If, since lockdown, you have found it hard to summon up the word you need, remember to put the bins out, or yet again forgotten to buy the milk – you are not alone.
In a survey conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society, half of relatives said that their loved ones’ memories had worsened after the isolation that has come hand and hand with COVID 19.1
Many of us have found ourselves in an isolated routine during the pandemic – and it turns out, that’s not very good for your memories. Limits on socialising has taken its toll. A lack of social contact can affect the brain negatively and the effect is most serious in those already experiencing memory difficulties. Talking to your neighbour about local news and events helps us to consolidate our memories of personal experiences, hence why memories don’t seem as crystal clear as they normally would.2
When we do get the chance to chat, we also have fewer stories to tell as we are confined to our homes with little interaction with the real world. The good news is that there are things we can do about it. Going for a walk, especially along unfamiliar streets, will bring your brain back to attention.
Something else you may want to try is learning a language or musical instrument. Higher bilingual proficiency is associated with better verbal working memory performance.3 People who are bilingual also develop dementia later than monolinguals, and musical training seems to protect some areas of the brain from decline.
Exercising your heart, muscles and lungs can boost brain chemicals that help ward off dementia. Older adults who did aerobic exercise (such as running or cycling) three times a week for a year grew larger hippocampi (the hippocampus is a brain area intimately involved in memory), and performed better in tests of memory, according to a 2011 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Meanwhile, a good night’s sleep can help clear out potentially damaging brain gunk each night. Trials suggest fixing sleep problems can slow the rate of cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by up to ten years.4
Making sure the weekdays and the weekends are different enough not to merge into one and deliberately reflecting on your day each evening can help you consolidate your memories. Try writing a diary of your life in lock down. And if you’re forgetting to do things, then making lists and setting alerts on your phone can make more difference than you might think.5
A good diet can also add years of healthy cognitive function. A team from Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago found that those who stuck to a Mediterranean diet had brains that were nearly six years younger than their peers on the Western diet. The Mediterranean diet features more fruit and fish and limiting sugar, dairy and processed foods. Previous studies have found that it could help keep the mind sharp and reduce frailty in older individuals.
Supplementing your diet with certain vitamins, minerals and herbs has also proven effective in improving cognitive function and memory. You can find all of these memory boosting ingredients in Manuka Plus Forget-Bee-Not supplement.
B12 & Folic Acid
B vitamins work together to perform essential roles in our bodies, particularly brain function. A surprising number of us could be lacking, particularly in vitamin B12. US research has found large doses of B vitamins could halve the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people with memory problems, and therefore help to slow the progression of dementia. Similarly, a two-year UK trial at Oxford University found B vitamins – including B6, B12 and folate – could slow mild cognitive impairment, which often leads to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.6
According to a study by Dr Martha Morris and colleagues at Chicago’s Rush Institute for Healthy Aging, eating fish once a week reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 60 per cent. The researchers followed 815 people for seven years and found that dietary intake of fish was strongly linked to Alzheimer’s risk. They found that the strongest link was the amount of DHA, a form of omega 3-fat. The higher a person’s DHA, the lower their risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Studies suggest that DHA may help prevent cognitive decline before the development of Alzheimer’s.7
Iron, Zinc & Iodine
Certain trace elements are essential for brain growth and function. From a human health perspective, the elements of greatest importance are iodine, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, mercury and lead.8
Micronutrient deficiencies, especially those related to iodine and iron, are linked to attention span, intelligence, and sensory perception functions, as well as those associated with emotions and behaviour.9
Zinc is essential for the activity of many enzymes. Impairments in activities of these and other enzymes by zinc deficiency may account for some of the effects of zinc deficiency on the brain.10
Royal jelly, a wonderful substance produced by worker honeybees, has shown significant neuroprotective actions.11 Queen bees are fed their whole life with Royal Jelly and worker bees receive this food for a short period during the larval stage of life. Queen bees live for 1–5 years, but worker bees only for 3–6 weeks. When administered orally, data suggests that Royal Jelly may be a promising tool for improving memory and cognition.
Royal Jelly has also shown to be effective in supporting Alzheimers patients while assisting memory and brain function by using its antioxidant power, while potentially preventing neurodegenerative diseases. These are peptides support the growth and survival of neurons in the brain, essential for learning and memory.12
While there is currently no known cure for Alzheimers or ways to significantly enhance learning and memory, Royal Jelly may be able to increase the sharpness of your mind and memory ability.13
1. The impact of COVID-19 on people affected by Dementia. Alzheimers Society, July 2020.
2. Claudia Hammond, the author of The Art of Rest.
3. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology Volume 128, December 2014. The benefits of being bilingual: Working memory in bilingual Turkish–Dutch children
4.Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2014 Nov; 27(6): 478-483. Impact of Sleep on the Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia
5. Claudia Hammond, the author of The Art of Rest.
6. Homocysteine-Lowering by B Vitamins Slows the Rate of Accelerated Brain Atrophy in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Controlled Trial. 14 September 2010. University of Oxford.
7. M. Morris, et al.. Consumption of fish and n-3 fatty acids and risk of incident Alzheimer disease. Arch Neurol, vol 60, pp. 940-946 (2003)
8. NUTRITION AND BRAIN FUNCTION: TRACE ELEMENTS Harold H. Sandstead, M. D.
9. Iron deficiency and cognitive functions. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2014; 10: 2087–2095.
10. D.B. McCormick, J. Biol. Chem. 237: 959-962, 1962
11. Oral treatment with royal jelly improves memory and presents neuroprotective effects on icv-STZ rat model of sporadic Alzheimer's disease. Heliyon. Volume 6, Issue 2, February 2020.
12. Adv Biomed Res. 2012; 1: 26. Effect of Royal Jelly on spatial learning and memory in rat model of streptozotocin-induced sporadic Alzheimer's disease
13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotrophic factors