My grandfather will start his 95th journey around the sun this year. He has experienced much. Ellis island, the building of the Golden Gate Bridge, wars of the world. When I was very young, he and I would walk the piers in San Francisco and he would tell me of the shipyards and the Great Depression, the steep hills with horses pulling carts up and down them, the striped bass runs in the bay, never failing to describe the look and feeling of “I remember when.”
Grandpa knows everything. How to tie the best fishing knots, repair a sink, and diagnose a car’s engine noise. His VCR never blinked 12:00.
I’ve always been in awe of his acquisition and recollection prowess. Even today, as I talk to him, I can see the smile slowly emerge on his face and his eyes light up, just before he begins his anecdote or lesson. It’s a tale that would be very short if not made mythical by the care he wields with the details.
It’s his superpower. One that I hope I inherit and am able to pass on to my grandchildren.
I’ve noticed that as he grew older, his ability to acquire and retain new information was still quite astonishing. Does his brain ever get full? He has transcended from the Industrial Age to the Information Age without missing a step.
Unfortunately, for many of, as we age our ability to acquire and retain new information seemingly diminishes. New gadgets are introduced rapidly. Our television screens show information and update panels in three different places (five if you’re watching sports). How do we acquire and retain it all?
Brain food. It used to be just fish. Yet now that we’ve gone global, we’re learning about herbs and vitamins that have been used for centuries to assist with a variety of cognitive conditions. One of those is Bacopa, a popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine.
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri, Bacopa monniera), is an herb that grows in wet soil, shallow water and marshes throughout India and the tropics. The entire plant has a medicinal use. (http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/.fulltext/9/1/79.pdf)
It is used for Alzheimer’s disease, improving memory, anxiety, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), allergic conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a general tonic to fight stress. (http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-761-BRAHMI.aspx?activeIngredientId=761&activeIngredientName=BRAHMI)
Recent studies have shown that Bacopa improves cognitive functions and free memory recall – the ability to recall information in no particular order. It also affected the speed of visual information processing which may improve cognitive proceeds such as learning and memory. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20590480, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22747190, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11498727)
In one 2011 study, 39 Alzheimer’s patients (60-65 years) were given a Bacopa supplement twice daily for 6 months. 23 Patients showed significant improvements in various areas, including attention, orientation of person, place, and time, and in reading, writing, and comprehension.(http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue91/HERBPRO_Bacopa.html)
The ingredients within Bacopa that are responsible for the positive cognitive effects, aid in repair of damaged neurons by enhancing kinase activity, neuronal synthesis, and restoration of synaptic activity, and ultimately nerve impulse transmission. (http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/.fulltext/9/1/79.pdf)
While I’ll still eat fish, my never ending quest for knowledge (and retention) is now bolstered by the promise of Bacopa. It is widely available as an extract/supplement (may also be called “Brahmi”).
Super brain Smoothie
- 1 peeled Kiwi
- ½ banana (for best results use sliced and frozen bananas)
- ½ cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
- 3 green tea ice cubes (made from brewed organic green tea)
- 1 tbsp ground chia Seeds
- 1½ cups almond milk
Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately. Makes one large serving. Enjoy!