Everyone has moments of forgetfulness from time to time, especially when life gets busy.
While this can be a completely normal occurrence, having a poor memory can be frustrating.
Genetics plays a role in memory loss, especially in serious neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. However, research has shown that diet and lifestyle have a major impact on memory too.
Here are several evidence-based, natural ways to improve your memory.
- Have Food Known to Improve Memory
- Coconut Oil
- Olive Oil
- Cold-Water, Fatty Fish
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Dark Chocolate
- Green Tea
- Fermented Foods
- Sea Vegetables
- Avoid Sugar
Eating too much added sugar has been linked to many health issues and chronic diseases, including cognitive decline.
Research has shown that a sugar-laden diet can lead to poor memory and reduced brain volume, particularly in the area of the brain that stores short-term memory.
For example, one study of more than 4,000 people found that those with a higher intake of sugary beverages like soda had lower total brain volumes and poorer memories on average compared to people who consumed less sugar.
Cutting back on sugar not only helps your memory but also improves your overall health.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining healthy body weight is essential for well-being and is one of the best ways to keep your body and mind in top condition.
Several studies have established obesity as a risk factor for cognitive decline.
Interestingly, being obese can cause changes to memory-associated genes in the brain, negatively affecting memory.
Obesity can also lead to insulin resistance and inflammation, both of which can negatively impact the brain.
A study of 50 people between the ages of 18 and 35 found that a higher body mass index was associated with significantly worse performance on memory tests.
Obesity is also associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive disease that destroys memory and cognitive function.
- Try Brain Workouts
Practicing mindfulness and trying to keep your brain active are great ways to boost your memory. For instance, you can learn a new language, or meditate to improve focus and concentration.
The practice of meditation may positively affect your health in many ways.
It is relaxing and soothing and has been found to reduce stress and pain, lower blood pressure and even improve memory.
In fact, meditation has been shown to increase gray matter in the brain. Gray matter contains neuron cell bodies.
As you age, gray matter declines, which negatively impacts memory and cognition.
Meditation and relaxation techniques have been shown to improve short-term memory in people of all ages, from people in their 20s to the elderly.
For example, one study demonstrated that Taiwanese college students who engaged in meditation practices like mindfulness had significantly better spatial working memory than students who did not practice meditation.
Spatial working memory is the ability to hold and process information in your mind about the positions of objects in space.
- Get Enough Sleep
Lack of proper sleep has been associated with a poor memory for quite some time.
Sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation, a process in which short-term memories are strengthened and transformed into long-lasting memories.
Research shows that if you are sleep-deprived, you could be negatively impacting your memory.
For example, one study looked at the effects of sleep in 40 children between the ages of 10 and 14.
One group of children was trained for memory tests in the evening, then tested the following morning after a night’s sleep. The other group was trained and tested on the same day, with no sleep between training and testing.
The group that slept between training and testing performed 20% better on the memory tests.
Another study found that nurses working the night shift made more mathematical errors and that 68% of them scored lower on memory tests compared to nurses working the day shift.
Health experts recommend adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health.
- Drink Caffeine Strategically
Caffeine is a mind-altering drug. People often have it to increase productivity and memory. And while it is helpful, too much of it can leave you feeling irritable, anxious, or addicted. Given that it is addictive it’s important to drink it strategically.
- Drink Less Alcohol
Consuming too many alcoholic beverages can be detrimental to your health in many ways and can negatively impact your memory.
Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that raises your blood alcohol levels to 0.08 grams per ml or above. Studies have shown it alters the brain and results in memory deficits.
A study of 155 college freshmen found that students who consumed six or more drinks within a short period of time, either weekly or monthly, had difficulties in immediate and delayed memory-recall tests compared to students who never binge drank.
Alcohol exhibits neurotoxic effects on the brain. Repeated episodes of binge drinking can damage the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a vital role in memory.
While having a drink or two now and then is perfectly healthy, avoiding excessive alcohol intake is a smart way to protect your memory.
- Exercise More
Exercise is important for overall physical and mental health.
Research has established that it’s beneficial for the brain and may help improve memory in people of all ages, from children to older adults.
For example, a study of 144 people aged 19 to 93 showed that a single bout of 15 minutes of moderate exercise on a stationary bike led to improved cognitive performance, including memory, across all ages.
Many studies have shown exercise may increase the secretion of neuroprotective proteins and improve the growth and development of neurons, leading to improved brain health.
Regular exercise in midlife is also associated with a decreased risk of developing dementia later in life.
- Quit Smoking
One drag on your cigarette releases millions of free radicals (unattached oxygen molecules) which kill brain cells. Smoking too much can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Take Essential Oils for Instant Memory Boost
Essential oils are naturally occurring volatile compounds extracted from plants. A few of them are known for their ability to give instant memory boosts. For instance, rosemary and peppermint can help keep you alert and improve memory.
There are many fun, simple, and even delicious ways to improve your memory.
Exercising your mind and body, enjoying a quality piece of chocolate, and reducing the amount of added sugar in your diet are all excellent techniques.
Try adding a few of these science-backed tips to your daily routine to boost your brain health and keep your memory in top condition.