I have something to admit. I wrote this week’s column at the last possible minute because I completely forgot to write it this weekend. For the record, this is the first time in more than two years that it’s happened. I still feel horrible about it, especially since my kind and caring editor already has his hands full at home with so much going on in his life.
I’ve often wondered what can be done about forgetfulness. You often hear people say things like, “my memory ain’t what it used to be” and “I have terrible short-term memory” and “I’m so forgetful!” I hear that all the time (even variations of it from myself), and it made me realize I never hear the opposite of those statements.
When was the last time you heard someone say, “My memory is amazing?” Probably never.
Most people blame memory problems on aging, which is only partially true, because memory loss is not an inevitable part of growing older, according to the medical community. Sure, age-related memory loss happens due to a handful of natural reasons. But your brain sort of works like a muscle, in the sense that you either use it or lose it, so to speak. What you feed your brain, both physically and mentally, absolutely contributes to your ability to keep your memory sharp, as your brain can actually produce new cells at any age. Interesting, right?
There are other factors that will start to chip away at your once-flawless memory, including depression, which can mimic memory-loss because it lessens your ability to concentrate. Vitamin deficiencies, excess stress, dehydration, smoking and alcohol abuse can also eat at your memory in noticeable ways.
How do you keep your brain sharp? Essentially the same way you keep your entire body sharp, and it begins with your diet. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies, as well as meats that contain Omega-3 fatty acids is the first best thing you can do. Also, take care to manage your stress levels (easier said than done, I know). Make sure you get plenty of sleep, as a lot of aging folks think sleep is a waste of time, and I get that, but sleep deprivation will put you in a grave faster than just about anything else. More sleep gives your body time to repair and heal, which is especially important as you grow in age.
Oh, and nothing boosts your brain power like good old-fashioned exercise. Exercise, at any age, promotes the growth of new brain cells, decreases stress, reduces risk for every disease known to mankind, and just plain makes you feel good. You don’t have to lift weights and run 15 miles per hour on a treadmill if that’s not your thing. Go for a walk, do some activities in the backyard, and park further away from the entrance at the store. It all adds up.
Last, but not least, don’t forget to give your brain a mental workout as often as possible. Whether it be an epic novel, a crossword puzzle, a friendly debate with friends or reading your favorite newspaper – which you’re obviously doing right now — mental stimulation is the golden key to keeping your brain as honed as a fresh razor blade.