Herpes virus could be to blame for senior moments

By Shayna Brouker • Published: June 18th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Having yet another senior moment? Those keys seem to just grow legs and hide somewhere, don’t they? And the name of even your own daughter escapes you for seemingly no reason. Old age may not be to blame. A study published in the journal Neurology found that older adults who carry certain viruses may also suffer from impaired thinking and memory.

The Columbia University study of more than sixteen-hundred older adults found that those with herpes simplex virus one and two and certain other infections scored lower on standard tests of mental skills. The scientists tested for H-S-V one and two, cytomegalovirus, which rarely causes symptoms; C. pneumoniae (nuh-MOAN-yay), a bug linked with respiratory infections; and H. pylori, a, ulcer-aggravating bacterium.The higher their infection affliction, the worse participants scored — but only among those who led sedentary lives. Exercise seemed to protect against the mind-numbing effect of viruses.

More research is needed to determine whether these viruses are truly tied to mental decline, but in the meantime you can nourish your noggin in a few ways to slow the aging process. Research has shown that brain games can keep you sharp. One study found that brain training for memory, reasoning and speed of processing information yielded enhanced functioning in these areas that lasted up to five years.

You can also eat your way to better brain health. Be sure to include two servings of fatty fish a week for a dose of omega 3 fatty acids, which is linked with decreased mental decline, dementia and stroke risks. You can even indulge in nuts and chocolate, which carry age-fighting antioxidants like vitamin A and cacao. Blueberries offer a huge boost of brainpower too. Take advantage of an arsenal of age-fighting foods and tricks to keep your brain in the game.