Learn another language, and your brain will be more resilient to the ravages of aging in particular, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and possibly Parkinson’s. Scientist’s have found that, over time, those regularly speaking more than one language appear to strengthen skills that boost the brain’s so-called cognitive reserve, a capacity to work well even when stressed or damaged. Researchers stress that knowing two or more languages won’t help you dodge the bullet of getting Alzheimer’s or dementia, but the extra reserve is like having an extra gas tank-it will run a little farther before it (the brain) runs out of fuel.

Other interventions hold promise too. Physical and mental challenges like learning dance or yoga or fencing also may promote the same changes. Check out the Wall Street Journal’s issue on 10/12/10 for more info.

Four herbs stimulate brain cells as well as taste buds according to a recent article in the Arizona Republic by Karen Fernau. The herbs are turmeric, cumin, rosemary, and sage-not quite the Simon & Garfunkel tune.

Turmeric is the most promising of all the memory spices, and is something that I take every day. It’s a super anti-inflammatory, and also protects the brain against oxidative damage that may contribute to Alzheimer’s and dementia. India has more than one billion people, yet have one of the lowest incidences of Alzheimer’s in the world. Enough said. Rosemary is a powerful antioxidant, and a recent study indicated that just the scent of rosemary improved the memory of office workers. I grow it and use it in a variety of dishes and salads.

Sage shows signs of supporting cognitive function in those with healthy minds as well as those with serious forms of memory loss. Sage appears to work along the same pathways as some of the drugs used for dementia. Research indicates Sage  helps the mind stay calm and alert.

Cumin has been used in Indian cooking for at least 5000 years, and research shows that it helps improve memory and speeds up recovery from amnesia.

No one has reported any side-effects from their use.  Food is Medicine!

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.


Stay well