The memory problems that linger after surgery

We all experience those moments from time to time — a forgotten name, a hazy memory, misplaced keys…

But according to a recent study, if you’re middle aged and have undergone surgery in the last few years, you may experience greater cognitive decline.

Published February 2018 in the journal, Anaesthesia, the study showed that 18% of subjects who’d had surgery in the last four years experienced a decline in immediate memory.

The number of operations was also associated with a reduction in immediate memory, and longer cumulative operations were associated with a decline in working memory.

Though preliminary, these findings call to question the long-term neurological effects of anesthesia used during surgery and its overall impact on health and wellness. Luckily there are a number of ways to support cognitive health and reduce the chances of memory decline, whether related to surgery, health condition, age, stress, or other factors that can impact brain and neurological health…

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1. Improve Diet and Digestion

A nutrient dense diet and healthy digestion are at the core of long term vitality. Nutrition affects every system in the body, but especially the brain. Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example, has long associated cognitive power with strong digestion. More recently, researchers have found an abundance of neuropeptides (molecules that transmit brain signals), in the gastrointestinal tract, and have also shown that the beneficial bacteria in our GI tracts influence brain health, mood and much more. Overall, healthy digestion is a complex process of assimilation and organization, much like the way the brain “digests” information.

One issue linking diet and memory loss is chronic inflammation. Of all the factors that influence inflammation, diet has the most direct impact. A number of nutrient-dense foods with specific anti-inflammatory qualities, such as green vegetables, sprouted grains and legumes, healthy fats and others, are shown to support brain health and cognitive function.

On the other hand, junk foods high in sugars and trans-fats fuel inflammation and impair cognitive function. Worse, insulin dysfunction – usually related to chronically elevated blood sugar from an unhealthy diet– is a major risk factor in dementia and cognitive decline.

In addition to a nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory diet, certain herbs and nutrients such as cardamom, pomegranate, cinnamon, galangal, chromium and zinc support digestion and nutrient absorption, and help reduce inflammation.

2. Detoxify

Heavy metals and toxins such as mercury, lead, pesticides and pollutants can accumulate in the body, contributing to inflammation and deadening cognitive function over time. A gentle detox program with natural cleansing supplements and an anti-inflammatory diet can help improve brain function.

Modified citrus pectin (MCP) has been clinically proven to safely remove heavy metals and other toxins from the body without affecting essential mineral levels. MCP binds to toxins, allowing them to be gently removed by the body’s detox systems. The compound also binds to an inflammatory protein, called galectin-3, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease and other conditions.

3. Prevent Oxidative Stress

A major factor in brain fog is oxidative stress, caused by unstable molecules called “free radicals.” Free radicals fuel inflammation and damage brain cells and DNA, so be sure to pack in antioxidants which scavenge harmful free radicals, reduce inflammation and help detoxify the body. Berries, dark greens and other richly colored fruits and vegetables are good choices, as they contain powerful antioxidant compounds that defend against oxidative stress.

Honokiol extract from magnolia bark, is a powerful botanical antioxidant and powerful neuro-protector with a wide range of additional benefits.

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4. Support Cell Power

Cellular power plants called mitochondria use oxygen to create energy, and there are more mitochondria in brain cells than other cells. So it’s important to support mitochondrial function to improve oxygen utilization in the brain.

There are a number of supplements that enhance cellular energy production and support brain health, such as NADH (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) which is found in all living cells. In addition, supplements like Co-Q-10, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, L-Carnosine and medicinal mushrooms all support mitochondrial function and reduce inflammation, while helping to combat free radicals. As such, they can offer important support for cognitive capacity, vital energy and overall health.

5. Control Stress

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that chronic stress can impair mental function. Think of how difficult it was to study the night before a test. Sometimes the facts just don’t stick.

Ongoing stress is inflammatory, elevating levels of hormones like cortisol that can lead to chronic inflammation in both brain and body. In addition, chronic stress can cause glucose imbalances, destroy brain cells, increase fatigue and fuel depression.

There are a number of practices that have been shown to reduce stress and benefit the brain: especially yoga, Tai Chi, meditation. The breathing that is so essential to these disciplines increases oxygen throughout the body, which in turn increases energy. These exercises are also shown to reduce inflammation and help calm an overactive nervous system.

It’s also important to take time to enjoy life. Meet up with friends, go to a show, get a massage. Enjoyment relaxes us and can have a powerful impact on both our mental and physical health.

6. Exercise

One of the underlying issues we see in memory loss is the inability to get oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Many times, this comes down to a circulation issue, which can be related to a sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, and other factors. Regular exercise also increases neural connections throughout your body, balances hormones and supports numerous other areas of health.

Studies now show that one of the most important things you can do for your brain is to get up and move around. Go for regular walks, take bike rides, get out in nature. If you find yourself stuck in a fog, get out and exercise, and notice the clarity you feel afterwards.

If cognitive decline persists, see your doctor. In serious cases, it can signal an underlying neurological or inflammatory condition, such as Lyme disease or diabetes. With the right support, you can stay sharp and protect brain health — at any age.

Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!

Dr. Isaac Eliaz

By Dr. Isaac Eliaz

Dr. Isaac Eliaz is a renowned integrative medical doctor, licensed acupuncturist, researcher, product formulator and frequent guest lecturer. He has been a pioneer in holistic medicine since the early 1980s, and has published numerous peer-reviewed research papers on several of his key integrative health formulas. He is the founder and medical director of Amitabha Clinic in California, an integrative health center specializing in cancer and chronic conditions. Dr. Eliaz is an expert in using highly strategic, synergistic protocols to address numerous areas of health including metastatic cancer, immunity, digestion, detoxification, diabetes, cardiovascular health and more. His approach integrates modern science with traditional healing wisdom for optimal health and wellness. To download any of Dr. Eliaz's comprehensive wellness guides, click here.