2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

For Better Brain + Memory, Remember This

When our patients make a wish list of what they’d like most for their health, maintaining an active, creative, and well-functioning brain always scores near the top.

By the time we hit our 30s, we accept that we may not be the smartest people on the planet. There will always be someone else who grasps nuclear physics, the remote control for your cable TV, or Boolean algebra (and yes you can click there to learn more about it, part of the program I’ll be laying out here to boost your brain power) better and faster than we can. Still, we appreciate our uniqueness and we’ve grown fond of our brains. We definitely don’t want to lose what we’ve spent all these years acquiring.

Brain researchers are increasingly intrigued by the way humans can enhance and preserve brain function. Although some of us (though certainly not all) will experience age-related memory loss, we can definitely slow its progress and we can begin our work right now.

Here are your brain-boosting goals:
Connectivity  You want your brain cells to make more and more internal connections with each other.
More flow, more grey please  You want a healthy flow of blood to your brain, pretty much the opposite of the dreaded hardening of the arteries. If you were to undergo an MRI, you’d want to see lots of grey matter (the functioning part of your brain) and less white matter (signs of scars and brain breakdown).
Neurotransmitters matter  You want to maintain good levels of neurotransmitters, the molecules that chemically allow brain cells to “speak” to each other. These include serotonin, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and dopamine.

For #1, you’ll make more connections by using your brain a lot.
Here’s an example: right now, this very moment, start working your mouse or trackpad with your non-dominant hand. Since most of you are righties, switch to your left. No, your cursor hasn’t vanished. You’ll get used to it. You’ve already made several new brain connections just by trying this, and they’ll be strengthened by keeping it up.

A few other easy tasks to create new brain connections:
• Take a different route to work.
• Brush your teeth with your eyes closed using your non-dominant hand.
• Go to a different grocery.
• Do two tasks at once (walk and smell flowers, read and listen to music).
• Learn new stuff (languages, geography, botany).
• Memorize.

For #2, the two best ways to keep the small blood vessels in your brain wide open so your brain-y grey matter constantly gets the nutrition it needs are:
• Eating a traditional Mediterranean diet (easy, tasty, no big deal).
• Exercising regularly.

This week’s  Archives of Neurology has an article by researchers who tracked patients and their eating habits and made MRIs of their brains (you know where this is going). People of all ages whose food inventories were essentially those of the traditional Mediterranean diet had the very healthiest looking brains, with lots of grey and virtually no white scars.

The relationship between aerobic exercise and brain health was proven years ago and numerous studies from around the world continue to confirm it. A Mayo Clinic study released on February 14, 2012, found that regularly overeating (established at 2,100 calories or more per day) doubled a person’s risk of gradual memory loss over time. Their compelling conclusion: Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be the simplest way to prevent memory loss as we age.

For #3, healthful eating causes your brain to pretty much manufacture all the neurotransmitters it needs for optimal functioning. Conversely, by deliberately depriving the brain of certain nutrients, researchers showed that temporary memory problems could be induced. For example, when placed on a low-tryptophan diet (tryptophan converts to feel-good serotonin in your brain), after four weeks subjects scored lower on memory tests than they had at the outset of the study.

If you feel your brain hasn’t been working optimally and want to add nutritional supplements, consider the following to boost neurotransmitters and brain energy. (This is not, however, a substitute for everything else we’ve discussed here.) Google each of these supplements with the word “memory” and you’ll discover there’s a lot more research than you might have expected:

  • To boost serotonin  Either St. John’s wort 450 mg twice daily or tryptophan 1,000 mg at bedtime.
  • For dopamine and norepinephrine  The amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine are the building blocks of these neurotransmitters. To bolster them, take Brain Energy (Douglas Labs), two caps every morning.
  • For acetylcholine  Citicholine twice a day.
  • For overall enhancement of brain metabolism  Acetyl-L-Carnitine twice daily.

Now, quick quiz. Do you remember the three goals to maintain your healthy brain? Don’t scroll up and peek.

You didn’t remember? You think it might be your diet? Too much TV?

Hmm…put your left hand back to the mouse. You can use your right hand to pull out your hair in frustration.

Be well,

David Edelberg, MD

Leave a Comment


  1. Lenore Urbanski says:

    Hi Dr. E.
    I am interested in knowing about coconut oil. I read that it is useful for dementia, parkinsons and alzheimers. I know that it is all saturated fat. Is this good to take everyday for increasing the memory?

  2. Ann Raven says:

    My mouse wire won’t reach to the left side!

