12 Simple and Natural Ways to Improve Memory
Memory is essential to brain function, with working memory supporting problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills. On the other hand, episodic memory facilitates conscious, long-term recollection of experiences.
Unfortunately, one study featuring memory tests established that cognitive decline occurs, causing gradual memory loss. Moreover, the ageing process is among the risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease that cause a decline in memory performance and other cognitive abilities.
Adopt a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is a gateway to a healthy body. Unhealthy foods rich in sugars, starch, unsaturated fats, and sodium are bad for your health, causing metabolic medical conditions like insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease.
One literature review featuring peer-reviewed studies established a link between diet-induced metabolic disturbances and disruption in the modulation of brain homeostasis. Brain homeostasis is the process via which the brain communicates with the body, maintaining a healthy balance.
Moreover, a group of researchers in one study examined brain grey matter alterations among 64 pre-diabetic participants and a control group. They monitored the participants' carbohydrate, protein, fat, and calorie intake.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the pre-diabetic participants had lower brain grey matter volume than those with average health biomarkers. The brain's grey matter has a large volume of brain cells called neurons that process information, facilitate memory function, and regulate emotions.
Therefore, a lower brain grey matter volume is among the risk factors for cognitive decline and long-term memory loss. Moreover, unlike Alzheimer’s disease, which accelerates age-related memory loss, an unhealthy diet impacts the emotional state and brain in the younger population.
However, you can improve memory by utilizing the health benefits of a balanced diet. A healthy diet rich in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K, flavonoids, and folate helps increase grey matter volume and boost memory.
One report recommends leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli, nuts, berries, and fatty fish to increase blood flow to the brain cells and increase grey matter volume. Moreover, you can consult your doctor about dietary supplements like fish oil to improve your memory.
Laughter is the best medicine for various conditions, including memory decline. One expert review on laughter and memory research shows a connection between emotional and cognitive health because laughing improves how you recall information by lowering stress levels.
According to the expert, elevated stress hormone (cortisol) levels in the hippocampal brain section damage the neurons responsible for working memory, causing memory issues in young and older adults. However, laughter helps you get past mental fatigue resulting from emotional responses to stress.
Therefore, consider practising laughter yoga to enhance memory, among other cognitive benefits. Laughter yoga combines breathing exercises and voluntary laughter to improve memory and enhance cognitive functions.
Enrich Your Brain Health with Board and Card Games
Board games like Sodoku, crossword puzzles, chess, and scrabble are great brain exercise forms, helping short-term/ working memory and long-term/ episodic memory function. One research shows that such memory games stimulate the brain cells in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. The hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex are the sections of the brain involved in memory formation and complex thought.
Besides being fun, memory games like board and card games reinforce neural connections between brain cells. Second, such games stimulate dopamine production.
One study shows a correlation between dopamine and episodic memory persistence, improving memory and slowing down age-related memory loss. Therefore, enjoy board games as a mental exercise to get the blood pumping through your neurons to prevent brain problems for long-term and short-term memory.
Enjoy a Full Night’s Sleep for Emotional and Brain Health
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Sleep quality and quantity affect memory formation or consolidation, which entails moving relevant events from short-term to long-term. Moreover, memory consolidation links related memories, creating a comprehensive bigger picture or better event recollection.
One of many scientific references posits that memory consolidation occurs during non-rapid-eye movement (NREM) sleep, which is the deepest stage of sleep. Therefore, a good night's sleep is necessary to improve sleep and prevent memory problems.
Moreover, one study highlights inadequate sleep as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, alongside metabolic problems like high blood pressure. Therefore, given the role sleep plays in memory, consider creating a sleep schedule to help you get enough sleep and improve your memory.
Your sleep schedule could include limiting screen time before bedtime because the blue light emitted from screens impedes melatonin (primary sleep hormone) formation. Also, you can include mindfulness meditation sessions for lowering stress since stress hormones like cortisol prevent you from getting enough sleep.
Practice Intentional Learning
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As stated earlier, cognitive decline, like memory loss, is inextricable. Moreover, the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, a memory model highlighting the decrease in the brain’s memory retention over time, shows that memories shift from 100% to 60% within the first few days of learning.
Research shows that while memory loss slows down at 60%, a gradual loss ensues from the 60% mark. However, like exercising regularly keeps your body in shape, regular brain exercise prevents memory decline after learning.
According to one study, processing information in your memory takes eight seconds of intense focus. Therefore, be intentional about challenging your brain to learn something new.
Consider using memory aides like mnemonic devices and tests to engage your memory and improve other cognitive abilities. Mnemonic devices allow you to use your own words, including self-composed songs and acronyms, to familiarize new concepts and improve memory.
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Besides mental stimulation, physical exercise is also good for your memory. One research study shows that acute and chronic exercises improve memory function. The study is one of many scientific references that recommend an exercise design featuring both exercise types as a potential intervention for improving how the memory processes different kinds of information.
