapses and what might be causing your forgetfulness, visit this site. Also, If you would like to learn more about Chinese Medicine to prevent memory loss, the practitioners at the Tiffani Kim Institute are highly trained and the best in the field. Please call 312.260.9000 to schedule a consultation with either Jeanie Bussell or Caroline Jung.