Senior Health

Here you will find informative articles on the topic of senior nutrition. Topics covered range from senior nutrition and weight loss to the relationship between BMI and quality of life for the elderly.

5 Steps to a Better Memory

The brain is a complex, electrical organ that serves as the epicenter and main hub of the body’s nerve reception and conduction. If you want to build a better memory, you have to build a better brain.


When it comes to learning about your brain, things can get a little heady. The brain is a complex, electrical organ that serves as the epicenter and main hub of the body’s nerve reception and conduction. Without our brain, our heart wouldn’t beat, our lungs wouldn’t breathe, our fingers wouldn’t feel, and we would be unable to smell, taste, or see. Our stomach would stop digesting and our digestive tract would stop moving food through our system. Without the brain, we’d be sunk.

If you want to build a better memory, you have to build a better brain. The brain requires all of the same types of nutrients to survive that most body cells need – like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Nerve cells within the brain also require fat-soluble vitamins and water. They need B-vitamins, vitamin C and choline to grow and reproduce. Brains cells require iron and copper, zinc and manganese – and other minerals that other body cells need, like the electrolytes calcium, potassium, sodium, and phosphorus.

Stimulate Your Brain

We’ve all heard the saying, if you don’t use it, you lose it. This definitely holds true when it comes to our brain. Brain games and teasers, crossword puzzles and memory tricks can all help you gain and maintain your brain power. Try an app for a little brain stimulation, there are apps that serve as brain puzzlers, word searches and spelling challenges like Words with Friends. Trivia or shape games, endless runner games and spatial puzzles can all add a little boost to your brain power.

For Your Best Brain Gain – Go Exercise

Not only is exercise good for your muscles, your figure, your mood, and your cardiovascular heath, it’s also incredibly good for your brain. There is a special molecule within brain cells that is released following exercise – it’s called brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor, or BDNF. This molecule increases synaptic plasticity, and increases survival of neurons in an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory. A study that investigated the brains of young adults showed that those who had higher cardio-respiratory fitness as measured by VO2 max also had larger volumes in the area of the brain associated with memory performance and recognition [1].


Melatonin is often recognized as a sleep hormone, but it also serves as a potent antioxidant in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, and is able to reduce damaging reactive oxygen species within brain cells and protect them from neurodegeneration [2]. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia share some common features, such as oxidative stress and neuroinflammation. Melatonin can help reduce oxidative stress that arises with these conditions [3]. When your brain has reduced chemical stressors, nerves and memory are going to function better, and live longer.

Other uses for melatonin include use as an antioxidant treatment for atopic dermatitis, which is an inflammatory skin disorder causing and itchy rash, redness and irritation of the skin [4]. Dentists and oral surgeons are investigating using melatonin as a mild sedative to help correct anxiety that arises with dental care [5].

Control Your Blood Sugar

If you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or if you have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), it is vitally important that you control your blood sugars, especially if they are elevated. Making sure that you don’t have excess glucose floating around will ensure that the micro-sized blood vessels that supply blood to the brain are not damaged by excess glucose in the bloodstream. Check your blood sugars regularly, such as in the morning before you eat, and again two hours after supper to make sure high blood sugars don’t do any brain damage.

Lose a Little Weight

While you wouldn’t think losing weight would have much effect on how your brain fires, it turns out that losing weight either by following a Paleolithic diet or by standard recommendations, memory performance can improve. The reason? Researchers suspect it most likely it was related to the reduction of free fatty acids (FFAs) within the blood stream as a result of losing weight and reducing waist circumference [6].


[1] Whiteman AS, Young DE, Budson AE, Stern CE, Schon K. Entorhinal volume, aerobic fitness, and recognition memory in healthy young adults: A voxel-based morphometry study. Neuroimage. 2015 Nov 26. pii: S1053-8119(15)01071-X. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.11.049. [Epub ahead of print]

[2] Bavithra S1, Sugantha Priya E, Selvakumar K, Krishnamoorthy G, Arunakaran J. Effect of Melatonin on Glutamate: BDNF Signaling in the Cerebral Cortex of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)-Exposed Adult Male Rats. Neurochem Res. 2015 Sep;40(9):1858-69. doi: 10.1007/s11064-015-1677-z. Epub 2015 Jul 30.

[3] Buendia I1,2, Navarro E1,2, Michalska P1,2, Gameiro I1,2, Egea J1,2, Abril S1,2, López A1, González-Lafuente L1,2, López MG1,2, León R1,2. New melatonin-cinnamate hybrids as multi-target drugs for neurodegenerative diseases: Nrf2-induction, antioxidant effect and neuroprotection. Future Med Chem. 2015 Oct;7(15):1961-9. doi: 10.4155/fmc.15.99. Epub 2015 Oct 23.

[4] Marseglia L, Cuppari C, Manti S, D'Angelo G, Salpietro C, Reiter RJ, Gitto E. ATOPIC DERMATITIS: MELATONIN AS POTENTIAL TREATMENT. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2015 Apr-Jun;29(2 Suppl 1):142-9.

[5] Perez-Heredia M, Clavero-González J, Marchena-Rodríguez L.Use of melatonin in oral health and as dental premedication. J Biol Res (Thessalon). 2015 Nov 19;22:13. eCollection 2015.

[6] Boraxbekk CJ1, Stomby A, Ryberg M, Lindahl B, Larsson C, Nyberg L, Olsson T. Diet-Induced Weight Loss Alters Functional Brain Responses during an Episodic Memory Task. Obes Facts. 2015;8(4):261-72. doi: 10.1159/000437157. Epub 2015 Jul 1.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on January 09, 2016. Updated on May 18, 2016.


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