Maybe you forgot where you set your keys. It happens to everyone, right? But what about forgetting a good friend’s name? Or an important appointment? Left on its own, your brain actually begins to shrink when you hit midlife.
Whether you’ve had a family member who’s suffered from Alzheimer’s, you’re starting to notice your memory is not as sharp as it used to be, or you want to protect yourself for the future, it’s time to strengthen your brain. Research now shows that you can not only slow down brain shrinkage, but you can actually increase the size of our brain at any age. Here, Dr. Oz and renowned neurologist Dr. Majid Fotuhi reveal their memory cure – a plan to help you prevent Alzheimer’s in just five simple steps.
Brain Booster 1: DHA Supplement
If you’re only going to take one supplement, DHA is the one you need. DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid that makes up a significant portion of your brain tissue. Lower DHA levels are associated with a smaller brain size, so it’s important to supplement your natural DHA intake (which comes primarily from cold-water seafood). Taking a DHA supplement reduces inflammation, combats the plaque buildup associated with Alzheimer’s, and increases blood flow to your brain. In fact, studies have shown that taking 600mg of DHA supplement daily for 6 months boosts your brain so much that it functions as though it were 3 years younger!
Brain Booster 2: Brain Stimulating Switch-Ups
Just as it’s important to add variety to your physical exercise routine, adding variety to your daily mental routine cross-trains different muscles in your brain. Simple switch-ups, such as putting your watch on your opposite wrist, using your opposite hand while brushing your teeth, doing your hair and eating, and even writing backward activate brain regions that might otherwise go unstimulated. This stimulation can lower your risk of memory impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
Brain Booster 3: The 7-7-7 Stress-Busting Breath
We all know stress is bad for our health, but you may not have known it can be deadly when it comes to your brain. Stress is like poison for your hippocampus – the part of brain responsible for memory – as it leads to chronically high levels of the hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels can cause brain cell dysfunction, kill brain cells, and cause atrophy of the brain. Busting stress, therefore, is vital to preserve your memory.
Three times a day, close the door, remove your shoes and socks, and lower the lights. Breathe in for 7 seconds; hold it for another 7; then exhale for a final 7 seconds. Repeat the technique seven times to help “reset” your brain and get your cortisol levels under control. Research has shown that mindful relaxation techniques are associated with an increase in the size of your hippocampus in as little as 8 weeks.
Brain Booster 4: Tease Your Memory
While we may feel our memories just aren’t what they used to be, we actually have an innate ability to remember just about anything – so long as we train ourselves to use the right mechanisms. It may shock you, but you have the ability to memorize a list of 20 or 30 items, simply by forming big, important, or even silly associations with each item. For example, say you need to remember the word “baker.” If you think of a friend with the last name “Baker” you may have some success. If, however, you think of a bread baker, wearing a white hat and apron, doused in flour, surrounded by the aroma of freshly baked croissants, you won’t forget the word “baker” for days! You can do the same with a shopping list, a to-do chart, or just about anything, so long as you associate high-importance with all 20 items. Doing so will have a positive, expansive effect on your hippocampus, fighting off Alzheimer's.
Brain Booster 5: Brain Push-Ups
Dr. Fotuhi believes push-ups – yes, just good old-fashioned push-ups – are the most important step to strengthening your “brain muscles” and preventing Alzheimer’s. Proper form, however, is key. Start on the floor, with your hands set at about a shoulder-width distance, angling your hands in a way that feels comfortable. Extend your legs, with your feet also in a comfortable position, generally shoulder-width apart or wider for more stability. Be sure your body is in one straight line from your head to your heels; avoid having your butt or belly either sagging or sticking up. Clenching your butt cheeks and tightening your abs will ensure you’ve engaged your core. Keeping your gaze forward, slowly lower until your elbows form a 90-degree angle, keeping your arms in tight to your body. Then, push yourself back up, still keeping your elbows tight and your core engaged. For additional support when first starting out, keep your knees bent on the floor and do modified push-ups. Either way, 7 push-ups or more a day will help stimulate blood flow to your brain and generate new brain cells, which is the most effective weapon in fighting cognitive disease.
Using each of these techniques on a daily basis will boost your brain and ward off Alzheimer’s. Be sure to supplement them with another vital component in the fight against memory loss – Dr. Oz and Dr. Fotuhi’s Brain Diet. Click here for the complete Brain Diet.