Memory is often understood as an informational processing system. It is the ability to encode, store, and effectively retrieve previously learned information or past experiences. It is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action. If past events could not be remembered, it would be impossible for language, relationships, or personal identity to develop. Because of this, having a poor memory can be incredibly frustrating. While moments of forgetfulness every now and then are normal, there are lifestyle changes you can make that can help improve your memory and cognitive function.
1. Avoid Processed Sugar
Sugar is the new smoking. Processed sugar has been linked to many health issues and chronic diseases including cognitive decline and memory loss. Cutting back on processed sugar can also improve overall health such as managing weight, memory and mood.
2. Add Omega-3s To Your Diet
Omega-3s are known as essential fats, meaning our bodies can't produce them and we must get them through our diet . This is super important because Omega-3s are vital nutrients for maintaining healthy brain function and have been linked to healthy aging throughout life . These fats fuel the brain, support mental health, relieve stress and anxiety, slow mental decline, and reduce inflammation on the brain. Many studies also show that consuming omega-3s may improve memory, especially in older people. Interested in learning more about the power of omega-3s? Foods high in omega-3s include cold-water fish like salon, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. You may also try adding an omega-3 supplement to your diet. We have a whole blog post on omega-3's here.
3. Get Enough Sleep
One of the oldest known factors contributing to memory loss is lack of sleep. Adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Are you sure you’re getting that? When you sleep, your brain is going through memory consolidation, a process in which short-term memories are strengthened and transformed into long-lasting memories.
4. Watch Your Alcohol Intake
While the occasional glass of red wine has been shown to have health benefits, consuming too much alcohol can be detrimental to your health in many ways, and may even negatively impact your memory. This is due to the fact that binge drinking has a neurotoxic effect on the brain and can damage the part of your brain called the hippocampus, which plays a vital role in memory.
5. Avoid Refined Carbohydrates
These are “foods” like cakes, cereal, white flour, white rice and white bread. These foods cause a quick spike in blood sugar levels which can damage your brain over time. Western diets that are heavy in these foods have been associated with dementia, cognitive decline, and reduced cognitive function.
6. Get Enough Exercise
Get up and go! You’ll never regret it when you’re done and feeling the effects of those neurons in your brain firing off. Even moderate exercise is beneficial for your mental and physical health.
7. Eat Foods high in Antioxidants
Antioxidants lower inflammation in the body, fight off dangerous free radicals, and reduce oxidative stress in the brain. Some of the most powerful antioxidants are called carotenoids (Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin). Basically a fancy word for nutrients, carotenoids are plant-based pigments that exist in leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, and peppers. Studies have shown these nutrients to have memory-enhancing effects when taken daily, as well as an impact on cognitive function. Consuming antioxidants through your diet is one way to obtain them, but you may also try fortifying your diet with supplements.
Overall, you can very easily and quickly increase your memory by living a healthy lifestyle. Eating whole foods, getting enough exercise and sleep, and adding a supplement are things you can start today to improve your memory and brain health over the long term. Click through to read more about lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of dementia.
If you’re looking for smart holiday gift ideas for the people you care about, this Healthy Brain Holiday Gift Guide can help you select a gift that supports your loved ones’ brain health and ensure the memories of this season’s holidays aren’t forgotten.