The brain is the body’s hard drive that stores and processes various types of information. Although it is a remarkable organ, there are times when you cannot find your car key and forget to buy something important. There are a number of factors that affect memory, which include genetics, level of physical activity, sleep, diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Here’s how to improve your memory and keep your brain healthy.
Five Simple Tips to Improve Memory
1. Eat Brain Healthy Foods
Science has proven that a healthy diet significantly impacts physical health, and research has shown that following the Mediterranean and DASH diets which focus on consuming specific brain-healthy foods, reduces the risk of developing mental disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
This gut-brain connection has given rise to nutritional psychiatry — a field of science that uses foods and supplements along with lifestyle modification to help support an individual’s mental health needs. Thus, given the strong link between the gut and brain, strategic dietary changes support your mental well-being and overall cognitive function.
You can enhance your memory and improve your mood by:
- Eating more whole foods and high-fiber foods.
- Increasing your consumption of daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
- Avoiding high-sugar drinks, and packaged and processed foods.
2. Consume Omega-3 Rich Foods
Omega-3 fatty acids help to enhance memory. The brain needs omega-3 fatty acids, and DHA in particular, to function optimally. Naturally found in fatty fish, nuts, seeds, plant oils, and fortified foods, omega-3 fatty acids lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other mental health issues.
A 2013 study showed that DHA improves memory and the reaction time of memory in healthy, young adults as compared to those with low DHA diets. The study further concluded that the women experienced improved episodic memory (the ability to recall past events) than the men.
Include omega-3-rich foods in your diet to ensure healthy cognitive function such as improved working memory and episodic memory, and increased blood flow to the brain. You can also opt for omega-3 supplements as an alternative to fulfilling your daily recommended needs.
Exercise is highly beneficial for the body and the mind. Studies have shown that medium-intensity exercises can improve thinking and memory within six months. While exercise is necessary to increase muscle mass, maintain body weight, and stave off chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, etc., it also boosts thinking and memory skills by stimulating physiological changes or by reducing stress and anxiety.
According to research, aerobic exercise, among other exercises, yield better results.
For a medium-intensity exercise, engage in physical activity for 30 to 60 minutes at least three to five times a week. This is known to support mental well-being and improve moods.
Several studies have shown that meditation training can enhance various mental functions such as emotional regulation, improved attention, and memory. Regular meditation increases blood flow to the brain, which leads to a stronger memory and concentration. Moreover, meditation has been proved to improve overall mental capabilities including enhancing memory and learning.
But what kind of meditation? Some simple meditation techniques that have been linked to improved memory are mindfulness meditation and awareness meditation. These techniques lower levels of stress and anxiety and are linked to improved brain functions like memory.
5. Quality Sleep
Healthy sleep is important for optimal learning and memory function. Sleep helps us consolidate information – the process by which the memory becomes stable, which occurs in the hours prior to awakening.
You need to get quality sleep of seven to nine hours to maximize your memory. This essentially ensures that the memories are retained and can be recalled.
Making small improvements in your diet, nutrition, sleep, and overall lifestyle can lead to enhancing your memory and mental health.