Maintaining Mental Clarity, Focus, and Memory
As people reach the mid-life stage, they start to keep count of the signs of their own mental deterioration. Many of them accept these changes as the inevitable circumstances of getting older, immediately expecting the worst. Medical statistics are continually convincing these people that a mental ailment like Alzheimer’s is waiting for them in their elder years, and that is certainly a legitimate concern. However, others start to make changes in their routines and habits to combat what seems to be happening with their mental acuity. There are several ways that we can all maintain our mental clarity, focus, and memory into our old age.
The food and drink that our bodies and brain use as fuel are probably the single biggest impact on brain performance. Anti-oxidants have been a popular subject for quite some time, although many of the benefits claimed are largely unfounded. Their impact on age-related eye disease however has been positive, aiding in prevention of macular degeneration among those with high risk(1,2).
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are another much more broadly beneficial substance commonly found in fatty fish, vegetable oils as well as some green vegetables and nuts (walnuts), and are fundamental nutrients for health that our bodies don’t produce. This means that these foods are our only source to obtain them. Omega-3 fatty acids assist in controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain, which is why people commonly refer to it as “brain food”. Omega-6 fatty acid is also an essential nutrient for our bodies that we must find in food, and serves to lower “bad” cholestrol (LDL), reduce inflammation, and guard against heart disease. It is important to consume at least one good source of omega-3 and omega-6 once a day as part of your diet.(3)
The body typically needs eight hours of sleep, and this is probably the aid that people most often neglect. Sleep actually is a time when the brain will do the storing of all information from the day. The brain does not require a lot of work on your part, but it will start and continue working, as soon as you fall asleep. When you allow the brain that time to process and store all the day’s information it will have a direct effect on your memory. Stress is also a byproduct of a lack of sleep. It will also be reduced when the proper amount of sleep is achieved. Avoiding stress has always been an aid in mental clarity and focus, as well as in your physical health.
There are many board games and puzzles that people like to play for fun. This fun can turn into a valuable daily exercise that results in keeping the mind sharp. Crossword puzzles are fine, however people should not have to limit themselves to the newspaper delivery of a single type of exercise. Challenging the brain with activities that are totally new to you is the best way to improve mental clarity and focus. Learning a new language, or learning to play an instrument are both great ways to improve mental acuity. The brain does not have to remain stagnant and unproductive, no matter what your age is.
Aerobic exercise has a significant effect on the brain, because of the increased oxygen intake, and circulation of the blood. It is believed that for the brain to function at its best, it’s necessary for us to work out 3 to 4 days a week. These workout sessions should last at least an hour. This also will result in immediate stress relief, and enhance your mental clarity, focus, and confidence.
1. A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001; 119:1417-36.
2. A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E and beta-carotene for age-related cataract and vision loss: AREDS report no. 9. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001; 119:1439-52.
3. Publication: Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Dr. Frank Sacks, Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health.