What Was I Saying...? Bigger Brain, Better Memory - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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What Was I Saying...? Bigger Brain, Better Memory

Oct 28, 2014

What Was I Saying...? Bigger Brain, Better Memory 

My niece came prancing into my room one day shrieking, 'Badi Dadi (great-grandmother) forgot my name again!' She was half-amused half-puzzled (the 'how can anybody on earth forget me' puzzlement of the supremely confident 5-year old).

I, on the other hand, frowned with worry. I was not worried that my grandmother seemed to be having bouts of amnesia. I was more worried that I was having them as well.

Have you ever walked into a room looking for something, forgotten what you were there for, and walked out empty-handed? I'd noticed it was happening to me a lot recently. I used to have a spectacular memory, really good for late night exam-cramming, and being an impressive conversation.

Now, more often than not, instead of dazzling people with my amazing ability to recall facts at the drop of a hat I was walking around looking for my specs (they were on my head) and wondering where I left my mobile phone.

Yes, I am sure my memory will eventually shrink, maybe when I'm a great-grandmother, but I am not ready for it yet.

And looking into the issue worried me even more. Several areas of the way I lived my life were not only contributing to the loss of memory, some of them were actually shrinking my brain! Not to mention that short-term memory-loss can progress into Alzheimer's disease, a form of dementia, and one of the saddest afflictions I have ever seen in anyone.

My brain is my favourite part of my body. It's what I use to make my niece laugh, to make my eyes smile, to read books that open up worlds for me, to write letters to you. Without it, I am nothing. So I figured out exactly what I need to do, and not do, to bring my brain back into shape.

Like getting your body in shape, the brain also requires two things: food and exercise.

Brain Food: What to Eat and What Not to Eat

  1. Get Omega 3: What goes into your mouth can really affect what goes on in your brain. I've often heard people refer to fish as 'brain food.' I was never sure whether that was an old wives' thing, like drinking chai makes you darker, and sneezing before leaving the house is bad luck. But I found that oily fish like salmon, tuna, herring, etc. are brain food because of the omega 3 fatty acids they contain. If you eat fish just once each week there is a 60% reduction in the possibility of getting Alzheimers. Maybe Bengalis are brainy for a reason, bring on the hilsa fish...

    If fish is not for you, Omega 3's can be found in other sources such as: flax seeds (just munch on a spoonful of whole seeds; or sprinkle powdered flax in your daals and soups); walnuts; soybeans; eggs; and cauliflowers.

  2. Haldi: Yes, good old turmeric. If you are not already using it in your curries and vegetables, you should do so now. Research shows that a chemical called curcumin in turmeric can boost memory and stimulate the creation of new brain cells. And cooking it with black pepper makes it a thousand times more effective. We are fortunate because it's a part of our food culture already, so let's use that to our advantage.

  3. Lycopene: A powerful antioxidant that protects against memory loss. Research shows that lycopene can protect against free radical damage in cells which can speed up dementia. Tomatoes are the go-to lycopene source, but you can also find it in other pink/peach fruits such as papaya, watermelon, grapefruit, etc.

  4. Flavanols: Don't guilt yourself for your chai breaks - they're helping your brain. I know sometimes my brain doesn't function very well until I've had my morning cup of chai. I say this as a joke, but compounds found in both green and black tea are good for your brain. All tea blocks the destruction of neurotransmitters, green tea especially.

    And so does dark chocolate (and I'm not just saying this to give myself an excuse to eat it - one study showed that 60-year olds who drank flavanol-rich chocolate for three months were functioning at the brain capacity of 30-40 year olds!)

  5. Here's What Not to Eat: Memory killing foods. Anything deep fried. Surprised? Of course you're not, we already know samosas are generally unhealthy (yes, yes, I know, they are still yummy... once in a while though, ok?). Also most processed foods - things from packets that may have preservatives can send toxins to your brain; foods high in saturated fats such as cheese; and also avoid anything with nitrates such as beer. So beer belly is not your main reason to cut down anymore.

Brain Training: Exercise Your Brain

  1. Learning something new keeps your brain size intact. Your brain actually starts shrinking sometime after you hit your thirties, and just keeps getting smaller after that. But you can keep your brain size, by learning! So take a class, pick up a new language, start playing chess, play a musical instrument, your brain will thank you.

  2. Keep your brain busy: Challenge your brain to keep it sharp. Mental activity of all kinds powers up your brain. They say that having conversations with children help their brain to develop faster, and that is true for adults as well. Engage in stimulating conversations and talk to new people to boost your brain. Other activities such as riddles, Sudoku and other brain teasers keep your brain in shape. Lumosity is an amazing free brain training app that you can use everyday to challenge and grow your brain - and people of all generations can play Lumosity games.

  3. Yoga: A double whammy in the brain game. Yoga, as we Indians have always known and the world has recently discovered, is brilliant. It doesn't just stretch our bodies, it stretches our brains as well, helping in two ways - the physical exercise can help to generate new brain cells; and its stress-relieving effects can prevent loss of brain cells. Pranayama, or yogic breathing, is particularly effective for the latter.

  4. Sleep enough: That's when your brain works best. Our brains don't sleep when we sleep - they work to assimilate everything that's happening in our lives, without the distractions of our lives. Adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night to perform at their cognitive best.

  5. Don't multitask! Unless you want a smaller brain. Research now shows that multitasking makes you stupider, specifically media multitasking where you are looking at multiple screens/devices at the same time. One University of London study shows that this can actually reduce your IQ (intelligence quotient) by ten points. I am all about the 'watch TV AND send emails AND write newsletters' type of multitasking. But I love my brain too much and this research is hopefully going to change my ANDs to ORs - focus on one thing at a time!
With the advances in medicine, we are now living longer than ever before. To enjoy that longer life you need a brain that lets you live fully - lets you stay independent, keep learning, keep working ... and most importantly, play with your grandchildren.

