Do you find yourself forgetting things?
It’s a common issue for younger AND older people alike.
The good news: For most affected by memory loss, it’s a condition that CAN be improved.
Check out these simple and easy things you can do to enhance your memory and cognitive function.
1. Exercise your brain...
Your brain has millions of neural pathways that help you remember and process information, solve problems and complete everyday tasks. Unfortunately, these paths wear out over time. You have to exercise your mind to force it to create new pathways to replace old ones.
Studies show that as you work your brain, it becomes more capable of recalling and using information. Similar to physical exercise, mental workouts can’t be stactic, they must actually challenge your brain and push it to new levels.
Good memory-building activities should:
- Take you out of your comfort zone and force you to learn something new. Doing the same tasks over and over won’t encourage your brain to create new pathways.
- Make you pay attention and challenge yourself. Doing the “same-old” activities doesn’t encourage the brain to work in new ways. Learning something NEW does.
- Encourage you to build and expand on an existing skill or knowledge base. Taking on a new challenge is a sold first step toward improving memory. Mastering it over time builds deeper and better neural pathways.
- Deliver positive benefits. Dogs learn new things when they know they’ll receive a treat once they complete an activity. In the same way, humans only learn new things when they enjoy a benefit for doing so.
Good examples of activities that have all these characteristics include studying a language, learning to play a musical instrument and mastering a sport like tennis or golf.
All these things push boundaries, force you to focus, allow you to continue to develop skills over time, provide significant rewards — and encourage your brain to develop new pathways now and well into old age.
Tip: Exercise your brain by engaging in real-world activities, not by using games or quizzes. Studies show that brain-building tools don’t provide the same benefits as learning a new skill and mastering it over time.
2. ...And your body
Mental and physical activities work hand-in-hand when it comes to improving brain capacity.
Physical activity increases the oxygen and blood supplied to the brain, which improves awareness and cognitive function. It also helps prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other disorders that can affect memory.
One other benefit of physical exercise: It helps optimize the levels of chemicals in the brain that regulate and normalize its performance.
Tip: Aerobic exercise, such as running, bicycling, hiking or swimming, is particularly good for the mind. Aerobic activities that involve hand-eye coordination — like tennis — are even better. Aim to get 45 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week. Make sure you check with a medical professional before beginning a new workout routine.
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3. Get some sleep
Aim to get at least seven hours of rest every night. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. Doing this will amp-up brain power.
Don’t cheat. Science shows that skimping on sleep can seriously impact memory and recall.
Tip: Avoid watching television or using devices with screens, such as smartphones or tablets, before going to bed. The light emitted from them is known to produce chemical reactions in the body that prevent sleep. Also, stop drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages at least five or six hours prior to bed time.
4. Make friends
Countless studies show that one of the best things you can do for your brain is build and maintain close friendships.
Humans are social beings. We thrive when we interact with others. It’s part of our DNA. In fact, connecting with others may be one of the top forms of brain exercise. The unexpected challenges and pleasures that come with friendships force the brain to function in fresh new ways.
Tip: As people age, friends drift apart or pass away. If this is true for you, make it a point to volunteer, join clubs or find other ways to make new friends.
5. Manage stress
Stress causes chemical and neurological changes that can destroy brain cells and damage the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory.
Make it a point to reduce the stress in your life by:
- Addressing problems as they happen. Don’t let them fester and cause you to stress out.
- Taking control over your life. Don’t let the expectations of others force you to do things you’re not willing to do.
- Acknowledging that if you can’t do it, you have to say NO! Everyone has only 24 hours in the day. Don’t take on more than you can handle.
- Practice yoga. It’s a great way to get centered and gain a fresh perspective on your life.
- Take breaks. Everyone deserves a few moments every now and then to collect their thoughts. It will help keep you calm.
- Meditate. Countless studies show that meditation is a powerful way to reduce stress and improve physical and mental health.
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6. Eat right
The foods you eat affect how your brain works. Eat junk and your brain turns to junk.
Start by basing your diet on a mix of all-natural fruits and vegetables, low-fat proteins, whole grains and limited healthy fats, such as olive oil. Put a special focus on:
Fish, expecially cold water fish, such as salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring that contain relatively high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain health.
Other sources of omega-3s, including walnuts, flax seed (ground and oil products), kidney and pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, winter squash, pumpkin seeds and soybeans.
Superfoods, including richly-colored fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants that help prevent cellular damage.
Green tea, which contains polyphenols, a type of antioxidant known to protect against free radicals that target brain cells. Some studies show that drinking green tea regularly can improve memory and overall brain performance.
Grape and cranberry juice, red wine (in moderation), berries and peanuts, which contain resveratol, a substance that boosts blood flow to the brain.
Tip: Limit foods that are high in saturated fat, such as red meat and dairy products. There is evidence that they could increase the risk of demetria in old age.
7. Take care of your health
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease aren’t the only health problems that can affect memory.
Some other common physical and mental issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, hormone imbalances and depression can negatively impact brain function.
If you find yourself suddenly experiencing recall or other cognitive issues, get a complete check-up. It may identify a physical or mental cause for your problems and you can work with a medical professional to find solutions.
Tip: Certain prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies can affect thinking and how the brain processes information. The most common ones are cold and allergy medications, sleeping pills and antidepressants. Consult with a medical professional or your pharmacist to find out whether something you’re taking could be affecting your memory.
8. Pay attention
In today’s fast-paced world, people lose focus and don’t pay attention to what they’re doing. Taking extra time to commit to memory pieces of information can go a long way toward improving recall.
For example, don’t just toss your keys anywhere when you get home. Make a point to think about where you place them. Take a picture in your mind of the color of the table you put them on, what the room looks like and the things you smell. Turning the small act of putting down your keys into a sensory experience will make it less likely that you’ll ever misplace them again.
Tip: The old trick of relating something new with something you already know is a proven way to enhance recall. For example, if you meet a new person named Mary, associate her with someone else you know named Mary. Consider what they have in common and what’s different about them. This will help you recall the name of your new friend Mary and all that you know about her.
Leveraging these simple lifestyle tips should have you well on your way to improving your memory and overall brain function and preventing further deterioration.
The products and information found on this website are not intended to replace professional medical advice or treatment. Statements and claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Our dietary supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or medical condition. Individual results may vary.
ThinkitDrinkit urges you to seek the advice of a qualified professional for any health concern lasting more than two weeks, and to share with your provider any information pertaining to your health and well-being, including the use of supplemental nutrition.
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