How to Prevent Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon

It happens to all of us and it’s frustrating — tip of the tongue phenomenon — the phrase used to describe what happens when we can’t seem to pull a word from our memory yet we know it’s there. Since it seems to occur more often as we age, it will be less of a frustration if we learn how to prevent tip of the tongue phenomenon. There are a few things we can do to minimize memory decline.

How to Prevent Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon

“People seem to expect that as soon as we start to need reading glasses, we should also expect some of these cognitive issues to arise, but it does not need to be that way,” says Naples, Florida-based Neurology Doctor David Perlmutter, co-author of Power up Your Brain. “You can absolutely do things early on in life and throughout your lifetime that work to maintain the bulk and function of the brain.”

Here’s how:

Stay lean.It may seem counterintuitive, but mounting evidence suggests that in order to grow a bigger brain, many of us should be eating less. “The key to the brain maintaining and even regenerating itself is the activation of a set of genes that code for a protein called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF),” explains Perlmutter. “BDNF is significantly enhanced in people that simply cut down their calorie consumption.”

Wondering how to prevent tip of the tongue phenomenon? Eat a brain building diet.

Several animal and human studies support this conclusion. One 2009 study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, divided 50 men and women age 50
and older into three groups that slashed calorie intake by 20 percent, 30 percent and not at all. After three months, the groups that restricted their calories saw their verbal memory scores jump by more than 20 percent.

Perlmutter notes that just being overweight in the prime of life can promote excess inflammation and free radical production—two enemies of a healthy brain. A 2005 study of 10,000 men and women conducted by researchers at Kaiser Permanente found that people that were obese in their early 40s had a 74 percent increased risk of developing dementia later in life. “Just a 25 percent reduction in calories over one month’s time can have a profound effect on boosting memory,” Perlmutter notes.

Eat a brain-building diet. Aside from cutting calories, experts say it’s critical to load up on foods that boost neurogenesis (the development of new brain cells) and stall brain atrophy. Eating more fish (or omega-3 supplements), adding fruits and vegetables and cutting back on refined carbohydrates do just that, advises Dr. Christiane Northrup, obstetrician, gynecologist and author of Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom. “The brain is mostly made up of omega-3 fats, and many women, in particular, are lacking them in their diet,” she observes.

Perlmutter notes that supplementing one’s intake of omega-3 fatty acid DHA, present in fatty fish and marine algae, has been shown to switch on the genes that jumpstart BDNF production. DHA is also anti-inflammatory and promotes healthy blood flow to the brain. But people shouldn’t wait too long to load up on it.

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So it appears that the things we do to keep ourselves healthy are also things that we can pass along to others we care about so they too will know how to prevent tip of the tongue phenomenon. Share this.

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