Healthy Ways to Improve Your Memory

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Healthy Ways to Improve Your Memory

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  • 11/8/2015 HealthyWaystoImproveYourMemory

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/11/07/howmemoryworks.aspx?e_cid=20151107Z2_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email... 1/8

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    November07,2015 | 135,873views

    HowYourMemoryWorks,andtheSurprisingImplicationsofImpairedMemoryFunction

    ByDr.Mercola

    Formostpeople,theabilitytorecallmemoriesisanautomaticfunction,andthemechanicsofmemoryformationisrarelygivenmuchthoughtorattention.Thatisuntilsomethinggoeswrong,andtheirmemorybeginstofalter.

    Asnotedinthefeaturedvideo,yourmemoryholdsarecordofyourentirelifeandshapesyouridentity.Asyourmemoriesdwindle,itcaneasilyfeelasifyou'relosingtheveryessenceofwhoyouare.

    Thevideoreviewsthefascinatingtopicofhowyourmemoryworks,andthesurprisingramificationsofmemoryloss.

    HowYourMemoryWorksAtbirth,yourbrainbeginstoshapeitselfbasedontheinteractionsyouhavewithyourenvironment.Bybranchingandmakingnewconnections,theneuronsinyourbrainactuallyrecordyourexperiences.

    The"recordings"storedintheseneuralconnectionsareyourmemories.Interestingly,theabilitytoformmemoriesandrecallpasteventsdoesnotoccurimmediatelyuponbirth.

    AccordingtoprofessorMartinConway,anexpertonchildhoodamnesia,thisiswhymostpeopledonothavememoriesgoingfurtherbackthantheageofabout5,orinsomecases3.

    He'sbeenlookingforthekeyeventorchangethatoccursthatfinallyallowschildrentorecallthepast.

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    StoryataglanceYourmemoryholdsarecordofyourentirelifeandshapesyouridentity,buttheabilitytoformmemoriesdoesnotoccuruntiltheageofaboutfive.Priortothat,lackofselfrecognitionpreventsautobiographicalmemoryformation

    Thesamebrainareasareactivatedduringmemoryrecallandactiveimagination.Researchersbelievethereasonforthisisthatyouusememoriestopiecetogetheranimaginedpictureofthefuture

    Withoutmemory,youalsoloseyourabilitytoprojectorimagineyourselfinafuturescenario

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  • 11/8/2015 HealthyWaystoImproveYourMemory

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/11/07/howmemoryworks.aspx?e_cid=20151107Z2_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email... 2/8

    Pediatrictestsdesignedtoassessselfrecognitionachild'sabilitytounderstandthattheyareaseparateindividualfromotherpeoplealongwithtestsdesignedtoassessmemory,revealsafascinatinginsight.

    Selfrecognitionisanessentialingredientforformingautobiographicalmemories.Thistypeofmemoryisdifferentfromrotememoryhowever,orthememorizationoffactsanddata.

    LivingWithoutMemoriesThefilmfeaturesJohnForbes.Now30yearsold,hewasbornprematurely,andhismemorycircuitwasneverfullydeveloped.

    Asaresult,hehastroublewitheventhemostbasictasksinvolvingmemory,suchasnavigatingtoadestination,evenwhenhe'sbeentherehundredsoftimes,rememberingthenamesofpeopleheknows,orfollowinginstructionsgivenjustmomentsearlier.

    What'smore,eachactionyoutakeonanygivendayisactuallydependentonyourrememberingtotakeitwhetherit'stobrushyourteetheachmorning,orthatyouhaveanappointmentthatdayandthisissomethingJohncannotdo.

    Hehastorelyonwrittenlistsforeverything.Healsocannotrecallanythingthathappenedinhispast.

    ThedamageinJohn'sbrainiscentralizedaroundtheprimarymemorycircuit,thehippocampus.Whenyourhippocampusworkswell,eachmomentofyourlifeisregistered.

    Whenitisdamaged,youwillstruggletorememberfactsandevents,andinseverecaseslikeJohn's,eventhemostbasicmemoryfunctionswillsuffer.

    TheSurprisingLinkBetweenMemoryandImaginationResearchusingbrainimaginghasrevealedremarkablesimilaritiesinthepatternsofbrainactivitywhenyou'rerememberingapasteventandimaginingafutureone.

    Infact,theexactsameareasareactivatedduringthesetwomentaltasks,andresearchersbelievethereasonforthisisthatyouusememoriestopiecetogetheranimaginedpictureofthefuture.

    Whatthismeansisthatasyoudeveloptheabilitytorememberthepast,fromaroundtheageof5onward,youalsodevelopyourabilitytoreflectandimaginethefuture.

