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March 20, 2018  |  Login
Memory Problems
by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.

Misplaced documents. Forgotten names. Missed appointments. More than two-thirds of people over sixty-five say that they have trouble recalling old details and absorbing new ones. To some people, memory problems are just part of what used to be called "senility," an unfortunate but natural part of old age. For others, periodic forgetfulness sets off alarm bells: Is this Alzheimer's? Stroke? Dementia?

Poor memory is a problem but not an inevitable part of the aging process. While it's true that nerve cells in the brain do shrink a little with advanced age and that it's harder for them to form connections with one another, most researchers now believe that memory loss is caused mainly by lifestyle factors. Most cases can be prevented or reversed with some simple changes in diet, exercise, and habits.

Many people with memory problems are actually suffering from a malnourished brain. The brain, like the rest of the body, needs to receive its supply of oxygen and nutrients from the blood if it is to function at its best. Chemicals called neurotransmitters, which enable the brain cells to communicate and create memory links, are especially dependent on good nutrition. The brain also needs high doses of nutrients to fight damage from free radicals. Of particular importance are essential fatty acids, which are required for the cell walls of brain cells. These essential fatty acids, particularly DHA, impact memory and concentration in a positive fashion. When the circulation is sluggish and blood is low in "brain food," memory disturbances may well be the result.

Other factors can contribute as well. Several medications, alone or in combination, can cause memory loss, as can underlying illnesses like depression, thyroid problems, and chronic fatigue. Sometimes even allergic reactions to food can impair memory. Poor digestion can be at the root of memory problems, as can a hormone imbalance. In particular, elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can impair memory. One must also consider hypoglycemia as a possibility of poor memory. This makes sense, considering that glucose is the primary fuel source for the brain. Systemic candidiasis frequently causes a foggy or poor memory. Also, toxic metals such as lead, mercury, and others can impair mental function and should be chelated out, if they're a problem.

If you try the suggestions here and your problems don't improve within a couple of weeks, see your doctor.

Next: What are the Symptoms of Memory Problems

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