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Five things that affect memory

Ageing alone does not affect memory. Read on to find out what else can harm it.

Print Edition: September 7, 2008

Ageing alone does not affect memory. Read on to find out what else can harm it.

Sleep Apnea
It’s a disorder characterised by frequent cessations of breathing throughout the night, resulting in loud snoring. Says Dr Pushpendra Renjen, Senior Consultant, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi: “People with sleep apnea wake up repeatedly at night, leading to chronic daytime fatigue and memory problems.”

Vitamin B12 deficiency
Memory loss due to vitamin B12 deficiency occurs for two reasons. Says Dr Renjen: “First, inadequate nerve cells can affect the overall functioning of your nervous system, and, therefore, your brain.” Secondly, the decreased number of red blood cells means that the tissues in your body are not receiving enough oxygen to function properly, including the brain cells. Increasing your vitamin B12 will result in improved memory.

Blood sugar
People who starve themselves and then have a big meal often have very unstable blood sugar levels. Says Dr Rajeev Ranjan, Consultant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi: “That is why doctors often recommend that patients who want to improve their memory have six small meals a day as opposed to three large ones so as to keep blood sugar levels steady.”

Binge drinking
Heavy long-term drinking can also result in poor memory. Says Dr Ranjan: “Alcohol intoxication can cause long-term changes in the brain that persist years after a person stops drinking.”

Cardiovascular diseases
Says Dr Ranjan: “Controlling the factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease—weight, blood pressure and cholesterol— helps prevent dementia. Healthy lifestyles can protect against memory loss.”

Manu Kaushik

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