Your brain does more than remind you where your car keys are. Your brain is the reason you remember everything from your senior prom to how to calculate sales tax and your grandchildren's names. Protecting your brain is key to preventing memory loss and the development of Alzheimer's disease.
On the May 31 episode of "The Dr. Oz Show," Dr. Mehmet Oz welcomed neurologist Dr. Majid Fotuhi to discuss his research about preventing and possibly reversing memory loss, all in the hope of preventing Alzheimer's disease. According to Dr. Fotuhi, the memories we collect every single day of our lives are stored in our brain's hippocampus. Factors like stress (which produces cortisol in the brain that can damage brain cells), poor diet and lack of exercise can all lead to brain degeneration.
When it comes to your brain, size matters and the bigger the better. Certain brain exercises and lifestyle changes can help you grow your brain to help improve your memory and prevent or even reverse degeneration. The first step Dr. Fotuhi recommended was to add one supplement to your daily routine: DHA.
DHA and Alzheimer's Disease
Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA works to protect the brain by reducing inflammation, improving blood flow and removing plaque buildup. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in your brain tissue. According to a 2007 article published in Alternative Medicine Review, DHA is responsible for generating neuroprotective metabolites to help the brain develop and keep it protected. As we age, our brain tends to shrink, and smaller brains have less DHA, making supplementation vital for preventing memory loss.
Dr. Oz also emphasized the importance of DHA at all stages of life, starting with children, to protect your brain through adulthood. According to a 1999 article published in Pharmacological Research, DHA is also credited with positively affecting diseases including arthritis, hypertension, depression, diabetes and some cancers. Dr. Fotuhi and Dr. Oz recommended 600 mg per day of this important supplement. Commonly produced from cold-water fish and seafood, DHA is available in liquid or softgel form -- it's even flavored to prevent a fishy aftertaste.
Other Supplements for Cognitive Health
In addition to DHA, there are more natural ways to help protect your brain. These supplements support healthy cognitive function:
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA):
ALA is known as "the universal antioxidant" for its wide-ranging benefits. Also naturally found in vegetables like broccoli and spinach, ALA is located in the mitochondria of our cells, the place where our cells produce energy. ALA can protect your brain by fighting off free radicals that can damage cells and cause them to age. ALA also supports a healthy central nervous system.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC):
NAC is another powerful antioxidant that protects the health of our cells. NAC is credited with helping to rid the body of toxins from pollutants like cigarette smoke and heavy metals like mercury. By protecting our cells from damaging free radicals and toxins, NAC supports cognitive function and memory.
DMAE is an amino acid alcohol that occurs naturally within the brain. DMAE supports healthy brain function by ensuring the proper operation of neurotransmitters that trigger responses throughout our entire body. DMAE is known to be a precursor to choline, a chemical that plays a critical role in learning and memory. DMAE can help you feel more alert and focused.
This phospholipid encourages the secretion of cortisol which can be damaging to the brain. Individuals under high levels of stress have elevated levels of cortisol in the brain, making them more susceptible to memory loss. Our levels of phosphatidyl serine decrease as we get older, making it more difficult for the brain to get the nutrients it needs.
These supplements can help you maintain the health of your brain and hold onto your memories. It's also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise to keep your brain in tip-top shape. Like Dr. Oz said, if there's one supplement worth keeping around for life, it's DHA.
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