Memory is defined in psychology as the mental ability of an organism to maintain, store and recall information. As you age, you may feel like your memory is gradually losing its ability to store as much information as before. Although this is a natural occurrence, there are ways that can improve your memory and keep your brain healthy.
1. Physical activity
Being physically active is not only keep your body healthy but it also enhances your brain power.
Numerous studies have found that exercise may increase the secretion of neuroprotective proteins and support the development of neurons, leading to improved brain health. Exercise is also thought to encourage the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped area of the brain that is crucial for memory and learning.
One study of 144 people aged 19 to 93 showed that a 15 minutes of moderate intensity stationary cycling led to improved cognitive performance, including memory, across all ages .
A 2006 study found that cardiovascular fitness, especially in older adults, is associated with increased brain volume in the areas of the brain linked to age-related decline .
2. Eat a brain-boosting diet
Your food choices may affect your brain just as much as your body. Foods rich in nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants have been shown to support brain health.
Omega-3s may help improve short-term, working and episodic memory, especially in older people. Foods rich in omega-3s include salmon, sardines, mackerel, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil, broccoli, etc.
Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which can damage our brain cells. You can obtain antioxidants in foods like fruits, vegetables and green tea.
3. Reduce sugar intake
Too much consumption of sugar is associated with many health issues, including cognitive decline.
Research has shown that a diet high in sugar can lead to poor memory and reduced brain volume, particularly in the area of the brain that stores short-term memory.
For example, a 2017 study published in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association found that people with a higher intake of sugary beverages had lower total brain volumes and poorer memories on average compared to people who consumed less sugar .
Another study published in the journal Neurology showed that people with high blood sugar levels were more likely to have memory problems .
4. Do brain games
Brain games can not only prevent but also improve cognitive symptoms related to mental conditions, such as mild traumatic brain injury. Regularly playing such games can even prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists recommend that people play strategy games and puzzle games to reap the benefits. Strategy games, such as chess, improve memory, visualization, attention, creativity, and problem-solving skills. They also help rehabilitation and therapy.
Puzzle games, such as Crosswords and Sudoku, keep your brain active, prevent memory loss problems, and improve nervous system.
5. Get enough sleep
Researchers have long known that sleep is important for memory and learning. Study suggests that inadequate sleep can have a negative effect on human memory in the long-term. In fact, a study conducted at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reveals that memory consolidation and related motor skills are notably improved by getting an adequate amount of sleep .
So, if you’re struggling to remember the things you’ve learned, consider getting a good night’s sleep. Learn about tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
6. Spend time with friends
If you want to keep your memory sharp, try to socialize whenever possible. A study conducted at the University of Michigan reveals that just as little as 10 minutes of conversations with a friend can yield significant improvements in memory and overall cognitive ability .
Also, if you have a belly laugh while you’re together, even better, since laughter boosts memory by reducing the stress hormone cortisol.
7. Chew gum
Although chewing gum doesn’t directly improve your memory, it does help boost your mental alertness.
If you need to remember a piece of information for around 30 minutes, try chewing gum. Studies have found that participants who chewed gum did better on both visual and audio memory tasks than those who didn’t chew gum .
One reason that chewing gum might affect our memory recall is that it increases activity in the hippocampus. However, It’s still unclear why this happens though.
This works in much the same way as chewing gum. Even tough it doesn’t directly influence memory, it can actually help you focus and aid in memory retention.
Researchers at Plymouth University found that in memory tests doodlers performed 29 percent better than non-doodlers when asked to recall names and places.
The practice of meditation has been found to reduce stress and anxiety, decrease depression, and even improve memory .
In a 2005 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers found that meditation improves mood, memory, mental health, and positively affects other factors that contribute to the onset of dementia.
Meditation is also good for caregivers. In a study from UCLA, researchers found that meditation lowered stress levels in both professional and family caregivers.