Q: I’m 50-something, and want to keep my brain sharp, stop my memory fading, and prevent Alzheimer’s if possible. Can anything help?
A: Although there are no guarantees, there is increasing evidence that simple lifestyle shifts can help cut the risk of a fading memory, brain slowdown and even dementia, say nutritionist and mental health expert Patrick Holford and co-author Jerome Burne in their latest book The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing (Piatkus, £14.99*). It is‘a brilliant guide to making the right choices about ageing well’, according to Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance.
Take a vitamin B supplement. Research at Oxford University showed that reducing high levels of homocysteine, a protein in the brain linked to cognitive decline, dementia and heart disease, with high-dose B vitamins helped prevent mild age-related memory loss. Try Viridian High Twelve B Complex, £14.70.
Also take vitamin D. Low levels of the ‘sunshine vitamin’ are linked to cognitive decline in the elderly; deficiency is common. Try D Lux 1000 Spray by Better You, £7.15.
Eat fish: the omega-3 fats found in oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, sardines and herrings) reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s by a ‘whopping 60 per cent’ in one study, and showed clear improvement in learning and memory function in those with mild memory loss. Eggs are good brain food too. For an omega-3 supplement, try MorDHA Smart Fats by Minami Nutrition, £26.50.
Eat a Mediterranean-style, low-GI (glycaemic index) diet. Lots of fresh vegetables, salads and fruit (especially red and purple berries), plus some protein (vital at breakfast), with little refined food (white flour, sugar and processed grains) stabilise blood sugar so you make less insulin. Research shows people with high insulin levels have the greatest memory decline. Eating like this also keeps you lean, a key factor in anti-ageing.
Drink antioxidant-rich green or white tea, a little red wine, and limit coffee to one or at most two cups daily (it raises homocysteine).
Take regular aerobic exercise: it’s proven to keep your brain sharp.
Learn and use two languages to enhance mental flexibility.
Have a goal in life: having a strong purpose is linked to a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment, slower rate of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
A NATURAL REBALANCING ACT
For a recent very debilitating attack of food poisoning, pharmacist Shabir Daya sent me Mega Probiotic-ND, £18.50, an all-natural supplement that helps rebalance the flora of the digestive tract on its own or alongside other treatments, such as antibiotics; plus B12 Boost Pure Energy Oral Spray, £11.95, which does what it says. These are indispensable aids to have at hand; the sooner you take them, the sooner you get better.
EXCLUSIVE OFFER: THE DUCHESS BUZZ
Even if you’re not flying first class this summer, you can give yourself the royal treatment with a special in-flight kit containing one of the Duchess of Cornwall’s top skincare secrets – the Bee Venom Mask created by facialist Deborah Mitchell, who has treated the duchess’s skin for years with her cult natural range Heaven.
Camilla recommended the organic mask to the Duchess of Cambridge to ensure a glowing complexion. Described as a natural alternative to Botox, it features bee venom to tighten and firm facial muscles by boosting collagen production, plus soothing manuka honey and moisturising shea butter (it tingles slightly as you apply it).
The Heaven Flight Kit also contains Vanilla Pod Hand & Nail Cream (15ml), Hydro Cleansing Milk (25ml) to seal the skin against moisture loss, Peppermint Clarifying Lotion (25ml) to prevent dehydration, and Heaven Scent (25ml), based on patchouli, cedarwood, neroli and orange to soothe in-flight nerves. The Heaven Flight Kit costs £64, and as an exclusive offer for YOU readers, Heaven will include a free Overnight Success (15ml), worth £26.20, with the first 250 orders while stocks last. This bestselling anti-ageing moisturiser nourishes the skin with oxygen, vitamins and sandalwood, to leave you looking and feeling radiant after your flight.
To order, visit heavenskincare.com and quote ref you0712 or tel: 01952 462505
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Eating for Two (Ebury Press, £12.99*)
Annabel Karmel MBE is the queen of authors on cooking and nutrition for babies and children. Now she has written the book she wanted when she was pregnant. Eating for Two offers advice and recipes for expectant mums. There are tips for avoiding morning sickness, insomnia, heartburn and anaemia, plus a great section on freezer meals for when your baby arrives.