Are you looking after your brain health (Part Two)

by Karla Walter

In Part One we discussed many different foods that can be included in your diet for brain function and memory improvement. Along with food, there are also activities, that you can do that will help your brain and memory abilities. In California at UCLA Longevity Centre, participants take part in a programme designed to help find a baseline memory score. From that score they can determine how your memory and brain function are performing. Once they have evaluated your situation a 2 week programme is developed for your needs. They have worked with over 18,000 participants and the results are very encouraging. Not only do they advise of a healthy diet, but also other activities such as memory games and puzzles to challenge the brain. The importance of learning or stimulating our brain with new information is so important. The old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, is wrong. You also don’t have to be elderly to learn new information. Learning is all ages and is important. Recent research is showing that memory loss is now prevalent in 40 year old men and women. Dr. Gary Small who heads up the programme at UCLA has written a book on hoping to increase memory called 2 Weeks to a Younger Brain. The book focuses mainly on research mainly, however there are exercises in the back of the book that are very helpful for helping your memory. 


In our technological world and also the world of printed material anyone can find puzzles, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, number games, word games that will help in keeping ones memory active. Many specialists in Alzheimer’s and Dementia encourage people with the conditions and those without to help improve or in some cases prevent the onset of these diseases. It doesn’t matter your level of skill set when it comes to problem solving with puzzles. 


The famous Mensa Quiz is well known around the world. You can go online and take short test of questions to see how you fair. This prestigious organisation has on its website, a short 30 minute test. Mensa was founded in 1946 by Roland Berrill, a barrister and Dr. Lance Ware a scientist and lawyer in England. Their goal which continues to this day is the following:  “Mensa states its purpose as, “to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity, to encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence, and to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.”

Mensa has members in 100 countries, in 7 continents. Their ages range from 3 to 103. They are from all walks of life and educational levels and include janitors, doctors, scientists, artists, actors, carpenters, chemists, politicians, farmers, computer programmers, authors, police officers, hermits, firemen, musicians, the long-term unemployed, educators, millionaires, firefighters, bankers and bus drivers. Members tend to be curious and have widely varying interests. They are quick to grasp concepts. They are often humorous, talkative, quirky, but the only characteristic they share across the board is a high IQ.”

How else can you help your brain health and start the journey to improve your memory.

Herbs and spices have also played an important role in brain health.


  • Sage, this wonderful herb comes fresh, dry or drops. Small studies have shown that it has improved memory in low doses and elevated mood in larger doses. It’s high in anti oxidants and not only supports brain function, it lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
  • Turmeric, this spice contains cur-cumin which has an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Used for thousands of years in Ayurveda, we now can understand its ability to stop nerve cells in the brain from breaking down. This wonderful spice can be found in curry powder or added to soups, casseroles etc., 
  • Ginkgo Biloba, used in Chinese medicine for improving memory. It helps to stimulate blood flow to the brain, which may help with cognitive function. 
  • Ashwagandha. another Ayurvedic herb, which has shown benefits on the brain reducing oxidative stress.
  • Ginseng, a popular Chinese herb used now by some Alzheimers patients as it may reduce beta-amyloid in the brain. Beta amyloid is a protein fragment snipped from an amyloid  precursor protein (APP). … Amyloid plaques are hard, insoluble accumulations of beta amyloid proteins that clump together between the nerve cells (neurones) in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
  • Lemon Balm, used to ease anxiety and insomnia has also been found to improve cognitive function. Study published in the Journal of Neurology, 2003. 
  • Bacon monnieri, used by Ayurvedic practitioners for improving memory, reducing anxiety and treating epilepsy. For example, bacosides, the main active compounds in Bacopa monnieri, have been shown to neutralise free radicals and prevent fat molecules from reacting with free radicals. When fat molecules react with free radicals, they undergo a process called lipid per-oxidation. Lipid per-oxidation is linked to several conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders 


These are some herbs and spices that may help to improve brain function, memory, cognitive function etc., As always these are not the only items to concentrate on. A healthy diet overall and moving the body with plenty of exercise is such an important role in mental health. Harvard Medical School is publishing papers on research being conducted of 150 minutes of exercise a week that is contributing to the health of the brain and mental function. Is it one type of exercise? The answer is no. Aerobic exercise helps blood flow to the brain, however we see improved brain function with those in gentler forms of exercise such as Tai Chi which is about mind body exercise. Find something that you enjoy and get moving, that is the first step. Keep up your nutrition health and may you remain mentally sharp.


Brain: an apparatus with which we think we think,  by  Ambrose Bierce 


Health and Happiness

Karla Walter 

[email protected]

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