Social media is teeming with memes joking about mild memory issues often associated with middle age and beyond. One of my staff members laughed out loud at a meme that said: “You know you're getting older when you use the word 'thingy' all the time because you can no longer remember what things are called.
” And another meme that said: “I've learned two important lessons in life. I can't recall the first one, but the second one is that I need to start writing stuff down.
” While these jokes may seem humorous and make people feel they are not alone with mild memory issues, not being able to fully concentrate and forgetting things can certainly affect your quality of life! Not being able to remember people's names or articulate quite the way you used to is often a source of embarrassment and frustration. Mild forgetfulness shouldn't and doesn't need to be part of middle age.
Brain Fog, Concentration, and Memory Problems
Some of the complaints I hear from patients: “Sometimes I can't remember simple words,” … “I can't concentrate as well as I used to,” or “I have brain fog.” First of all, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please make an appointment with your physician to rule out anything serious. Most times, however, these mild symptoms can be helped with diet modification, exercise, and dietary supplementation.
Inflammation Affects Your Brain
I often talk about inflammation affecting joints, but did you know that inflammation affects your brain and thus your memory, too? This is why it's vitally important to pay attention to your diet. It's not just about how you look or how much you weigh, it's about your brain function! After all, what could be more important? It is often said that “the brain can repair itself” which is true, but ongoing chronic inflammation hinders neurogenesis (new growth of nerve tissue).1
Chronic inflammation is also being linked to depression. “Inflammation is therefore an important biological event that might increase the risk of major depressive episodes, much like the more traditional psychosocial factors.
In fact, ongoing, low-grade inflammation is at the root of many diseases.
How to Help Your Brain
Exercise is key to brain health. Walking has long been the favorite activity of many great minds throughout the ages – and for good reason. Exercise helps the brain's plasticity (ability to change, grow, learn). “Exercise increases synaptic plasticity by directly affecting synaptic structure and potentiating synaptic strength, and by strengthening the underlying systems that support plasticity including neurogenesis, metabolism and vascular function.
Walking is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise; it's free and it's low impact. Many people remark that having a dog gives them incentive to walk more.
If you are unable to walk, there are many ways to exercise that do not involve walking – see: SitAndBeFit.org
, and numerous other videos available on YouTube
for people with limited mobility.
Essential Fatty Acids – Particularly Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Your brain needs fats – the right kind of fats, in particular, Omega-3 fatty acids. After years of yo-yo dieting, diet fads, and avoiding fat like the plague, many middle-aged people have come to the realization they have actually not eaten enough of the right kinds of fats over the years. Our brains actually need fat to work properly. “The human brain is nearly 60% fat.
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for optimal brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids are: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – both of which are found in fatty types of fish, and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) found in nuts and seeds.
Some foods high in omeg-3 fatty acids
: wild caught sardines, mackerel, and salmon (EPA and DHA); and organic flaxseeds and walnuts (ALA).5
Amino Acids (The Building Blocks of Protein)
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a source of the essential the amino acid, cysteine, which is used by the body to make glutathione, the body's powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals
, and thus, inflammation.6
Some non-inflammatory foods containing cysteine
: organic pork, organic chicken, and organic turkey.7
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR): The ALCAR form of the amino acid L-carnitine has multifaceted roles in protecting the brain from an accumulation of oxidative stress
damage which can lead to inflammation, and thus, memory problems. There is evidence showing that dietary supplementation
of ALCAR may improve performance on memory tasks.8
Some non-inflammatory foods containing carnitine
: organic, grass-fed beef steak, organic ground beef, organic chicken breast, and organic asparagus.9
Phospholipids are major structural parts of biological membranes.10
The fatty acids that make up phospholipids create a protective barrier.11
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid that is highly concentrated in the brain. Phosphatidylserine (PS) plays a major role in neuronal energy production, as well as communication.
Some non-inflammatory foods containing phospholipids
: organic, grass-fed beef.12
Alpha-Lipoic Acid acts as both a fat- and water-soluble antioxidant (it inhibits oxidation). Alpha-lipoic acid provides intracellular and extracellular protection against oxidative stress (caused by free radical damage) which causes inflammation and accelerates the aging process.
Some non-inflammatory foods containing alpha-lipoic acid
: organic: broccoli, yams, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, rice bran, and grass-fed beef.13
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
CoQ10 is synthesized by the body, and facilitates the transfer of electrons in the electron transport chain. It had been suggested that CoQ10 supplementation may help lesson the the process of inflammation.14
Some non-inflammatory food sources of CoQ10
: organic, grass-fed beef, wild-caught herring, and organic chicken.15
What if I'm Vegan, Am Allergic to, or Loathe Many Brain-Healthy Foods?
Many people cannot tolerate many of the brain healthy foods listed above for various reasons, including: food allergies, veganism, religious reasons, or just plain disliking them! A reminder: if you have been tested for food allergies and it has been shown that you are highly reactive to a certain type of food...but you still keep eating it...you are actually increasing
the inflammation in your body! The idea is to stop the cycle, and get rid of chronic (ongoing) inflammation which is at the root of many
Another way to feed your brain is through dietary supplementation.
