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 8 evidence-based ways to improve your memory naturally.
1. Eat Less Added 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.
2. Try a Fish Oil Supplement
Fish oil is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fats are important for overall health and have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, relieve stress and anxiety, and slow mental decline. Many studies have shown that consuming fish and fish oil supplements may improve memory, especially in older people. One study of 36 older adults with mild cognitive impairment found that short-term and working memory scores improved significantly after they
took concentrated fish oil supplements for 12 months. Another recent review of 28 studies showed that when adults with mild symptoms of memory loss took supplements rich in DHA and EPA, like fish oil, they experienced improved episodic memory. Both DHA and EPA are vital to the health and functioning of the brain and also help reduce inflammation in the body, which has been linked to cognitive decline.
3. Make Time for Meditation
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 grey matter in the brain. Grey matter contains neuron cell bodies. As you age, grey 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.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a mental state in which you focus on your present situation, maintaining awareness of your surroundings and feelings. Mindfulness is used in meditation, but the two aren’t one and the same. Meditation is a more formal practice, whereas mindfulness is a mental habit you can use in any situation. Studies have shown that mindfulness is effective at lowering stress and improving concentration and memory.
One study of 293 psychology students showed that those who underwent mindfulness training had improved recognition-memory performance when recalling objects compared to students who did not receive mindfulness training. Mindfulness has also been linked with a lower risk of age-related cognitive decline and an overall improvement in psychological well-being Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine by paying more attention to your present situation, concentrating on your breathing and gently resetting your attention when your mind wanders.
5. Train Your Brain
Exercising your cognitive skills by playing brain games is a fun and
effective way to boost your memory.Crosswords, word-recall games, Tetris and even mobile apps dedicated to memory training are excellent ways to strengthen memory. A study that included 42 adults with mild cognitive impairment found that playing games on a brain-training app for eight hours over a four-week period improved performance in memory tests. Another study of 4,715 people showed that when they did 15 minutes of an online brain-training program at least five days a week, their short-term memory, working memory, concentration and problem-solving improved significantly compared to a control group. Plus, brain-training games have been shown to help reduce the risk of
dementia in older adults.
6. 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 emory 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 about of 15 minutes of moderate exercise on a stationary bike led to improved cognitive performance, including memory, across all age. 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.
The Bottom Line
These are the simple and practical ways to improve your memory. 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.