As we age, it is normal to start noticing our inability to remember some things. For instance, you keep forgetting where you left your car keys, or you can’t remember the name of someone new moments after they introduced themselves. Be encouraged; you are not alone. We all forget certain things once in a while. However, memory loss is not to be taken lightly.
Memory lapses occur across all age groups, but we tend to notice them more as we grow older because we have been told memory loss worsens with age. To be factual, even in older people, significant memory loss is not normal. A myriad of factors, such as neurological diseases, injury to the brain or organic disorders, could cause it. For such situations, booking an appointment with your doctor is important.
Age-related memory loss can slow certain cognitive processes, impacting your ability to assimilate new information quickly. Memory loss is frustrating and cannot be overlooked, especially when you must maintain mental sharpness in your daily life. Following decades of research, there are various science-backed strategies that you could implement to enhance your memory.
We picked four of these memory enhancement methods to share with you.
Eat a Diet That Supports Brain Function
A healthy diet supporting brain function is key to enhancing your memory. Research has shown that certain foods give the brain the nutrients it needs to function optimally. Fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, oily fish rich in omega 3s, seeds and nuts are vital for the brain. Also, certain foods have been found to impact the brain negatively and should be avoided. Sugary foods are a big culprit not only because they have been linked to many chronic diseases but also to cognitive decline.
A recent study with about 4000 participants found that people who consume a high-sugar diet had a reduced brain volume in the area responsible for short-term memory. Participants who had a high sugar intake also suffered more from poor memory.
Another food to watch out for is refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates, such as white rice, wheat flour and certain cereals, have a higher glycemic index which means they spike blood sugar levels. Research has shown that the western diet, which is higher in refined carbohydrates, is linked with cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia. Cut back on your sugar intake today to enhance your memory and improve your overall health.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for memory consolidation, whereby our brains strengthen and transform short-term memories into long-lasting memories. Studies have consistently shown that inadequate sleep leads to poor memory.
In one particular study, 40 children between the ages of 10 and 14 were split into two groups, with one group being trained for memory tests in the evening and sitting for the actual test after a night’s sleep. The second group was trained and sat for the test the same day with no sleep in between.
The results showed that the group that slept before taking the test performed better by a factor of 20%. Even more significant was a study involving nurses working night and day shifts. 68% of nurses that worked the night shift had the lowest scores on memory tests and tended to make more mathematical errors while working. Health experts recommend that adults sleep between 7 and 9 hours to perform optimally.
Avoid Alcohol Intake
Alcohol is detrimental to our health and also impacts our memories negatively. Alcohol has a neurotoxic effect on the brain and could damage a part of the brain called the hippocampus which plays a crucial role in memory.
For instance, a study involving 155 college students found that those who took six or more alcoholic beverages weekly performed poorly in memory recall tests. Avoiding alcohol or reducing your intake is a key strategy to enhance memory.
Mindfulness helps us develop a habit of focusing on our present moments while maintaining awareness of our feelings and environment. Mindfulness is one of the tools used in meditation and can be developed through practice. Mindfulness improves concentration and memory while also helping us handle stressful situations better.
Furthermore, mindfulness reduces the risk of age-related memory loss and improves psychological well-being. In your daily routine, be attentive to your present moment, focus on your breath, and keep attempting to bring your attention back to the present if your mind wanders.
There are many science-backed strategies to enhance your memory. Eating a healthy balanced diet, getting enough sleep, avoiding alcoholic drinks and practicing mindfulness is a good place to start. Start implementing these tips daily to boost cognitive function and memory.
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