Ultimate Cell Energy
My Ultimate Cell Energy
supplement is pure, 3rd-party tested, GMP-certified
, highly bioavailable (absorbs well into the body), made in the USA, and contains nearly all of the nutrients discussed above.
Ultimate Cell Energy
supports: enhancement of brain function, healthy memory, neuronal energy production, and also provides antioxidant (protection from free radical damage) support to the brain.
Ultimate Cell Energy is vegan-friendly, and non-allergenic as it DOES NOT CONTAIN
: wheat, gluten, yeast, soy, animal or dairy products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, or artificial preservatives.
Curcumin Rapid Absorb
Adequate antioxidant protection from ongoing free radical damage (which causes chronic inflammation) is crucial to maintaining the health and function of the cell and, hence, tissues and organs, especially the brain. More and more research is being done on curcumin
with regard to its far-reaching anti-inflammatory properties which include inflammation in the brain.
My Curcumin Rapid Absorb
supplement is pure, 3rd-party tested, GMP-certified
, absorbs well into the body, and is made in the USA.
Curcumin Rapid Absorb
provides: antioxidant and cell protectivity, and supports brain/neuronal health, and a healthy mood.
Curcumin Rapid Absorb is also vegan-friendly, and non-allergenic as it DOES NOT CONTAIN
: wheat, gluten, corn, yeast, soy, animal or dairy products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, or artificial preservatives.
Please first discuss these or any dietary supplements you take or wish to take with your physician or licensed health care professional. Dietary supplements can interact with prescription medications, as well as with one another.
The Doctor Emi Team
1. Whitney, N. P., Eidem, T. M., Peng, H., Huang, Y. and Zheng, J. C. (2009). Inflammation mediates varying effects in neurogenesis: relevance to the pathogenesis of brain injury and neurodegenerative disorders. Journal of Neurochemistry, 108: 1343–1359. doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.05886.x (Wiley)
2. Robert Dantzer,*‡ Jason C. O’Connor,* Gregory G. Freund,*‡ Rodney W. Johnson,* and Keith W. Kelley*‡. From inflammation to sickness and depression: when the immune system subjugates the brain. Nat Rev Neurosci. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Aug 10. Published in final edited form as: Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Jan; 9(1): 46–56. doi: 10.1038/nrn2297. PMCID: PMC2919277. NIHMSID: NIHMS213147. (PMC)
3. Carl W.Cotman, C.Berchtold. Lori-AnnChristie. Exercise builds brain health: key roles of growth factor cascades and inflammation. Volume 30, Issue 9, September 2007, Pages 464-472. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2007.06.011. (ScienceDirect)
4. Chang CY1, Ke DS, Chen JY. Essential fatty acids and human brain. Acta Neurol Taiwan. 2009 Dec;18(4):231-41. PMID: 20329590. (PubMed)
5. www.dhaomega3.org. The Source for Objective Science-based DHA/EPA Omega-3 Information. DHA EPA Omega-3 Institute. (DHAOmega3)
6. Cysteine. Overview. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/cysteine. University of Maryland Medical Reference Guide and Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide. 2017. (UMM)
7. Cysteine. Dietary Sources. http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/cysteine. University of Maryland Medical Reference Guide and Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide. 2017. (UMM)
8. Jiankang Liu*†, Elizabeth Head‡, Afshin M. Gharib*†, Wenjun Yuan*, Russell T. Ingersoll*, Tory M. Hagen§, Carl W. Cotman‡, and Bruce N. Ames*†¶. Memory loss in old rats is associated with brain mitochondrial decay and RNA/DNA oxidation: Partial reversal by feeding acetyl-L-carnitine and/or R-a-lipoic acid. Current Issue > vol. 99 no. 4 > Jiankang Liu, 2356–2361, doi: 10.1073/pnas.261709299. (PNAS)
9. Carnitine. What foods provide carnitine? National Institutes of Heatlth (NIH)
10. Phospholipid. Biology Online. (Biology-Online)
11. Berg JM, Tymoczko JL, Stryer L. Biochemistry. 5th edition. New York: W H Freeman; 2002. Section 12.3, There Are Three Common Types of Membrane Lipids. (NIH)
12. Daniela Küllenberg,1 Lenka A Taylor,2 Michael Schneider,3 and Ulrich Massingcorresponding author1. Health effects of dietary phospholipids. Lipids Health Dis. 2012; 11: 3. Published online 2012 Jan 5. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-11-3. PMCID: PMC3316137 (PMC)
13. Reviewed by David Kiefer MD on October 17, 2016. Alpha-Lipoic Acid. (WebMD)
14. Junya Zhai,1 Yacong Bo,2 Yan Lu,3 Chunli Liu,4 and Lishi Zhang1,*. Effects of Coenzyme Q10 on Markers of Inflammation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS One. 2017; 12(1): e0170172. Published online 2017 Jan 26. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0170172. PMCID: PMC5268485. (PMC)
15. Coenzyme Q10. Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Information Center. Oregon State University. (OSU)