You can stay young your whole life if your brain is in shape. So don't just nod at these ideas in agreement, and then move on. These are all easy doable steps that will make a marked difference in your brain functioning.

If you don't believe me, try this now:

Sit up straight, close your eyes, and take one deep breath counting up to five. Then release that breath slowly counting to ten, and open your eyes.

Big improvements don't take as much time or effort as we think. Did this one deep breath clear your head, untie your knots, and calm your stress? Then that's all it takes.

Image Source: Lightspring/Shutterstock.com


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28 Responses to "What Was I Saying...? Bigger Brain, Better Memory"

Robert Lawrence

05 Nov, 2016

The article was very useful. What was the big plus is that all remedies given are easy to do and food items mentioned are not very expensive but are available at any Indian kitchen. Thanks for sharing

sanjay chaudhari

29 Jul, 2016

Excellent !.........very informative and Eye opener. Thank you so much!!!

Satyadev Verma

26 Jul, 2015

I m 69,practicing about 90% of these,don't have any ailment, fully active.Not experienced fatigue or tiredness.So any one can follow these & enjoy a happy life. I shall put in practice remaining 10% now on. Thank U !


17 Jul, 2015


Kishor Thakker

02 Jan, 2015

my age is 75. Forgetting Things and Discussion It has become Hurdles in my daily life......Honestly ,is it a sign of Departing Life?

Like (1)

kirit shah

24 Dec, 2014

My self kt shah My brother is suffring from elziemer dieses sinces 2010 .dr sayes ,no any madicine For this. Would y help me ? Please anser me.

Shrinivas Moghe

23 Dec, 2014

I liked the article. Worth following the tips! I have always seen my mother (84 running!) solving sudoku from Marathi news papers. Her Pooja ritual is nothing but recitations of various shlokas. She has been my inspiration for how to lead our later part of life. Always she is ready to travel within her limits. For good theater shows, good movies, she is always 'yes'. Composing poems on occasions, is what she likes to do. Your article has added a push for me. Thanks!

Like (2)

pravin vanjare

10 Nov, 2014

what a useful read. I always eagerly await for common sense articles


03 Nov, 2014

Timely reminder to elders as well as youngsters to keep the brains young. Nicely written with humor and seriousness. keep it up Anisa..

Like (1)

O. Shareef

02 Nov, 2014

I am 71 years and beginning to experience most of the symptoms of memory getting weak . This article is very timely for me to follow the advice of the writer and reduce memory problems due to my advancing age. Thanks a lot for giving extremely useful information. .


02 Nov, 2014

It's a wonderful article Anisha.

Brig Sanjay Agarwal

01 Nov, 2014

Congrats Anisa, for a well drafted, concise article. May follow it up with information on, and links to various brain exercises, puzzles and games. They are fun, doable by most people, and with the proliferation of smartphones - a good way to spend "waiting time". Helping the elderly cope with life's challenges is a growing market.


31 Oct, 2014

An excellent article & very informative which would be worth reading & interesting to all. I do propose Ms.Anisa to please continue writing of this sort of articles for the upliftment of Mankind. God Bless You. Regards. Shyamal Dey Biswas,Management Consultant.


31 Oct, 2014

Great article Anisa!!! Will start growing my brain by saying NO to multitasking which I thought was my forte. You're right about lumosity and sudoku. They do help!!!

ravi Katari

31 Oct, 2014

What a timely article. Much of it known already but forgotten ! Will get hoing now ! Thanks loads.


30 Oct, 2014

Very informative article. The figure shown on memory loss is excellent and thought provoking.Wise people will definitely follow your guidance to keep their brain young and active.Well done Anisa.


30 Oct, 2014

It is like a tonic for the Brain to keep healthy and fit. Thanks Anisha for such a hard work to the community .

CK Swarnkar

30 Oct, 2014

Very good article , Any one take advantage. Thank you very much .


29 Oct, 2014

well written Anisha !


29 Oct, 2014

It is an excellent article and the requirement of MEMORY improvement is felt quite often appears to be the need of the hour, and now we have an authentic inputs on the same and the solutions are quite accessible and doable. Once again ,thank you very much


29 Oct, 2014

Absolutely practical & extremely useful to each of us in an era of longer lifespans! I will do my best to implement all that has been so incisively advised by Anisa for a active & rich old age!! Kudos, Anisa...keep up the excellent work!!!


29 Oct, 2014


v k jain

29 Oct, 2014

simply wonderful

Sam George

28 Oct, 2014

Kindly quote the research evidences against the advises. Thanks


28 Oct, 2014

"Bigger Brain Better Memory"the edition is pure oxygen for those who facing problem of loss of memory and will help the every indl who want to improve their memory.the way it is told to make memory sharp or more better it is unmatchable. I appeal every one to follow this tips meticulously.I extend my sincere thanks to Anisa Virji for this fabulous edition.


28 Oct, 2014

Yes, your message on retaining Brain Power was superb-being 81+ I read it closely.By the way,I understand that gluten from wheat products-rotis,parathas, bakery stuff/biscuits etc are harmful(Google Search :Gluten-effect on Brain or Memory) I have stopped taking these foods and feeling fine.What is your opinion please.Also it seems Ghee from cow/buffalo milk is OK-i want to start on this.


28 Oct, 2014

Very well written, simple to understand and extremely useful article. Thank you very much.


28 Oct, 2014

Nice article. ..simply superb...


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