    Formostpeople,thisabilityto"timetravel"inyourmindishonedbytheageof9.

    John,ontheotherhand,cannotmentallyprojecthimselfintothefuture,sohe'strappedinaneternalpresent,withneitherfuturenorpast.Asnotedinthefilm,atfirstglance,thismightseemlikearatherpleasantcondition.

    Hedoesn'tworryasmuch,forexample,becausehecannotrememberthattherearethingstoworryabout.Butontheflipside,he'sstumpedwhenaskedwhathewantsforhisownfuture.Inessence,hislackofmemoryofthepasthasrobbedhimoftheabilitytoimaginehimselfinafuturescenario.

    TheBenefitsofMentalTimeTravelTheabilitytotravelthroughtimeinyourmind,backwardandforward,liesattheheartofourmostsophisticatedmentalabilitiesthatdefineusashumans.Oneofthereasonswhywecareabouttomorrowisbecausewerememberyesterday,andthisallowsustomakeplanstocreateabetterfuture.

    Italsogivesyouthepowerofabstractthought,creativity,andproblemsolving.Ifnoneofushadmemory,noplanswouldeverbemade,andwe'dallmullthrougheachdayatrandom.We'dhavenoindustriesormodern

    InfectedFactoryFarmedMeatMayBeAnotherCausativeFactorforAlzheimer'sDisease

  • 11/8/2015 HealthyWaystoImproveYourMemory

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/11/07/howmemoryworks.aspx?e_cid=20151107Z2_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email... 3/8

    technologiesprojectsthatrequireagreatdealofplanning,organizing,andfollowthrough.

    Memoryisthementalfacultythathasallowedmantostakeaclaimatthetopofthefoodchain,asitallowsustolearnfrompastmistakes,andimaginewhattheoutcomemightbeifwechangeouractions.

    Inshort,memoryisessentialforthesurvivalofourspecies.It'salsothoughtthatlanguageandadvancedproblemsolvingskillsareadirectoutgrowthofthehumanmemoryfunction.

    RememberingWhatYou'dRatherForget...Yourmemoryreachesitspeakpotentialattheageof25.Atthispoint,yourbraincanrecall200bitsofinformationpersecond,allwhilecontrollingyourbodyatthesametime.

    Forexample,youdon'thavetorelearnhowtorideabikeasthispatternisstoredinyourprimitivereflexivebrain.Similarly,mostofuscandrivetoworkon"automaticpilot"asitwere,withoutneedingtogivereflectiveconsciousthoughttosteering,breaking,andnavigating.

    Whenitcomestomemories,wetendtorememberthingsbetterthatareimportanttous.Unfortunately,traumaticmemoriesarealsousuallyrecordedwithincrediblesharpness,makingadistanteventseemasfreshtodayasitwasrightwhenithappened.

    Memoriescannotbedeletedatwill,whichcanhavenegativeconsequences.It'sbeenestimatedthatbyadulthood,atleast10percentofpeoplewillhaveexperiencedsomethingthey'dratherforget.Posttraumaticstressdisorder(PTSD)istheresultoftheinabilitytoforgetatraumaticeventthatcausessevereemotionaldistress.

    ThefilmfeaturesGenevieve,whoseviolentsexualassaultnineyearsearlierleftanindelibleimprintinhermind.Itshowsherparticipatinginaresearchprojecttoseeiftraumaticmemoriescanbedampenedwiththeuseofamedicationcalledpropranolol,abetablockerusedfortreatingcardiovascularandanxietydisorders.

    Changesinmemoryfunctionwasoneofthesideeffectsthatemergedwhenthedrugwasinitiallyreleased,whichledsomeresearcherstoconsideritforuseinpatientswithpainfulmemories.AsreportedbyMedicalDaily:

    "Havinganalyzeddatafromavarietyofstudies,researchersfoundthatpropranololgivenbeforememoryconsolidationreducedsubsequentrecallfornegativelyperceivedstories,pictures,andwordlists.Useofpropranololbeforereconsolidationalsoreducedsubsequentrecallforwordswithnegativeimpactaswellastheexpressionofcueelicitedfearresponses.

    Consideringthepivotalroleofharshandpowerfulexperiencesinthedevelopmentandpersistenceofmentaldisorders,interferingwiththeconsolidationorreconsolidationofanymemorynaturallyopensthedoortonewtherapeuticapproachesinpsychiatry."

