April 30, 2008
Your Brain on Blueberries
So yet another study has come out saying that blueberries and other phytochemical-rich foods are good for your brain. These superfoods are even supposed to be "effective at reversing age-related deficits in memory."
Hooray! I love hearing that the healthy food I make myself eat all the time is really good for me.
But hey... wait JUST one minute.
I eat tons of blueberries and consume boatloads of other phytochemicals. And I exercise and get Omega 3's and do all that good brain stuff. And how good is my memory?
Well, it's not Alzheimer's time yet, but since I hit my mid-forties, I've definitely noticed an ever-increasing tendency to space things out.
Would it be that much worse if I was subsisting on the average American Big Mac and Coke and Twinkie diet? Would I enter and leave and re-enter and re-leave and re-re-enter and re-re-leave a room ten times, instead of five, before I finally recalled what I the heck I was looking for?
(Note: Apologies to you young folks. This post will seem boring and irrelevant. Check back in a few years when you, too, are wandering all around the house trying to recall where you set down your coffee cup only to discover you're actually still carrying the cup in your hand.)
Growing up, I'd heard that people's memories started to decline as they got older. But I thought they meant older older. Like, 80. I had no idea that stuff started slipping so soon.
Of course, if I'd just admit my memory is starting to go down the toilet, then perhaps I'd develop better coping skills. I'd write lists and learn mnemonics and rehearse things and just generally pay more attention. But instead, I just float around like I'm still 20 and don't really try to remember things. I just assume that important information, once heard, will be recalled.
But sometimes, it isn't recalled. It's just gone-- phhht!
It's not just the important stuff, either. It's all kinds of things you used to know. Have you ever sat with a group of middle aged people watching Jeopardy? You could make a whole new game out of it. Every time someone says something like: "I know that! Damn it, I know I know that!"--you all have to eat a handful of blueberries.
But here's the one that bothers me the most: often, I will think I have forgotten to do something. So, for example, I'll drag my sleepy ass out of bed and stumble downstairs at 3 a.m. because I suddenly realize I didn't remember to feed the cat or lock the door or whatever.
But of course I once I'm down there, I discover I did remember to lock the door and feed the cat--I just have no memory of having done it.
Perhaps there are only so many slots for mundane day-to-day memories, and by your mid-forties, most of these are full. I'm sure if I went to feed the cat one evening and discovered she was standing on her hind legs and had sprouted opposable thumbs and was using the can opener to help herself to our tuna supply--well, I'd remember that.
(There are some memory resources here and a lot of products and services out there you can purchase which can help to train your memory. Personally, rather than add yet another set of exercises to my to-do list, I'd rather just forget things and whine about it. Other tips I've seen: get more sleep, magnesium, fish oil, choline, exercise, relaxation, social activity, and sage.)
Is anyone else a bit forgetful sometimes? Any suggestions?