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.
Summary Research has shown that people who regularly consume lots of added sugar may have poorer memories and lower brain volumes than those who consume less sugar.
Summary Fish and fish oil supplements are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Consuming them may help improve short-term, working and episodic memory, especially in older people.
Summary Meditation isn’t just good for your body — it’s also good for your brain. Research suggests meditation may increase grey matter in the brain and improve spatial working memory.
Summary Obesity is a risk factor for cognitive decline. Maintaining a body mass index within the normal range may help you avoid a host of issues associated with obesity, including a poorer memory.
Lack of proper sleep has been associated with poor memory for quite some time. Sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation, a process in which short-term memories are strengthened and transformed into long-lasting memories. Research shows that if you are sleep deprived, you could be negatively impacting your memory. For example, one study looked at the effects of sleep in 40 children between the ages of 10 and 14. One group of children was trained for memory tests in the evening, then tested the following morning after a night’s sleep. The other group was trained and tested on the same day, with no sleep between training and testing. The group that slept between training and testing performed 20% better on the memory tests. Another study found that nurses working the night shift made more mathematical errors and that 68% of them scored lower on memory tests compared to nurses working the day shift. Health experts recommend adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health.
Summary Studies have consistently associated sufficient sleep with better memory performance. Sleep helps consolidate memories. You’re also likely to perform better on memory tests if you’re well rested than if you’re sleep deprived.
Summary Practicing mindfulness techniques has been associated with increased memory performance. Mindfulness is also linked to reduced age-related cognitive decline.
7. Drink Less Alcohol
Consuming too many alcoholic beverages can be detrimental to your health in many ways and can negatively impact your memory. Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that raises your blood alcohol levels to 0.08 grams per ml or above. Studies have shown it alters the brain and results in memory deficits. While having a drink or two now and then is perfectly healthy, avoiding excessive alcohol intake is a smart way to protect your memory.
Summary Alcohol has neurotoxic effects on the brain, including reducing memory performance. Occasional moderate drinking isn’t an issue, but binge drinking can damage your hippocampus, a key area of your brain associated with memory.
8. Train Your Brain
Summary Games that challenge your brain may help you strengthen your memory and may even reduce the risk of dementia.
9. Cut Down on Refined Carbs
Summary Like added sugar, refined carbohydrates lead to a spike in blood sugar levels, which can damage your brain over time. Diets high in refined carbs have been associated with dementia, cognitive decline and reduced brain function.
Vitamin D is an important nutrient that plays many vital roles in the body. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to a host of health issues, including a reduction in cognitive function. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to a greater risk of developing dementia. Vitamin-D deficiency is very common, especially in colder climates and in those with darker skin. Speak with your doctor about getting a blood test to find out if you need a vitamin D supplement.
Summary Vitamin-D deficiency is very common, especially in colder climates, and has been associated with age-related cognitive decline and dementia. If you think you might have low levels of vitamin D, ask your doctor for a blood test.
Exercise is important for overall physical and mental health. Research has established that it’s beneficial for the brain and may help improve memory in people of all ages, from children to older adults. Many studies have shown exercise may increase the secretion of neuro-protective 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.
Summary Exercise brings incredible benefits for your whole body, including your brain. Even moderate exercise for short periods has been shown to improve cognitive performance, including memory, across all age groups.
12. Choose Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Consuming a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods may help improve your memory. Antioxidants help lower inflammation in the body by reducing oxidative stress caused by free radicals. You can consume antioxidants in foods like fruits, vegetables and teas. A recent review of nine studies with more than 31,000 people found that those who ate more fruits and vegetables had lower risks of cognitive decline and dementia compared to those who consumed less of these nutritious foods.
Summary Anti-inflammatory foods are great for your brain, especially berries and other foods that are high in antioxidants. To incorporate more anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, you can’t go wrong by consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Summary Curcumin is a potent antioxidant. Animal studies have shown it reduces inflammation and amyloid plaques in the brain. However, more research in humans is needed.
14. Add Some Cocoa to Your Diet
Summary Cocoa is high in antioxidants that may help improve memory performance. Make sure to choose dark chocolate with 70% cacao or higher so you get a concentrated dose of antioxidants.
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All the best Jan