Researchers from the University of Montreal in Canada and the University of Bordeaux in France published on September 10, 2014, an article to remember in the British Medical Journal. Their study followed 1,796 patients who took the class of medications called benzodiazepines (medicines like Valium and Xanax). They noted that when compared to the control group, these patients had a 51 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The study linked these medications—used for anxiety, insomnia, and to help people relax—to memory problems.
Alzheimer’s is a growing problem. This terrible disease causes the memory to worsen over time. President Reagan, toward the end of his life, did not even remember he had been president. What a cruel disease! It is estimated that 36 million people in the United States have this condition. By 2050, the number is expected to triple.
September is World Alzheimer’s month. Everyone reading this can probably think of a relative, friend, or someone close with memory problems.
I want to give 10 suggestions to aid the control and health of the memory center of the body: the brain. I could give more, but let’s start one step at a time. Choose one of them, try it out, and see if you do not think a bit better. Do not forget to try one suggestion for at least a week.
1. Exercise. Studies have shown that movement increases nerve growth in the brain (i.e., it increases brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor), helps deliver more oxygen, increases endorphins and a host of other positive reactions. Just moving around every hour is of some benefit. A brisk walk would help even more.
2. Rest. Recall how you think when you are tired! Go to bed earlier. Take a day off and break your routine. Is it time for a vacation?
3. Eat foods like kale (increases nitric oxide production), bananas, almonds (omega-3 fatty acids) walnuts, and any fruit or vegetables with antioxidant properties. These help the inflammatory process as well as serve as precursors for the transmitters the brain needs. Basically, eat real food; the fresher and more colorful the better
4. Get sunshine and fresh air. Vitamin D is needed to make serotonin. The brain loves oxygen. Take 10 deep breaths, hold three seconds, and blow out slowly three times a day. Do this while taking a walk outside. If this is not possible, take a Vitamin D supplement.
5. Drink water. Every chemical reaction in the body needs water, especially the brain.
6. Take Vitamin B-12, if you do not get this in the normal diet.
7. Avoid processed foods. These can cause insulin and dopamine spikes and can disrupt the bowel flora.
8. Read aloud for 10 minutes a day. Reading exercises different parts of the brain.
9. Listen to music. Listening to Mozart has been shown to help the brain.
10. Avoid toxins, fumes, and medications that could hurt the brain. The medications mentioned above are just a few of such poisons. Avoid alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, and other toxins.
The first step, should you agree to the challenge, is to read this blog aloud the second time through and share it with a friend. Don’t forget!