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Brain Health: Hang On to Your Memories

By HERWriter
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Wellness related image Photo Getty Images

Your memory can play tricks on you. Fortunately, research is teaching us more about how memory works -- or doesn't work -- so hopefully we'll be better prepared to avoid some of those tricks.

For women who are nearing menopause, the tricks can be tedious and ongoing to the point where some women are afraid they're losing their minds. The March 16, 2011 edition of globeandmail.com reported that research from the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles sheds light on some of the possible causes for this state of affairs.

Lack of sleep due to uncomfortable perimenopause symptoms like hot flashes, and dramatic changes in hormone levels may be culprits for this particular dirty trick on women.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine reported that astrocytes (a type of brain cell) are very involved in memory formation. Astrocytes release lactate which fuels neurons (another type of brain cells), and lactate levels in the brain rise during the formation of long-term memory.

Their research indicated that a great deal of energy is consumed for long-term memory formation, and glucose is not as efficient in this task as lactate. More research on astrocytes and lactate is planned for the future.

This study was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and was reported on in a March 4, 2011 article on sciencedaily.com.

Fortunately for us we don't have to wait for science to make dramatic forays into greater knowledge about the brain and its ability to remember or its tendency to forget. There are things we can do right now to protect our memories.

That's right, we can have a few tricks of our own up our sleeves. And they are fairly simple, for instance, healthy foods and exercise can shore up our brains, as can memory exercises and stress reducing techniques.

The June 2006 issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry published a UCLA study that supports the implementation of these lifestyle changes.

Diets of participants of the study included antioxidants, low-glycemic carbohydrates and omega-3 fats. Five smaller meals were consumed rather than three larger ones per day.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.