Eat Right, Sleep Right, Keep Your Memory

It's not exactly new.  We've known for some time that exercise and crossword puzzles can slow down, or defeat, Alzheimer's.  But now a new study has found that a healthy lifestyle can improve memory, even under 40.

I've been getting worse and worse at remembering things (though I'm well past 40!).  I walk into a room and say, "Now, what did I come in here for?"  Fortunately, I have a son, who, once he stops snickering, says, "Your keys, Mom."

But there are ways to improve -- or sustain -- your memory Cathy Payne at USA Today writes, "Healthy eating, not smoking, and exercising regularly were linked to better self-perceived memory abilities."  Even those engaging in just one healthy behavior -- across all age groups -- were 21% less likely to report memory problems than those who didn't.

And it's not just us aging Baby Boomers complaining about memory.  A shocking 14% of those from 18 to 39 also have problems with it (though stress may play a role here), along with 22% of adults 40-59, and 26% of those 60-99, according to Payne.

But a healthy lifestyle -- eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising -- really seems to help.  "Along with the other healthy behaviors, it's likely that healthy eating is helping keep the heart and blood vessels healthy," Mary Ann Johnson, national spokeswoman for the not-for-profit American Society for Nutrition, told Payne. "The brain needs a healthy blood supply to function."

Johnson notes that protecting our memories "isn't just for older adults. We think of losing one's memory as late in life, but it is a very long process that has been playing out over decades," she told Payne.

While memory problems in younger adults can be somewhat common, doctors do suggest that severe memory loss should be checked by a medical professional.


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