Gingko’s new study raises old controversies

Recent news from a study (1) on Gingko biloba has generated controversy over whether the herb can really increase brain function. The Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the “gold standard” of research, of more than 3,000 participants aged 72 to 96 years. Half took 120 mg of gingko twice a day, while the other half of the group took a placebo (without gingko).

After 6 years, the researchers did not notice differences in the rates of cognitive decline (brain function) between the two groups. This may lead to the conclusion that ginkgo is useless to prevent cognitive impairment with age, but this conclusion would be premature.

Keep in mind that 11 of 16 controlled trials published above have shown that ginkgo increases short-term memory, concentration and mental processing time. In addition, other studies show that gingko can produce modest improvements in cognitive function in people who already have Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.

Don’t put all the eggs in the gingko basket

In short, Gingko’s recent study is not the last word. But it does point out something very important about healthy brain aging: there is no magic bullet. To date, no herb, dietary supplement or medication has been shown to significantly decrease cognitive changes in people with Alzheimer’s or other serious brain diseases. Nor have herbs and medications been shown to prevent mild cognitive changes that come with age.

However, there is some good news in all this. There may not be a magic bullet, but there are many “almost magical” bullets. When taken together, these things really keep the brain healthy until old age.

You should not put all your eggs in the ginkgo basket. If you want to try gingko, that’s fine, after consulting with your doctor, of course! You’ll want to make sure this herb is safe for you. But there is much more than any herb you can do to increase your brain power.

Increase your brain naturally

To keep your brain alert, a multifaceted approach is your best option. Start with the following plan and you can stop losing those keys and forget your shopping list!

Focus on healthy heart nutrition. What does your heart have to do with your brain? Changes that lead to heart disease can lead to brain dysfunction. If the arteries in and around your heart are clogged, it is very likely that those around your brain are also injected. There is a strong connection between heart disease and poorer mental function.

Color yourself beautiful.

To take better care of your heart and head, focus on a plant-based diet that includes a lot of fiber. Make sure that approximately three quarters of your calories come from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. It is known that this type of diet protects the heart and, fortunately, also the head.

Many of the phytonutrients that give vegetables and fruits their bright colors protect brain cells from damage as we age. These nutrients minimize oxidation, a destructive process that can kill brain cells. Oxidation accelerates with age, so a colorful diet is even more important for the elderly!

Less than 15% of us meet the minimum recommendation of 5 days for the intake of vegetables and fruits. That means that 85% of us do not eat enough plant foods for good brain and body health. And even fewer of us eat the 8-10 portions that research suggests will prevent disease as we age. Make eating more of these foods a priority as of today.

Beat obesity.

Obesity and being overweight can lead to cognitive impairment because they affect the way the body and brain process nutrients. This can cause inflammation of the cells and reduce blood flow in the brain.

As detailed in number 1 above, it is about the health of the heart and brain. Obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease in the United States today. It also contributes to strokes and the increased risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia that deprive us of a healthy life in old age.

Get rid of the car.

While it is true that there is no magic bullet to prevent cognitive impairment, exercise is quite close. Study after study shows that the more you move your body, the better your brain will function. Exercise surges the flow of oxygenated blood and healthy nutrients to the brain. If you don’t exercise, you are giving up one of the best possible ways to make sure you age in a healthy way.

The next time you’re about to get in the car to advance 10 blocks, try to hook it. Remove dust from the bicycle. Walking the dog. Run with your children. Play tennis. Shoot hoops. No matter what you do, just do it. You do not need to run a marathon. You only need to move your body, for at least 20-30 minutes, at least, every day. More is better, but any exercise will improve your health. Period.

Participate in mental exercise.

One of the biggest contributors to the loss of brain function with age is boredom. If you don’t exercise your brain regularly, it will weaken over time. Sitting in front of the TV for hours per day does more than widen your waist. Waste your brain.


Instead, enjoy card games or crosswords. Read a good book. Start a new hobby. To knit. Build a cabinet or other furniture. Play the guitar. Anything you can do to involve your brain will keep you alert as you get older.

Be a social butterfly.

Visit family and friends regularly. Strong social associations are a vital part of strong brain aging. Isolation and loneliness are among the main causes of decreased brain function.

Do you want an excellent way to improve not only your brain, but also the brains of others? Try to volunteer! You will feel good about yourself; you will interact with others socially and you will be better for it.



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