Memory Enhancers

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Wouldn’t it be great if someone made Miracle-Gro for your brain? “Drink this twice a day and you’ll feel great and have a terrific memory!” Nice promise, right?

That’s a lot like what hormones do. When the various glands and organs that produce these chemical messengers—the pancreas, thyroid, adrenals and more—are in sync, you have a secure sense of wellbeing. But when they’re not and levels of hormones are either too low or too high, you can feel pretty lousy. And because the brain is in such close communication with hormones—signaling their release and being affected by them—differences in the amounts produced can easily cause brain fog and mood problems.

Although there are literally hundreds of hormones in the body that affect the brain, seven of the most important are thyroid, cortisol, DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and insulin. Take estrogen: Women naturally cycle through rising and falling levels of estrogen right up to and past menopause, when estrogen drops off and cognitive function wanes. Or thyroid: Between 5 and 25 percent of the world’s population, men and women, are thought to have thyroid problems.

Why not make sure your hormones are at optimal levels so that your brain and memory are in top condition—throughout your life?

Risks of Hormone Imbalance

Neurohormonal deficiencies are a key risk factor, says Dr. Daniel Amen in his book Memory Rescue, who identifies and treats the eleven (11) risk factors that can steal your memory and your mind. Research underscores that addressing all of them is the best way to keep your memory strong.

Here are all eleven risks, summed up by Dr. Amen using the apropos acronym Bright Minds:

  • B – Blood Flow

  • R – Retirement/Aging

  • I – Inflammation

  • G – Genetics

  • H – Head Trauma

  • T – Toxins

  • M – Mental Health

  • I – Immunity/Infection Issues

  • N – Neurohormone Deficiencies

  • D – Diabesity

  • S – Sleep Issues

Detecting Hormone Imbalance

You’ll want to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to have the levels of various hormones measured, including:

  • Thyroid panel (includes TSH, Free T3, Free T4 and thyroid antibodies; ask for the lab’s standards to know what its normal range is)

  • DHEA (normal levels differ according to age and sex)

  • Cortisol

  • Free and total serum testosterone (for men and women)

  • Estrogen and progesterone (for women)

  • Zinc

Correcting Hormone Imbalance

To keep the production of your hormones in sync, it helps if you:

  • Avoid hormone disruptors like BPAs, phthalates, parabens and pesticides

  • Lift weights to boost testosterone

  • Consider hormone replacement with bio-identical hormones, when necessary

  • Take a good multivitamin/mineral, vitamin D, magnesium and an omega-3 EPA/DHA supplement daily (recent research underscores the link between DHA, estrogen production and brain health)

  • Consider supplementing with zinc (to boost testosterone), l-tyrosine (for thyroid), DHEA, probiotics and ashwagandha (for cortisol)

  • Boost estrogen with fiber, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, beans, garlic, yams, foods rich in vitamins C and Bs, beets, parsley, anise seed, red clover, licorice hops, sage

  • Increase thyroid with selenium-rich foods like seaweed and sea vegetables, brassicas and maca

  • Boost testosterone with pomegranate, olive oil, oysters, cocont, brassicas, garlic

  • Avoid sugar and animal meats raised with hormones or antibiotics, as these can disrupt your hormones.

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