The Essential Promemory Diet

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Decrease intake of saturated fats such as red meat, pizza, desserts.

Cook with canola, sunflower, corn, or olive oil, which are all high in "good" unsaturated fats. Fish has high protein and unsaturated fat content, which lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

At least two daily helpings each of fruits and vegetables: citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits; drinking juice instead of eating the actual fruit is okay) and berries are important sources of antioxidants, and green leafy vegetables have essential vitamins.

Maintain your nonalcohol fluid intake of at least three to five glasses of water daily (more if you do heavy exercise).

Take a multivitamin tablet daily to boost the promemory effect of a healthy diet. A multivitamin tablet is a supplement, not a substitute, for a healthy diet! Supplement with vitamin E, consider taking vitamins A and C as well.

A saturated fat-rich diet is the worst dietary culprit. It can lead to memory loss because high cholesterol levels and plaques begin to block the brain's arteries. Eventually, blood clots can lead to ministrokes and cognitive deficits, depending on which specific part of the brain has been damaged. If hippocampal or frontal cortex nerve cells, or the pathways connecting these regions, are destroyed, memory loss is the result. High levels of saturated fats also generate toxic free radicals, which can damage brain cells even further. Lowering saturated fats boosts the antioxidant potency of your diet, which is beneficial for memory and the aging process more broadly. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables will prevent vitamin deficiencies, promote memory, and reduce the risks of cancer, heart attacks, and stroke.

For further details about the components in the promemory diet, refer back to the table in chapter

Vitamin Supplements Are Good for Your Memory

Diet alone can give you only a moderate amount of promemory antioxidants, and supplementation with vitamins is necessary to boost your antioxidant intake for a promemory effect. I describe the role of antioxidant vitamins E, A, and C, as well as other medications, in your Memory Program later in this chapter.

Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise

Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise are good for the heart and brain. Aerobic exercise involves medium-level effort in which the heart rate (pulse) rises on average by thirty to forty beats per minute. More severe exertion raises your heart rate even further and takes you into the anaerobic range, which is difficult to keep up for long. As you grow older, there is a good chance that you will shift from mixed anaerobic/aerobic to pure aerobic activity, tennis to golf. Long walks represent very good aerobic exercise, but with the exception of power walking they do not burn up as many calories as most people think they do.

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