Leave it to one of America’s best-selling physician/authors to tackle one of the country’s fastest-growing health concerns. With over 77 million baby boomers living in the U.S., memory loss is quickly becoming a major issue. Although the common belief is that these irritating lapses in the ability to remember are a normal part of aging, current scientific research indicates otherwise. In fact, there are a number of reasons these lapses can occur. The good news is that once we understand why, we can actually restore and even strengthen our mental acuity. In her new book, What You Must Know About Memory Loss and How You Can Stop It, Dr. Pamela Wartian Smith explains why we forget things and what we can do to not only reverse the problem, but also enhance our ability to focus, concentrate, and comprehend.
Dr. Smith begins by discussing why it is important not to simply accept memory loss as a normal part of aging. She then presents an in-depth look at the most common causes of these lapses in memory—nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, toxic overload, poor blood circulation, and lack of physical and mental exercise. She begins each section with a questionnaire to determine if the test taker’s memory may be affected by that particular cause. The author then details how that cause is involved in impaired memory, as well as a host of other mental issues ranging from insomnia to personality changes. Dr. Smith follows each discussion with a list of proven remedies to correct each issue. Also included in the book is a special section on recognizing and dealing with severe memory loss.
While the pharmaceutical companies continue to look for that one “magic bullet” to reverse memory loss, the fact is that there are numerous scientifically valid treatments available to address this growing concern. Dr. Smith empowers her readers to avoid an unnecessary part of aging by offering simple and effective solutions.
Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH, MS, is a diplomate of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Physicians and co-director of the Master's Program in Medical Sciences, with a concentration in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine, at the Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida. An authority on the subjects of wellness and personalized medicine, Dr. Smith is also the founder of the Fellowship in Anti-Aging, Regenerative, and Functional Medicine. Currently, she is the owner and director of the Center for Personalized Medicine, with locations in Michigan and Florida.
At one point or another, most of us have experienced some form of memory loss. You forget where you left your cell phone, you open the refrigerator but suddenly can’t remember what it was you were going to take out, or you can’t recall the name of that great restaurant you visited last week! These little lapses are normal—and as we get older, these moments seem to become more common for most of us. This can be very frustrating, as our cognitive abilities are critical to making us who we are.
The fact is, aging can and does have an impact on our ability to remember. Fortunately, science has shown that most types of memory loss and cognitive impairment can be successfully treated, reversed, and even prevented. In the last thirty years, medical researchers have greatly ramped up their studies in this area. Scientists have investigated the factors that drive all forms of memory loss—from normal age-related memory impairment to dementia—and they have also looked at older individuals who have aged without losing their mental acuity. As a result, we have at our disposal a new wealth of information on memory loss. How can we put this information to work? What can we do to keep our minds sharp and accurate throughout our lives?
What You Must Know About Memory Loss & How You Can Stop It has reviewed thousands of studies to provide you with the most prevalent causes of memory loss and to offer real solutions to this growing problem. While the science behind many of these studies is complex, I have done my best to summarize each idea in plain English. Where scientific jargon must be used, it is accompanied by a clear explanation. In dealing with dementia and other related memory- robbing diseases, I have provided the most current information available. If you or your doctor wishes to look into any specific issues in more detail, I encourage you to consult the References section in the back of the book; there, I have cited the most important studies used for the material in each chapter. My hope is to show you that solutions to memory loss are within your grasp.
The book begins by presenting you with the fundamentals you will need in order to understand why memory loss happens. Chapter 1 outlines the basic parts of the brain, detailing their functions in forming and maintaining memory. It also provides a general overview of the different types of memory and the three major categories of cognitive impairment.
The book is then divided into two parts. The purpose of Part I is to familiarize you with some of the most common sources of memory loss. Each chapter in Part I discusses a different factor that can potentially contribute to cognitive decline: cardiovascular disease, heavy metal poisoning, hormonal imbalance, inflammation, and insomnia are among the worst offenders. Every chapter is preceded by a questionnaire that will help you recognize whether the condition discussed within might be affecting you. If it is, you will want to read further. You will learn about the symptoms, causes, and risk factors of that condition, and then you will find out how it is typically diagnosed and treated.
Part I also includes a chapter on dementia, the most severe form of memory loss. Currently, most forms of dementia are considered to be both unpreventable and nonreversible—that is, they cannot be avoided or cured. Still, there are many things you can do to treat the symptoms and even minimize your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. As research is ongoing, my intent is to give you the most up-to-date information available so that you will be aware of your options in managing these devastating and increasingly common diseases.
While Part I discusses specific problems that cause memory loss, Part II serves as a more general guide to memory maintenance and enhancement. Each of the first five chapters in Part II features a lifestyle factor that is critical to keeping your mind in peak condition: physical activity, mental activity, sleep, stress management, and diet. By getting more sleep and exercise, keeping your mind active, minimizing your stress, and eating a wholesome diet, you will be better able to stave off any cognitive decline. You may even feel quicker and more alert! In addition, you might want to try adding a nutritional supplement to your daily routine. The last chapter provides a summary of the nutritional supplements shown to be most effective in improving your recall and focus. Although there is no “miracle drug” that will magically make you the intellectual equivalent of Albert Einstein, the supplements discussed in Chapter 13 have been shown to produce modest but significant benefits for those who consume them.
It really is possible to keep your mind sharp and focused throughout your lifespan, but it will not happen without a commitment on your part. In picking up this book, you have taken the important first step toward optimizing your cognition and memory. Now it’s time to take the next steps. To find out how to make the most of your brain and take care of it for years to come, continue reading!