It has become expected – and even accepted – that our ability to remember things will decline with age. There are a number of internal and external factors that contribute to memory loss, but simply getting older is not necessarily one of them. Mental sharpness has no age limit, and a few simple shifts in your diet and lifestyle could be your best option to avoid a dreaded “senior moment” and naturally improve your memory.
Challenge Your Brain
Your brain is comprised of thousands upon millions of neural pathways that allow you to recall common knowledge and execute habitual tasks with little thought involved. However, sticking to the familiar does not provide much room for mental growth. Think of it like doing the same workout routine in the gym every day: if it is no longer challenging you, how much is it really benefiting you?
Brain development is a lifelong process – the key is to always be learning. Expand your neural pathways by starting a new hobby completely different from your current skill set, such as learning an instrument or studying a new language. Brain games such as crossword puzzles, word scrambles and Sudoku are designed to keep you mentally sharp, which in turn strengthens your memory. There are also dozens of memory focused apps available for download on your mobile device to add some variety and fun to your mental workout.
Make Time to Exercise
Exercising the body also exercises the mind, both directly and indirectly. Studies have shown that the prefrontal and medial temporal cortexes (the parts of the brain responsible for memory) are larger in those who exercise regularly. This is because working out stimulates the release of several chemical growth factors that contribute to brain cell health and abundance. Simply put, the more cells you have in this area of the brain, the higher your likelihood of preserving your memory recollection.
There are several ways exercise indirectly improves memory as well, such as stress relief, mood improvement and sleep cycle regulation. A calm mind and a positive attitude both contribute to cognitive health, and a restful night’s sleep allows the brain to repair and restore overnight. The next time you’re suffering from brain fog or notice your recall slipping, go for a jog or brisk walk around the neighborhood. Research has suggested that as little as two hours of moderate aerobic exercise per week can help to stimulate brain activity and naturally improve your memory.
Create a Memory Boosting Menu
So often we hear about meals to help you lose weight, lower cholesterol or promote heart health, but rarely do we discuss the plentitude of foods available to help you naturally improve your memory. The foods you put into your body directly affects the functionality of each of your organs, so it is especially important to keep your brain – the most complex organ – well nourished.
Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or savory, there are a number of ways to incorporate “brain food” into your meal rotation. The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as tuna and salmon work to build cell membranes and promote healthy brain cell growth. Dark berries like blackberries and cherries are rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins and flavonoids, both of which reduce brain inflammation and improve cognitive function. For those with a family history of Alzheimer’s, research has shown turmeric and its active compound curcurmin can help clear the amyloid plaques in the brain associated with the disease.
Keep Your Brain Hydrated
Fueling your brain isn’t solely reliant the foods you eat, it’s also the fluids you drink and how often you drink them. An overwhelming 73% of your brain is comprised of water, and as little as 2% dehydration can have an adverse affect on your recall, attention and overall cognitive function.
As a general guideline, strive for eight glasses (64 oz.) of water per day to provide your brain with the minimum amount of fluids needed to stay fully hydrated. Stray away from sugary drinks like sodas and unnatural juices, as their ability to spike blood sugar levels is linked to an increased likelihood of cognitive impairment. Coffee lovers rejoice – according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the caffeine found in coffee beans has proven to have a positive effect on long term memory for at least 24 hours after consumption. It’s worth noting that caffeine’s diuretic nature is naturally dehydrating, so be sure to replenish your fluids with a glass of water after every cup of coffee.
Is It Time To Naturally Improve Your Memory?
The answer is yes: the time is always right to start improving your memory! Your memories serve as as internal manual for your skill sets, life lessons and prior experiences, and it’s never too soon to ensure they are preserved. Whether or not you feel as though your recall has begun to slip, integrating these memory boosting tricks into your lifestyle will help improve your mental sharpness and allow you to store new memories in the years to come.
Dr. Lorraine Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional, and anti-aging physician and author. She transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of illness using the best of science and nature. Her approach is personalized, precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are. If you’re ready to start your journey to a healthier, happier life, schedule your visit today!