    TreatingPTSDbyDisruptingMemoryReFormationForoveracentury,scientistshaveknownthatmemoriesarestoredintheconnectionsbetweenbraincells.Thecellsgrowtowardeachotherinordertoformtheseconnections,throughwhichsignalscanbepassedbetweenthem.What'sstillnotunderstoodishowtheseconnectionsactuallyrepresenttheexperiencestoredwithinthem.

    Whateverthemechanism,itwasthoughtthatoncestored,amemorywithallofitsdetailswasfixed.Butrecentresearchhasfoundthatrecallingamemorymakesitmalleableandfluidagain,anditisatthisstagethatthepainassociatedwithamemorycanbereducedbypropranolol.Thedrugappearstoinhibitproteinsthatenablethememorytobesavedagain.Sobytakingthedrug,followedbyrecallingthememory,theemotionalpunchthatgoesalongwithitcanbereducedovertime.

    ThisisactuallylikelywhytheEmotionalFreedomTechniques(EFT),anenergypsychologyapproach,workssowellasitisabletohelprepatterntheneurologicalcircuitsthatstorepainfulmemoriesthatseverelyimpairone'sabilitytoliveafullyfunctioningpainfreelife.

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  • 11/8/2015 HealthyWaystoImproveYourMemory

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/11/07/howmemoryworks.aspx?e_cid=20151107Z2_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email... 4/8

    AgeRelatedMemoryDeclineLiketherestofyourbody,yourbrainchangeswithage.It'snotuncommonforchangesinmemorytooccuraswell,althoughmostpeopleadaptandcompensatequitewell,allowingthemtofunctionnormally.Notsurprisingly,theabilitytoformandrecallmemoriesisdependentonhealthybraincells.

    Onefactorthatdrivesagingofyourbrainisbloodflow.Asbloodflowisdecreased,yourwhitebrainmatter,andtheconnectionsbetweenthedifferentbrainregions,beginstodeteriorate.Whenthatoccurs,thinkingbecomesimpaired.

    Informationcarryingchemicalmessengersarealsoaffected.Bythetimeyoureachtheageof80or90,youwillhavelostabout50percentofthesechemicalmessengers,andthisalsoimpairsmemoryandcognitiveability.Eventhen,it'sremarkablehowmuchofyourmemoryisretained,ifyou'rehealthy.Therealproblemiswhenyourpoorlifestylecatchesupwithyou,andyourbrainstartstodeterioratebeyondthenorm.

    ThiscanalsohappenthroughneurovascularaccidentslikestrokeorneurodegenerativediseaseslikeAlzheimer's.Thankfullysciencehasbeguntomorefullyappreciatetheneuroplasticityofthebraintocompensateforsomeofthesechallenges.IwillbepostinganinterviewwithNormanDoidge,MDinafewmonths.HeistheauthorofthefascinatingbookTheBrain'sWayofHealing,thatgoesintoextensivedetailsonsomeofthesehealingstrategies.

    WhatCausesDevastatingMemoryLoss?Alzheimer'sdisease,asevereformofdementia,isnowthethirdleadingcauseofdeathintheUS,rightafterheartdiseaseandcancer.Oneofthehallmarksofthediseaseisthebuildupoftoxicproteinsinthebrain,particularlyinthehippocampalarea,causingmemoryloss.Butwhatcausesthebuildupoftheseplaques?ModernresearchhasfoundanumberofdifferentriskfactorsthatmayplayaroleingeneralmemorylossandAlzheimer's,andmostofthemaredirectlyrelatedtounhealthylifestylechoices.

    Theseinclude:

    Processedfooddiet.MountingresearchsuggestsourmoderndietisplayingasignificantroleintheskyrocketingprevalenceofAlzheimer's.Processedfoodstendtobenearlydevoidofhealthyfat,necessaryforhealthybrainfunction,whilebeingexcessivelyhighinsugar.Thiscombinationappearstobeattheveryheartoftheproblem.Fortunately,thesolutionisquitesimple:eatREALfood,andavoidprocessedfoodliketheplague.

    Insulinresistanceanddiabetes.Alzheimer'sissometimesreferredtoas"type3diabetes."Yourbrainactuallyproducesinsulinnecessaryforthesurvivalofyourbraincells.AtoxicproteincalledADDLremovesinsulinreceptorsfromnervecells,therebyrenderingthoseneuronsinsulinresistant,andasADDLsaccumulate,yourmemorybeginstodeteriorate.PreviousresearchhasalsoshowndiabeticshaveadoubledriskofdevelopingAlzheimer'sdisease.AccordingtoneurologistDr.DavidPerlmutter,anythingthatpromotesinsulinresistancewillultimatelyalsoraiseyourriskofAlzheimer's.

