If lockdown wasn’t bad enough, with the constant isolated routine proving not very good for our memories (insert link to Isolation blog?), it now turns out that women need to be even more proactive in keeping their minds sharp, more so than their male counterparts.
Recent research carried out on 26,088 people with the average age of 58 has shown that women undergo ‘significantly faster’ cognitive decline later in life compared to men, which worryingly increases their risk of dementia1.
Trialists were repeatedly tested for global cognition, executive function and memory. Memory abilities of men and women were shown to decline at similar rates, however women lost executive function and global cognition performance faster. Declines in these two areas of cognition are known to increase dementia risk.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders which impact memory, thinking and behaviour. There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. Some people may have a combination of types of dementia. Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.
Although there is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s there are several lifestyle changes one can make to help keep the mind sharp and delay the onset of neurological disorders.
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 years2.
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 dementia3.
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’s4.
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 lead5.
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 behaviour6.
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 brain7.
Royal jelly, a wonderful substance produced by worker honeybees, has shown significant neuroprotective actions8. 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 Alzheimer’s 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 memory9.
While there is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s or ways to significantly enhance learning and memory, Royal Jelly may be able to increase the sharpness of your mind and memory ability10.
1. Sex Differences in Cognitive Decline Among US Adults. JAMA Network Open. February 2021.
2. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2014 Nov; 27(6): 478-483. Impact of Sleep on the Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia
3. 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.
4. 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)
5. NUTRITION AND BRAIN FUNCTION: TRACE ELEMENTS Harold H. Sandstead, M. D.
6. Iron deficiency and cognitive functions. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2014; 10: 2087–2095.
7. D.B. McCormick, J. Biol. Chem. 237: 959-962, 1962
8. 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.
9. 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
10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotrophic factors