Improving your memory cluding hypertension-performed worse on memory and thinking skills tests than those without these issues. • Hypothyroidism — This dis- ease occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid stimulation hormone (TSH) — causing a slow-down in thought processing that can lead to poor memory. Your doc can check your TSH levels with a blood test if you’re noticing problems. o you sometimes mis- place your keys or walk into a room without re- membering why. That doesn’t mean you have early Alzheimer’s. “Normal memo- ry problems — like being a little for- getful start as early as age 27,” says Majid Fotuhl, MD, chairman of the Neurological Institute for Brain Health in Baltimore and author of “The Memory Cure” Lucky for us, our memory is like a muscle, Dr. Fotuhl says. You can exercise it and improve it at any age. S Suggestions to protect your memory What are the five types of memory • SENSORY — This is your brain’s immediate record of the stimuli from the outside environment- like seeing a traffic light turn green or feeling the shower water get too hot- that helps your body unconsciously re- act in the moment. What you remem- ber becomes short-term memory • SHORT TERM — Information stored for a brief period so we can car- ry out tasks such as reading a phone number and recalling it just long enough to dial. (Also called working memory) • LONG TERM — Facts you’re able to call up after a long period of time, like your childhood address. • PROCEDURAL — Learned memo- ries that you use without even thinking about them, like knowing how to drive or play golf. • EXPLICIT — The ability to remem- ber facts — such as state capitals — and consciously recall them. Not always, but in many instances, stress is to blame when our memory is not functioning up to par. Of course there is no way to get rid of stress or anxiety entirely, but there is something that helps significantly — meditation. A Harvard study found that partici- pants in a group who meditated for about 30 minutes a day over an 8 week period were less likely to fee stressed or 28 Health Matters Betty Sawyer is Ambassador at Legacy Village at Plantation Manor anxious, and were more able to concen- trate on the tasks at hand, thus improv- ing their memory. Four medical problems that affect memory • Sleep apnea — A 2008 study found that sufferers of sleep apnea, which oc- curs when the muscles in your throat, soft palate and tongue relax during sleep, narrowing your airway and wak- ing you up as you gasp for air, showed tissue loss in brain areas that affect memory. • Type 2 diabetes — When the brain gets too much glucose, which is com- mon in people with undiagnosed dia- betes, it has an impact on memory. If you are having memory problems, ask your doctor to check your blood-glucose levels. • Heart Disease — A 2011 French study found that people with a constel- lation of heart disease risk factors known as metabolic syndrome — in- • Work out regularly — exercise increases blood flow to the brain. • Dancing — learning new dance moves can be helpful and fun • Play computer games — games and puzzles force you to exercise your memory. • Join a book club — reading books can cause a decrease in memory loss. Meeting with friends to discuss what you have read is even better. Some of the best brain foods • Salmon — A UCLA study shows di- ets low in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, found in salmon, lead to brain shrink- age. Eat two 6-ounce servings a week. Hate fish? Pop two grams of a DHA supplement a day, Dr. Roizen suggests. • Coffee — Drinking three to five cups a day was associated with about a 65 percent lower rate of developing Alzheimer’s, research shows. (Say “when” at three, though — any more can make you jittery.) • Berries –— Women in Harvard Nurses Health Study who ate the most strawberries and blueberries delayed memory decline for as long as 2.5 years. • Indian food — It’s rich in curcum- in, an antioxidant found in turmeric and cumin that’s been shown to boost memory. Try adding these spices to your meal.