  3. irma flores says:

    Just this morning i emailed in a request about gaucher’s disease, I meant gauchy disease. sorry.

  4. irma flores says:

    phenylalanine is this also good for pain? or do i have this mixed up with another amino?

  5. irma flores says:

    i have hypothyroid, which of these supplements do you suggest for myself? can they all be taken in a day, or would there be one you recommend over another? sorry for all the questions, but I am interested in taking something for brain power.

  6. Dr E says:

    Hi Irma
    I would recommend Brain Energy + Citicholine + Acetyl-L-Carnitine for memory enhancement and support. These can be taken all in the same day. Phenylalanine is mildly helpful for certain types pain (e.g. fibromyalgia) by raising nor-epinephrine. These can be used regardless of thyroid status

  7. Mery Krause says:

    im usng me luft han to tipe this – how me doin??? Gr8 article, Dr. Elderbug

  8. Thom Goetz says:

    I have decided to change my title from Retired to Re-Directed and that would be to focus on me to be the best I can in 4 areas:
    Mindfully
    Physically
    Spiritually
    Emotionally
    Thanks for the tips on the mindful aspect. I will continue to take Piano lessons.
    Thom Goetz

  9. Tettah Fuchs says:

    Very interesting! My mother died of Parkinson’s disease, and I am always looking for something to boost dopamine, since I understand that it is closely linked with the decline in a Parkinson’s patient.
    Thank you for your article.
    Tettah

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Telemedicine – Now Available at WholeHealth Chicago

In order to maintain your continuity of care, WholeHealth Chicago now offers telemedicine appointments with most of our practitioners. During a telemedicine visit, you and your healthcare provider can review medical history, discuss symptoms, arrange for prescriptions, and more. When necessary, labs and diagnostic imaging can be ordered from a facility near your home, and our Natural Apothecary can ship supplements quickly to your door.

Please contact Patient Services for details and scheduling a telemedicine appointment, or to change a regular appointment to telemedicine by calling 773-296-6700.

We’re looking forward to meeting with you in our virtual consultation room soon.

DIAGNOSE-IT-YOURSELF: COVID-19

Far and away, the commonest phone call/e mail I receive asks about COVID-19 diagnosis.
Just print this out, tape it on your refrigerator door, and stay calm.

ALLERGIES

• Runny nose
• Sneezing
• Red, swollen eyes
• Itchy eyes and nose
• Tickly throat
• No fever

COLD
• Runny nose
• Sneezing
• Sore throat
• Mild muscle aches
• Mild dry cough
• Rarely a low fever

STREP THROAT
• Painful sore throat
• Hurts to swallow
• Swollen glands in neck
• Fever

FLU (Standard seasonal flu)
• Fever
• Dry cough (no mucus)
• Sudden onset over few hours
• Headache
• Sore throat
• Fatigue, sometimes quite severe
• Muscle aches, sometimes quite severe
• Rarely, diarrhea

CORONAVIRUS-COVID 19
• Shortness of breath
• Fever (usually above 100 degrees)
• Dry cough (no mucus)
• Slow onset (2-14 days)
• Mild muscle aches
• Mild fatigue
• Mild sneezing

Recent Health Tips

  • Immune Superstar #3: Vitamin C

    –Take 3,000 mg daily in tablet form (three 1,000-mg tablets) OR –2,235 mg powder (one scoop of this powder) OR –1,000 mg liquid (one teaspoon of this ultra-absorbable liquid) **Our staff works tirelessly to source the highest quality products, and because of high demand, specific brands and sizes sell out almost daily. Call our Natural Apothecary at 773-296-6700 for the most up-to-date stock or click Read More

  • Immune Superstar #2: Zinc

    Take zinc picolinate 50 mg daily. We’ve known for decades that the element zinc plays many significant roles in physiology, especially when it comes to the immune system. It’s also true that zinc-deficient individuals are more susceptible to a variety of diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. Zinc is a powerful player It’s involved in maintaining the protective barrier of your skin, respiratory, and gastrointestinal Read More

  • Ibuprofen And Other NSAIDs: Yes or No in the Age of Covid-19?

    The story’s familiar. You have joint aches and pains, a headache, fever, or menstrual cramps and you reach for a bottle of aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). What these drugs have in common is that they belong to a class called NSAIDs—non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Here’s a list of them. NSAIDs are generally safe, typically effective, and inexpensive, and as a chiropractic physician when Read More

Join our Discount Program

Member benefits include 10% off all your purchases. Low, one-time membership fee of $25 ($35 for family).

MORE INFORMATION

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!