Do you have trouble remembering the details of a fun night out at a concert? Have difficulty recalling important events, like a friend’s wedding? “Memory lapses can be both embarrassing and troubling, but the good news is it is never too late to improve your powers of recall,” says Dr. David Poulad, a neurosurgeon at IGEA Brain and Spine in Union, New Jersey. “Your brain continues to develop neurons and build new connections to strengthen memory as you age. There are plenty of strategies that help you improve your memory today and keep it robust for years to come.” Here are 13 memory-boosting methods experts recommend:
#1. Eat right
Consuming a healthy diet that’s low in fat and cholesterol is good for your overall health and reduces the risk of cardiac disease and stroke, both of which have a detrimental effect on cognitive functioning, including memory, says Sanam Hafeez, a clinical psychologist based in New York City and a teaching faculty member at Columbia University Teachers College.
“Further, research finds that along with other benefits, foods rich in Omega-3, such as some fish and nuts, as well as those full of antioxidants [such as blueberries]can help protect the brain from memory decline,” Hafeez says. “So the foods that are good for your body are unsurprisingly also good for your brain.”
#2. Chew gum
Chewing gum helps people sustain their attention to a task, helps relieve stress and might improve one’s memory, according to a study published in BioMed Research International in 2015. The paper cited earlier tests that showed that chewing gum increased relaxation and improved alertness.
The act of chewing mobilized energetic resources, in particular facial muscles, and increased a chewer’s heart rate, cerebral blood flow and brain activity, which led to improvements in cognitive performance, the earlier research showed. “Further studies are needed, but chewing could be useful as an easy method for modifying cognitive function on a daily basis and not be demanding physically and mentally,” the 2015 study says.
#3. Get enough sleep
Getting sufficient sleep allows our minds to work at their best, says Courtney B. Johnson, a neuropsychologist based at the Indiana University Health Neuroscience Center in Indianapolis. In our teens and 20s, we might get away with cramming all night for a test with little or no sleep. As we get older, lack of sleep can impair our memory.
“Memory lapses are more common when we are sleep deprived or have had several nights of poor sleep quality,” Johnson says. “For most adults, obtaining around seven hours minimum of nightly quality sleep is the goal.” To promote good sleeping habits, remove technology, like computers, from your bedroom.
#4. Get enough exercise
Physical activity helps your body and brain stay fit – and can do the same with memory. Exercise helps not only with cardiovascular health but also promotes cognitive functioning. “Physical activity can improve mood, which can strongly impact cognition,” Johnson says. “Getting in a good workout can help prepare our bodies for rest, and to rest well, which in turn allows our mind to be at its best the next day.”
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