So, How exactly does exercise improve memory? Researchers found various direct and indirect factors linking exercise to improved memory function.
First, physical exercise keeps the blood pumping, increasing blood flow to the brain. During one study among subjects performing aerobic exercise, researchers found that the movement increased blood flow to the brain. Moreover, a subsequent study showed that a 35% increase in blood flow to the brain improved various cognitive functions, including verbal memory. Moreover, a 92% increase in the brain's oxygen concentration improves overall memory functions in young and older populations.
Researchers found the second direct link between physical exercise and memory enhancement is that exercise triggers neuroplastic alterations. Neuroplastic alterations (neuroplasticity) entail the formation of neuron networks that fire together to create electrochemical or neural pathways that enhance various brain activities. One study established that aerobic exercise caused neuroplastic alterations for molecular targets that mediate learning and memory.
Third, exercise improves sleep quality and quantity, and as highlighted above, sleep plays a vital role in memory consolidation to boost memory performance. Moreover, sleep is also essential for a good mood, and one study associates a positive mood with better memory retention, improving short-term memory. Therefore, aerobic exercise indirectly enhances memory and prevents cognitive decline by improving sleep quality and quantity.
So, consider adding aerobic exercise or other fitness routines to your daily schedule. Such activities keep the blood pumping and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is also a risk factor for cognitive decline.
Manage Health Conditions That May Cause Cognitive Decline or Memory Loss
Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and dementia are the primary causes of long-term memory decline associated with the ageing process. However, while such conditions are irreversible, proper management helps delay cognitive decline.
According to one expert review, memory training and external memory aids can slow disease progression in neurodegenerative diseases. Moreover, the review recommends simple non-medical interventions, including multisensory therapies like aromatherapy, music, dance, and mindful meditation can help slow disease progression.
However, preventative therapies are more important in preventing memory decline. As stated, metabolic lifestyle diseases like insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and blood pressure are risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases and mild cognitive impairment. Therefore, consider lifestyle adjustments like a balanced diet and regular exercise to improve memory and reduce the risk of overall cognitive decline.
Add Neuroprotective Foods to Your Diet
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A balanced diet benefits the brain's cognitive functions, including memory, because a healthy body equals a healthy mind. However, some foods have better memory-enhancing functions than others. For example, antioxidant foods like broccoli, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and nuts preserve memory by preventing oxidative stress-induced memory impairment.
One review recommends pomegranate, honey, dates, black seeds, figs, and oily fish as functional foods that enhance memories. The foods highlighted above have phytochemicals, including phenols, polyphenols, alkaloids, tannins, and flavonoids, with antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties for cognitive enhancement.
Exercise Brain Muscles
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Besides physical exercises, mental exercises that strengthen your brain muscles are essential for optimal memory function because they boost memory. Brain exercises are crucial for neuroplasticity, helping to form new pathways that promote learning. Learning is a vital memory component because it facilitates memory function's encoding and retrieval processes.
As stated above, board and card games exercise brain muscles by facilitating focus and concentration, strengthening existing neural pathways. However, acquiring new skills is also vital for memory encoding because it promotes the formation of new pathways that improve your memory.
Neuroplasticity exercises that enhance your memory can be as simple as learning new vocabulary or a new craft like gardening or knitting.
Therefore, consider learning a new skill to improve your memory.
Nurture an Active Social Life
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Humans are social beings, and improved memory function is among the many health benefits of positive social interactions. One study review established that lonely individuals are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's than people in active social circles. Moreover, it revealed that participating in social activities delayed Alzheimer’s onset.
A robust support system improves your memory and is essential for your well-being. One report shows that spending at least ten minutes talking to others improves memory and memory test scores.
Keep Stress at Bay
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As earlier stated, cortisol, the primary stress hormone, impedes optimum brain function. Moreover, one study established a link between elevated stress levels and reduced brain grey matter volume and density. Therefore, Consider Adding stress management techniques like mindfulness meditation to your daily routine.
Consider Supplementation with Neuroprotective Herbal Remedies
Nature abounds with herbal remedies possessing various therapeutic benefits, including neuroprotection. Neuroprotective elements prevent neural cell degradation that causes cognitive decline, including memory loss.
Morilite, a plant extract from the cistanche tubusola plant, is one such neuroprotective herbal remedy. Cistanche tubusola is a herb used in Chinese medicine, and one study associates it with anti-depressant properties and cognitive enhancement. Therefore, Morilite is a clinically tested, GMO-free supplement that avails cistanche tubusola in a palatable form.
How can I sharpen my memory?
Sharpening your memory is possible and simpler than it sounds. All you need to do is add the lifestyle adjustments recommended above to your daily routine and practice consistency to improve memory and overall cognitive function.