5 Things to Improve Your Memory

Did you ever wish you could install a
few more gigabytes of RAM (Random-Access-Memory) into your brain or have I been
watching too many science fiction flicks? It’s just so frustrating when you
can’t remember if you unplugged the coffee pot, where you parked the car or
what the name of the new girl at work is! “Memory”, the faculty by which the mind stores and recalls
information, is a complex 3-stage process. First, the brain encodes information
that it takes in, then it consolidates and stores that information in certain
areas of the brain, and finally, it retrieves that stored information.

If your memory isn’t as
sharp as what it used to be, don’t just attribute it to “getting old” and give
up! Certain lifestyle factors may lead to premature memory problems, no matter
what the person’s age is and, assuming you have a healthy brain, there are
lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your memory.

  1. Get your ZZZ’s. Getting
    a good night’s rest on a consistent basis avoids fatigue which can have a
    negative effect on memory and concentration at any age.
  2. Lower your stress
    level; stop trying to do everything at once. When you are stressed, cortisol
    (the stress hormone) is increased in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the
    control center of the brain for memory and learning and an increased cortisol
    level may interfere with encoding and retrieving information. Shireen Sindi,
    researcher in the department of neurology at McGill University says that,
    “As you get older, chronic elevated cortisol levels are linked to memory
    impairment and a smaller hippocampus” and warns us that long term, this can be
  3. Exercise your
    body…move it! Exercise reduces stress, increases blood flow to the brain,
    causes nerve cells to release critical proteins, and encourages your brain to
    work at optimum capacity. A 12-month study showed that the brain’s memory
    center of people who exercised regularly was growing 1% to 2% per year instead
    of declining in size, which is the typical scenario.
  4. Help yourself to
    some “brain food”. (Contrary to what my
    12-year-old son says the night before a test, this is not pizza!) Our brains are made up of 60% fat and need
    healthy fats like those found in avocados, coconut oil, salmon, beans and
    legumes, chia seeds, and nuts. Other foods that have been shown to improve
    memory include blueberries, broccoli, spinach, red cabbage, rosemary, and dark
  5. Exercise your
    brain. According to Professor Stuart Zola, PhD, of the Emory School of Medicine,
    keeping socially and intellectually active are “probably
    the most important things you can do to help extend and maintain your cognitive
    abilities for a longer period of time in life.” So, go ahead; learn new things, read, play games that require you to
    think…flex that brain muscle because, like so many things, it’s use it or lose it!