In your 30s, your memory was bullet-proof. By your 50s, there was a brain burp here and there. But they were small and more likely to make you laugh then worry.
These days, though, those memory lapses happen more often. And those senior moments don’t feel quite so funny anymore. In fact, at times they can be downright scary.
And some things just don’t come together as easily as they once did. The stuff you used to do without a second thought like organizing the church bake sale, planning meals for the week or balancing the checkbook take a lot more effort.
But go to your doctor about those little slips, and he’ll likely do one of two things.
- Either dismiss them as nothing to worry about.
- Announce you have cognitive decline and grab the prescription pad to start you on a heavy-duty drug you may not even need.
But there’s a third choice he’ll never bother to mention.
Which is too bad, because it turns out it’s the best approach of all, according to a new study published in the journal Nutrients.
And you’re never going to believe just how easy it is.
Make your memory WORK for you
Researchers from several New England universities followed more than 1,000 folks who were at high-risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Over several years, they tracked how much polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) they were eating.
The researchers asked the volunteers to answer some questions and take tests designed to measure what scientists call “executive function.” It’s a strange term, but it means pretty much what you might imagine.
Executive function isn’t just about memory. It’s about how you use what you know to plan, organize, and complete tasks. And if you’re thinking that sounds REALLY important, you’re right.
In fact, executive function is vital for living an independent life. Because when your executive function starts to fail things like keeping up with conversations, following directions and making decisions start to fail too.
But it turns out a trifecta of natural nutrients could be the key to keeping your brain firing on all cylinders and protecting your executive function.
Omega-3s are key to a “younger” brain
The researchers found that the folks eating the most EPA, DHA, and DPA omega-3 fatty acids had much more agile minds. In other words, their brains had the flexibility of folks who were far younger than they were.
And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a connection between omega-3s and better executive function either.
For example, University of Illinois researchers discovered that the omega-3s found in fatty fish help protect our brain power too.
They tracked high-risk volunteers’ ability to change subjects on the fly, without losing the thread of conversations. And they found that people who ate more PUFAs had no trouble keeping up with the mental gymnastics. While the people who weren’t eating as many omega-3s found themselves lost far more easily.
Jettison the junk for better omega balance
Just as important, they found when folks had high levels of omega-6 they had creakier brains. They were less flexible, and their executive function suffered.
You’ll find omega-6s in moderate amounts in some healthy foods such as walnuts and flaxseed. But they’re also high in foods we get far too much of such as vegetable and canola oils and junk foods such as potato chips and fried chicken.
And since omega-6s are only healthy when you get them in the right balance with omega-3s, overdoing the 6s and slacking off on the 3s can cause serious issues for senior’s brains.
Shore up your memory with this seafood secret
Your best bet for stocking up on the brain-supporting dream team of EPA, DHA, and DPA omega-3s is to eat more…
You can also get all three supplements.
A strong memory is necessary for living a full life. But remembering what you had for breakfast yesterday is only part of staying independent.
You have to be able to keep up with all the little and big decisions that make up your day-to-day life too. And making the decision to stop at the seafood counter every week is the BEST decision you can make to assure it stays that way.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
Follow Alice and HealthierTalk on Twitter and Facebook.