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Five Ways to Prevent Memory Loss

As you get older, you may be concerned about memory loss, but you can take steps to help prevent it, according to Inna Yaskin, MD, a board certified geriatrician and internist at El Camino Hospital. Here are some memory boosters recommended by Dr. Yaskin and other experts:

1 Get in your workouts. There are several reasons why exercise may benefit your memory, says Dr. Yaskin. For one thing, it reduces the risk of medical conditions that can lead to memory loss, including diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke and depression. “Exercise also decreases your chances or delays onset of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the leading form of dementia,” says Dr. Yaskin.

2 Don’t smoke. “Smoking constricts blood vessels and affects circulation to the brain,” says Dr. Yaskin. Among other things, this can lead to mini-strokes, which can impair memory.

3 Eat a healthful diet. Experts advise you to eat lots of veggies, fruit, nuts, whole grains and fish; opt for poultry instead of red meat; and minimize your intake of saturated fat and trans fats—the same Mediterranean diet that’s advised for heart health. Says Dr. Yaskin: “Anything that affects cardiovascular health— including diet, exercise and smoking—will also affect dementia risk factors.”

4 Stay caught up on your sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to poor concentration and decreased recall of recent events, says Dr. Yaskin.

5 Live and learn. Learning new things actually promotes the growth of new brain cells, says Dr. Yaskin. “Learning a new language or music can be promising in terms of preventing dementia.”

Sources: Harvard Health Publications, Mayo Clinic

This article first appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of the El Camino Hospital Health Beat magazine.