Ageing is a natural part of life, and as just as your body ages, so does your brain. Maintaining memory during ageing is an important factor in being able to maintain a healthy, independent lifestyle.
Your nervous system
Your brain is like a ‘master control panel’, controlling all your conscious and unconscious bodily functions through your central and peripheral nervous systems. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves that lead out of the spinal cord and into the rest of the body. Neurons or nerve cells carry signals or nerve cell impulses rapidly around the body to control these activities.
Energy for your brain
The brain is one of the most ‘energy hungry’ organs in your body and is energised by glucose and oxygen, delivered by blood cells through your circulatory system. Unlike muscles, your brain cannot store glucose as glycogen, so it needs a constant supply of glucose to work effectively. Brain cells also need an uninterrupted flow of oxygen to allow the brain to function properly.
The ageing brain
The weight of your brain decreases with age due to the loss of neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Nerve cell impulses begin to slow, leading to decreased cellular communication and circulation may be compromised, decreasing the amount of glucose and oxygen delivered to the brain.
4 herbs and nutrients to help maintain memory during ageing:
1. Ginkgo biloba – helps maintain blood flow to the brain, so assists in the maintenance of cognitive function, memory, focus and concentration for study and during ageing, providing antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity.
2. Brahmi – is a brain and nervine tonic of Ayurvedic medicine, traditionally used to improve memory, concentration and learning, supporting cognitive function and memory during ageing. Brahmi contains an active ingredient known as bacoside A, which assists in the release of nitric oxide, allowing the relaxation of blood vessels to enable smooth blood flow throughout the body. This offers a positive effect on learning and memory recall. Brahmi also improves stress adaptation, so is beneficial during periods of stress.
3. Alpha Lipoic acid(ALA) – is a potent water and fat soluble antioxidant and free radical scavenger that’s able to cross the blood-brain barrier. ALA helps maintain nerve health, assists glucose metabolism and is involved in the uptake of glucose into cells.
4. Lecithin – or phosphatidylserine, is the major phospholipid in the brain and is important for cellular communication, which helps improve the transfer of signals between brain cells.
4 Foods to help maintain a healthy brain
1. Blueberries. help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may help to reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
2. Wild salmon. rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for brain function, Omega-3s also contain anti-inflammatory substances.
3. Nuts and seeds. are good sources of vitamin E – higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older.
4. Avocados improve blood supply and oxygenation to your brain, they contain high quantities of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which help keep your brain cell membranes flexible.
Avocado oil has been shown to help lower blood pressure, and as hypertension is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities, a lower blood pressure should promote brain health.