5 Fixes for memory loss

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Brain Function | Friday, April 17, 2015 - 05:10 AM

improve memory naturallyDo you remember your child’s second birthday? How about what you ate last week? If your memory is starting to fog, don’t hit the panic button! It’s not too late to give it a boost. In fact, there are many different things you can do every day to improve your memory.

With memory being so precious, wouldn’t you want to hold onto it as long as possible?

So if you’re noticing you can’t recall a friend’s birthday, or why you entered a room, try some of these memory-boosting tips to keep your brain clear and sharp.

Take up a new skill

Can’t teach an old dog new tricks? That’s not the case when keeping your memory sharp. In fact, learning a new skill no matter your age is a great way to improve your memory. If your Sunday routine involves a morning coffee with a crossword, try a different challenge. Maybe learn a new language or a musical instrument – whatever the skill, research says learning a new one can protect your brain.

Published in Psychological Science, one notable study revealed that actively learning and engaging in activities are far more beneficial to your memory than just crosswords or puzzles. These types of activities promote active cognitive function which is essential for long-term memory. So skip the Sunday paper and knit yourself a blanket instead.

Give your memory a workout

Before heading to the grocery store, you’ve probably made a shopping list and you have it in hand for reference. But once you’ve picked out the items, paid for them and brought them home, do you remember what you bought?

A great way to improve memory is to test it. The next time you leave a grocery store, try to recall all the items you purchased (but no peeking on your list!). This trick will not only allow you to notice which items you tend to forget, but is an easy way to give your memory a workout.

Get adequate sleep

Sleep is important for overall good health, so it’s no wonder it has benefits to your memory as well. When we sleep, our brains go through memory consolidation – turning short-term memory into long-term memory. When we don’t get enough sleep it becomes harder for us to recall things the next day.

Naps are beneficial, too, when it comes to retaining information. German researchers used two groups of participants and had them memorize cards for 40 minutes and then learn a different set of cards for another 40 minutes. During the break in between sets, one group was allowed to nap while the other group stayed awake.

The results? Those who were allowed to nap retained 85 percent more information compared to the group which stayed awake – they only retained 60 percent. So the next time you’re trying to remember something important, or want to learn something new, make sure you either take a nap or get a restful sleep to hold onto that information.

Eat a memory-friendly diet

Keeping your memory sharp is as easy as enjoying a meal. Some notable foods for better memory are oil-based salad dressings, fish high in omega-3s, dark leafy greens, avocados, nuts, and, most of all, berries.

Harvard researchers conducted a long-term study which spanned about 40 years. By following 121,700 female nurses and their consumption of berries, they were able to determine berries’ effectiveness on improving memory. The women answered surveys about their food consumption and had their memory tested throughout the years. What they found was a diet high in blueberries and strawberries led to a slower rate of memory decline as the women aged. Up until now you may already know that berries are packed with antioxidants and good for us, but now you have an even better reason to enjoy them and that’s to hold onto your memory.

Give your brain a break

Throughout your day, you’re taking in endless information and using your brainpower. By the time the day is done you may feel exhausted. This is where meditation comes into play. Meditation helps us improve our working memory. Working memory refers to items that we use for a moment and then when we are done with them, our brain discards them. On average, our working memory can hold about seven items, but meditation can help improve this.

When we meditate, our brain actually stops processing information as it normally would, and in doing so improves memory function. If it seems like the complete opposite of what it should be doing, that’s because it is, but meditation clears the mind, puts it as ease and helps it perform better. Meditation can help concentration and improve working memory in as little as two weeks.

Another study published in Neuroscience revealed 15 to 30 minutes of meditation a day can reduce the risk of dementia in adults aged 55 to 90. So why not end your day with some “Oms” and keep your memory strong?

Sharper memory, no matter your age

As you can see, improving your memory is as easy as the foods you eat and the tasks and habits you perform. You don’t have to become a prisoner to your memory as you age. You can take back the precious memories and hold onto them as long as you wish!

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