Although things like Alzheimer’s Disease cannot be cured, symptoms of memory loss can often be managed early in the course of disease. Some memory loss symptoms include getting lost, or losing track of appointments. This article introduces 10 quick fixes to sharpen your memory. However, since some types of memory loss are highly reversible, it is also important to speak with a health professional when you first notice memory loss in your life.
1. Increase fresh foods
Across several studies, a Mediterranean diet rich in plant-based foods (e.g. fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts) significantly improved brain function. However, the importance of eating more fresh foods goes far beyond just fruits & vegatables. Specific nutrient deficits (like Vitamin B12 deficiency or low iron) often cause fatigue and memory loss. When trying to boost energy and memory levels, start by reviewing your nutrition.
To start, try increasing these fresh foods to boost your memory:
- Leafy, green vegetables — Are often high in micro-nutrients like folic acid, which can improve working memory.
- Nuts and legumes — Many nuts contain healthy fats that can improve brain function, in addition to being a good source of many important vitamins and minerals.
- Fish and Omega-3 fats — Fish rich in Omega 3 fats (like salmon) can reduce inflammation, and promote optimal brain function.
- Colourful fruits and vegetables — Contain antioxidants and pigments (like beta-carotene) which reduce inflammation, promote healing, and reduce cellular aging.
2. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise is a powerful way to boost your memory. Your brain runs on oxygen, and physical activity immediately increases blood flow to your brain. Exercise, however, also has countless health benefits which improve brain health. This includes:
- Improving sleep quality & energy levels
- Reversing metabolic disease, which improves brain function
- Improving blood flow and blood vessels in the brain
- Improving oxygen use by the brain
Because exercise has so many beneficial effects on brain health, it is a critical first step to try when noticing memory problems.
3. Enhance social connection
Social isolation is harmful for our brain and our memory. Living alone not only makes us depressed, but it also prevents us from using our brain while awake. People who live alone speak less, solve fewer problems, sleep more, have more fatigue, and may develop memory loss quicker. You know what they say… if you don’t use it, you lose it. Social activities help us to feel happy and engaged with daily life.
4. Maintain hearing
Although we do not know why hearing loss can accelerate memory loss, we do know that people who cannot hear well often withdraw from engaging activities (e.g. music, conversations and television). This can provoke social exclusion and disengagement, which causes memory loss to occur more rapidly. Correcting hearing loss with devices like hearing aids has been shown to boost memory for some people.
5. Restore gut health
Over the past 5 years, our gut microbiota (bacteria in our gut) has been implicated in the onset and progression of memory loss. We carry either healthy or unhealthy bacteria in our gut, and this affects things like:
- Neurotransmitters available for brain cells
- Digestion of important nutrients
- Inflammation in our body
- Inflammation in our brain
One quick and easy strategy for brain health is to swap out milk for probiotic-rich foods (e.g. Kefir) at least once a day.
6. Create alcohol-free fun time
Alcohol use is strongly associated with the onset of dementia in later life, and people become more sensitive to the negative effects of drinking later in life. If you haven’t already done so, try swapping your usual ‘happy hour’ or ‘night cap’ for fun activities like a comedy show or board games.
7. Practice language skills
The parts of our brain that control speech are closely linked with the parts of our brain that control problem solving and working memory. Yet, we often think memory games should focus on memorizing lists and random facts. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Practicing language skills (e.g. learning tongue twisters) provides a fun, easy way to re-train your brain.
8. Form new habits
Un-learning is as important as learning new skills, in that it encourages our brain to form new connections and refresh old memories. We only form a few habits and rituals in our life and, as a result, most people only use a small fraction of our brain. Make a point of forming new habits (e.g. brushing your teeth with the opposite hand) to promote something called whole brain integration.
9. Practice new movement patterns
Rhythmic dance is one of the most ignored tips to improve brain function. Not only does dancing provide the benefits of exercise, but dance also uplifts our mood. Finally, practicing new movements enhances our brain health with a powerful type of learning (e.g. action mirroring) that enhances short-term memory.
10. Learn a new skill
Sometimes people give up on learning new things as they get older. This lack of interest in learning new things, however, can make memory problems worse. If you notice something you would like to learn, ask for help from a friend or family member to learn more about this skill. Learning a new skill will yield many dividends for your brain health.
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