Improve your memory.

Q. I am 43, with two teenagers and work with my husband who is a photographer. Life can be pretty stressful and I do my best to keep fit by attending a local gym twice weekly. Recently I have noticed that my memory is deteriorating and sometimes my speech is muddled. I am concerned that I may be in the early stages of dementia – and wonder if there are any alternatives to help improve brain functioning. Mrs R. Denning. County Kildare. Ireland

A. I have received many similar letters from anxious readers. If its any consolation I often have trouble with my memory especially when I have a lot on my mind – so you are not alone. Meanwhile, low blood sugar is a common cause of poor memory and brain function, which is exacerbated by eating excessive refined foods high in sugar- such as cakes, biscuits and snack bars (especially snacks containing wheat), or going too long without a sensible meal. The best way to help control your blood sugar is to eat a low sugar breakfast cereal, such as porridge and eat small healthy snacks throughout the day, whilst taking 200mcg of the mineral chromium which helps balance blood sugar. Stress also depletes the body of vital nutrients and alters brain chemistry – and if you note when your memory is worse – I’ll bet you’ll find it’s when you are under pressure or after a wheat based meal . Your trips to the gym will help reduce the stress, but as the brain needs a good supply of oxygen- try also walking for 30 minutes daily on the days when you cannot get to the gym. Oily fish contains the important brain nutrients DMAE (di-methyl-amino-ethanol), DHA- an essential fat, and Phospholipids- which all help to enhance memory, improve learning and mood. Therefore eat oily fish twice weekly or take a 1 gram fish oil daily, from Bio Care  0121 433 3727 .

An important phospholipid called phosphatidyl choline is found in lecithin granules, which you can sprinkle over your breakfast cereal, but make sure you buy lecithin containing at least 40% of phosphatidyl choline. To properly utilise these nutrients your body also needs vitamin B – especially pantothenic acid (B5) and niacin (B3), which also helps to reduce stress within the body – therefore include a good quality B complex and 100mg of B5 and 50mg of B3 in your daily regime. Another phospholipid- phosphatidyl serine (PS) – also found in small quantities in lecithin is causing quite a stir in scientific circles and seventeen double blind trials using a concentrated form of PS, have shown to improve memory and mood, learning and concentration levels. You can take 100mg of the PS daily – a/v from most health stores and good pharmacies. If after two months on this regime there is no improvement, have a thorough check up with your GP. Alternatively try 100mg of standardised extract of the herb Ginkgo daily – known to improve micro circulation. Remember the phrase ‘use it or lose it’ and this definitely applies to the brain…