natural memory protection

  1. Get fit to protect memory

    Sound mind and body

    Get  fit, and stay sharp at the same time -- because exercise is as good for the brain as it is for the body.

    If you get fit now, and stay fit in the years to come, you can expect to do 25 percent better on memory tests by the time you hit 80, according to one new study.

    That means simple exercise could hold the key to beating cognitive decline and perhaps even preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

    Now, this isn't exactly new, as other studies have found a link between good fitness and good brain health. But what makes this new study so unique is that it didn't rely on volunteers to estimate their own fitness levels or guess how much time they spent exercising each week.

    No, they actually put everyone on a treadmill to see how far and how fast they could run, walk or jog before running out of breath. It's a way of measuring the oxygen capacity of the lungs -- and a great way to measure overall cardiovascular health and physical fitness.

    And those who were the most fit had better memory protection over the course of the seven-year study.

    Part of the reason is that good circulation means blood and oxygen reach the brain more easily -- and your brain uses around 20 percent of the blood and 25 percent of the oxygen circulating in your body.

    But the benefits almost certainly run deeper when you get fit, with other studies showing beneficial changes in the brain itself in people who get regular exercise.

    So if you've been getting regular exercise, great job -- and be sure to keep it up. If you haven't, it's not too late to get fit.

    But don't stop there when it comes to brain health.

    Memory loss, cognitive decline and dementia can all be caused or worsened by anything from nutritional and hormonal problems to metals exposure -- and in many cases, these problems can be corrected naturally.

    I recommend working with a skilled holistic physician. And for complete testing and all-natural brain protection in the Southern California area, make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

    Not in the area? Not a problem! I'm also available for telephone consultations. Call 855-DOC-MARK for more information or to schedule your own call.

    PS -- If Season's Greetings have once again turned into Season's EATINGS at your house it's not too late to do something about it. Green tea can give your metabolism the extra support it needs to help you manage your weight and avoid those dreaded holiday pounds. Click here to find out how you can put centuries worth of traditional use to work for you.

  2. The health benefits of chocolate preserve memory

    Cocoa improves memory, restores blood flow to the brain

    Like the rest of your body, your brain is thirsty for blood -- and when it doesn't get what it needs, it starts to slip. That sets the stage for memory loss and even dementia.

    But there's one way you might be able to restore some of that blood flow that you wouldn't expect, and that's with a little chocolate.

    Yes, chocolate!

    In a new study on the health benefits of chocolate, 60 seniors were given one of two types of chocolate drinks and told to have two cups a day -- and no other chocolate -- for a month.

    One group got a cocoa drink rich in the flavanols that are believed to hold the key to at least some of the health benefits of chocolate, while the other got a cocoa drink with lower levels of those flavanols.

    In seniors with healthy brains, the drink didn't make much of a difference.

    But a third of the seniors in the study were suffering from reduced blood flow to the brain -- and for them, the chocolate drinks make a world of difference, boosting the flow of blood to the brain by 8.3 percent and improving their memory at the same time.

    This wasn't a minor improvement, either. At the start of the study, it took them an average of 167 seconds to complete a memory test.

    But after a month of chocolate, they needed just 116 seconds -- an improvement of nearly a third.

    If that's not enough of a reason to feel a little less guilty when you indulge in this guilty pleasure, the health benefits of chocolate may also protect the heart, lower your blood pressure, reduce insulin sensitivity and even lower your risk of diabetes.

    You'll find big benefits in both milk chocolate and dark chocolate -- but darker chocolates are a bit better since they contain more antioxidants and less sugar.

    But the real issue isn't choosing between dark chocolate and milk chocolate. It's in setting limits -- because many people overdo it when it comes to this sweet treat.

    Personally, I think the two cups of hot chocolate a day in the study is probably a little much -- and hot chocolate contains more than a few extra ingredients you don't want.

    If you want maximum health benefits of chocolate with minimum junk, stick to a square or two of a quality chocolate each day.

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