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Brain "Boot Camp" Relieves Forgetfulness, Improves Memory

June 23, 2004 | 18,257 views

Have you found yourself searching for where you left your car keys more frequently lately or have you missed appointments because you forgot you scheduled them?

One woman, 43-year-old Kimberly McClain, became increasingly irritated with herself because of her growing inability to remember simple daily tasks in her life. McClain’s memory problems were restored to razor-like sharpness after she attended a two-week program designed to boost brain functioning.

The memory program, created by Gary Small, a psychiatrist and director of the UCLA Center on Aging, integrated components from the following four areas: nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and memory-enhancing activities.

Characteristics of the Program

  • The diet in the program includes a high intake of foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids and plenty of fruits and vegetables. The diet also centers on eating three meals and three snacks a day.
  • Light stretching, walking and stress-relieving exercises are performed many times throughout the day.
  • Memory exercises are practiced for around 15 minutes a day.

A study evaluated 17 volunteers who experienced minor memory problems. Eight of the study participants were randomly chosen to take part in the two-week "brain boot camp" program while the other participants went on with their lives as usual.

Results from brain scans, which were taken before and after the participants completed the program, showed dramatic improvement with brain activity in the frontal portion of the brain, which is responsible for daily memory functions.

Those who participated in the program also reported a definite decrease in forgetfulness over those who didn’t take part in the program.

Some experts stated the results of the study weren’t foolproof evidence that a person who completed the program wouldn’t develop Alzheimer’s disease. On the contrary, supporters of the program claimed that keeping your brain stimulated could help delay memory problems. Researchers also stated the four lifestyle components that contributed to dementia were high-fat diets, little physical activity, stress and lack of mental stimulation.

Recommendations for future studies included performing studies with a larger number of people and focusing on one of the four components of the study to determine if some were more effective than others in helping improve memory.

In another study, it was discovered that the systolic blood pressure reading of those who participated in the program dropped by seven points. Research has shown a connection between normal blood pressure levels and the postponement of Alzheimer’s disease.

USA Today June 7, 2004


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

As it says in the article, Gary Small, a psychiatrist and director of the UCLA Center on Aging has developed a program for improving memory that combines four elements: a special diet, daily physical activity, stress release, memory exercises. The principles are explained in detail in his new book "The Memory Prescription."

The diet is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for health for a variety of reasons, fruits and vegetables, with three meals and three snacks a day. Staying in shape, challenging your mind and eating a nutritious diet are definitely important in keeping your mind sharp, especially as you age.

You may also be interested in my past article that lists five foods that will specifically help you to increase your mental clarity and ability to think.

The program is certainly an inexpensive and simple approach that is easy to implement for those who struggle with memory challenges.

Interestingly enough, the program follows the basis of my vision, which focuses on treating the physical body and emotional health. Nourishing your emotional, mental and spiritual self is as essential to your health and healing as proper nutrition.

Further, after long and ongoing research into many approaches and products in the area of memory and concentration, I have found a remarkably effective and efficient (and very affordable) way to help you achieve higher concentration and clarity levels.

The Focus CD, which I recommend to my patients, works by training your brain to work at higher levels of consciousness and guides the mind to an enhanced attentive and focused state.

By incorporating a good nutrition program, exercise and these concentration strategies you will be on the way to maintaining optimal levels of physical health and emotional well-being.

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