    Lackofexercise.Exerciseencouragesyourbraintoworkatoptimumcapacitybycausingyournervecellstomultiply,strengtheningtheirinterconnectionsandprotectingthemfromdamage.JohnJ.Ratey,apsychiatristwhowrotethebookSpark:TheRevolutionaryNewScienceofExerciseandtheBrain,saysthereisoverwhelmingevidencethatexerciseproduceslargecognitivegainsandhelpsfightdementia.

    Heclaimsyoucaneasily"pushbackcognitivedeclinebyanywherefrom10to15years"byincorporatinganexerciseregimenthreetofourtimesaweekevenifyoubeginduringmiddleage,andexerciseatamoderaterate.

    Sleepdisturbances(suchassleepapnea,insomnia,orchronicallyinsufficientamountsofsleep).Inonestudy patientswithsleepapneaand/orsnoringwerediagnosedwithmildcognitiveimpairmentmorethanadecadeearlierthanthosewithoutsleepapnea.Onaverage,thosewithuntreatedobstructedsleepapneastartedexperiencingcognitiveimpairmentattheageof77,comparedto90amongthosewithoutbreathingproblems.

    OnsetofAlzheimer'sdiseasewasalsomorerapidamongthosewithuntreatedsleepapnea.On

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  • 11/8/2015 HealthyWaystoImproveYourMemory

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/11/07/howmemoryworks.aspx?e_cid=20151107Z2_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email... 5/8

    average,theywerediagnosedaboutfiveyearsearlierthanthosesleptwell.

    Evenifyoudon'thavesleepapnea,chroniclackofsleepalsopromotesAlzheimer'sbypreventingcriticaldetoxification.Yourbrain'swasteremovalsystem,knownastheglymphaticsystem,onlyoperatesduringdeepsleep.Theglymphaticsystemallowsyourbraintoclearouttoxins,includingtheharmfulproteins(amyloidbeta)linkedtoAlzheimer's.Withoutpropersleep,harmfulwastebeginstoaccumulateinyourbrain.

    KeyDietaryConsiderationsforAlzheimer'sPreventionResearch fromtheMayoClinichasrevealedthatdietsrichincarbohydratesareassociatedwithan89percentincreasedriskfordementiawhilehighfatdietsareassociatedwitha44percentreducedrisk.Thiscombinationofverylittlesugarandcarbs,alongwithhigheramountsofhealthyfatisessentialnotonlytoaddressAlzheimer's,butdiabetesandheartdiseaseaswell,sincealloftheseconditionsarerootedininsulinandleptinresistance.

    Understandingthiscanmakeyourlifeawholeloteasier.Youdon'tneedtomemorizethedosanddon'tsforeachandeverydiseaseyouseektoavoidallyouneedtodoisshiftovertoamindsetthatisfocusedonoptimizinghealth.Diseasepreventionthenbecomesabeneficial"sideeffect."Myoptimizednutritionplancansetyouontherightpathinthisregard.Insummary,thefollowingfourdietaryinstructionsarekeyformaintainingbrainhealthandstavingoffAlzheimer's:

    EatREALFOOD,ideallyorganic.Avoidprocessedfoodsofallkinds,astheycontainanumberofingredientsharmfultoyourbrain,includingrefinedsugar,processedfructose,grains(particularlygluten),geneticallyengineered(GE)ingredients,andpesticideslikeglyphosate(anherbicidethoughttobeworsethanDDT,andDDThasalreadybeenlinkedtothedevelopmentofAlzheimer's).

    Ideally,you'llwanttokeepyouraddedsugarlevelstoaminimumandyourtotalfructosebelow25gramsperday,oraslowas15gramsperdayifyoualreadyhaveinsulin/leptinresistanceoranyrelateddisorders.Optingfororganicproducewillhelpyouavoidsyntheticpesticidesandherbicides,manyofwhichareassociatedwithneurologicaldysfunction.

    Besuretochooseorganicgrassfedmeatsandanimalproducts,asanimalsraisedinconfinedanimaloperations(CAFOs)areroutinelyfedGEgrainscontaminatedwithpesticides,alongwithavarietyofdrugs.SomeresearchershaveevensuggestedAlzheimer'smaybeaslowactingformofmadcowdisease,acquiredbyeatingcontaminatedmeatsandmadcowdiseaseoriginatedintheCAFOsystem,whichforcesherbivorestoeatanimalparts.

    Researchhasalsoshownthatvegetablesinparticulararebeneficialforslowingdownagerelatedcognitivedecline.Nutritionalinterventionwithvegetablesmayevenplayanimportantroleinreversingsuchconditi...