QUESTION: I am having a terrible time with my memory and can’t seem to focus. Alzheimer’s disease runs in my family and I’m concerned. What can I do?
ANSWER: There are lots of things you can do from a natural viewpoint that can help you with mental focus and memory. Many people use the term Alzheimer’s when they actually mean dementia. Alzheimer’s is one type of dementia. So ask yourself these questions…
- Do you use artificial sweeteners? Yes, eliminating artificial sweeteners has helped many people with memory problems.
- How much exercise are you getting? Even a simple exercise like brisk walking can bring circulation to the brain, which can help memory and mood, level out blood sugar, and give you more energy and mental focus. Mental exercise, like crossword puzzles can exercise the brain also.
- Do you have any issues with blood sugar or hormone imbalance? Blood sugar and hormone imbalances can affect brain function and give you fuzzy brain. Yes, that’s a medical term. Well…maybe not.
- How much water do you drink? The brain must be hydrated to function. Take the number of pounds that you weigh, divide that in half, and that’s the number of ounces of water or herbal tea you need in a day. Increase to that amount gradually and increase the target amount if you drink diuretics, like coffee, non-herbal tea or alcohol.
- Are you taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications that could impact your brain? Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any medications you are currently taking to assess whether your medication could be impacting your memory and focus. The use of many medications, like statins, nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, some antidepressants, and incontinence medications can increase the risk of dementia.
- Do you eat a diet rich in B vitamins? B vitamins can lower homocysteine which can increase the risk of dementia.
- Are you under prolonged stress? Stress can alter the way your brain works. There is compelling research that concludes that stress is often a trigger for Alzheimer’s.
- Do you get seven to eight hours of deep sleep daily? The brain needs rest to recuperate and recharge.
- Do you have allergies? Common triggers like gluten and casein (in milk products) can cause brain malfunction.
- Do you experience social isolation or depression? These factors can increase the risk for loss of memory and mental focus.
The Alzheimer’s Association advises us that one in eight Americans over 65 suffers from Alzheimer’s. Based on current trends, by the year 2050, that number may increase to one in four Americans. We are all wise to do whatever we can to prevent this horrible disease by taking a natural approach to brain health.
Hot Tip: Gingko biloba has helped many people regain mental focus and energy, but should not be used by anyone with high blood pressure. Gotu Kola is an herb that can be very effective in helping memory and focus. No, this is not related to Pepsi Cola or Coca Cola!
Marty Kernion, Ph.D. is not a medical doctor. She has a doctorate in naturopathy. Naturopathy uses natural, gentle ways to bring our bodies back into balance so that they have the God-given ability to heal themselves. She is a retired professor of herbal medicine and nutrition and has written 39 college level courses in natural approaches to health. She has published two books on natural health. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org for scheduling a class or consultation, or for sending in your questions for this column.