Memory Expert Reveals Myths about the Aging Brain
(NC)—Who says you can’t teach a mind new tricks at any age? Recent research shows that we have the power to positively influence our brain function throughout life—an important realization for the more than 14 million baby boomers in Canada.
“The fear of memory loss and losing brain capacity looms large among the minds of boomers,” said Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., leading neurologist and author of The Memory Cure. “But we can maintain and even improve our brain health as we age. In fact, our brains have the ability to grow and change throughout life.”
Dr. Fotuhi debunks five common myths about the brain and aging:
1. The brain stops growing after childhood.
A decade ago, many experts would have scoffed at the idea that the brains of adults, particularly older adults, could grow or develop in any significant way. But that has changed. Research increasingly suggests that each time a new skill is learned, such as playing an instrument, speaking a foreign language or even dancing, new pathways are formed and areas of the brain may grow, even well into the later years. Physical and mental exercise can alter specific brain regions, making radical improvements in cognitive function. Brain growth isn’t just for kids.
2. Once I start experiencing memory loss, it’s all downhill and there’s not much I can do.
Actually, good research has shown that there are a number of things you can do to improve your memory throughout life, even if you are already noticing changes. Exercise, challenging mental activities, social engagement, and diet have all been shown to have positive effects on cognition and memory. In fact, a new study published online in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association showed that healthy people with memory complaints who took algal DHA capsules for six months had almost double the reduction in errors on a test that measures learning and memory performance versus those who took a placebo, a benefit roughly equivalent to having the learning and memory skills of someone three years younger. DHA (or docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid and a crucial building block for the brain. Products enhanced with the same algal source of DHA used in the study, called life’sDHA, are now available, including So Good Omega DHA soy beverage, Li’L Ones Yogurt from Dairyland, Cool Ones Yogurt, Dempster’s Smart 100% Whole Wheat Bread, and Nanomega-3 Drink Mix. A listing of more products can be found online at lifesdha.com.
3. Memory problems must mean Alzheimer’s disease.
Many people, young or old, worry that mild forgetfulness must be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. But most people are worrying needlessly – research shows that more than 80 percent of us will never get Alzheimer’s disease. The good news? We have the opportunity to influence our brain health and function by incorporating lifestyle factors like exercise, a healthy diet, stress reduction, and intellectual and social engagement. Regardless of family history, the choices we make in life may be able to slow the progression of age-related cognitive decline or help prevent it altogether.
4. Brightest = youngest.
The majority of legislators, CEOs, doctors, lawyers, judges, economists and CEOs are not in their 30s or 40s, but seasoned veterans who bestow several decades of experience and expertise. Along with gray hairs comes both knowledge and wisdom and you do not have to look far to find have inspiring stories of accomplishment, creativity, and reinvention in the second half of life. See inspiring profiles of aging, and learn more about the actions we can take to ensure that we build and maintain minds that are healthy and beautiful for an entire lifetime online at beautiful-minds.com.