How to Improve Your Memory

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Did you know that you lose thousands of brain cells every day and that over the course of your life you can expect to lose up to seven percent of your total brain cell count? While it’s a pretty scary thought, however, flagging mind power isn’t an inescapable fact of life. Many experts believe that the reason your memory gets worse as you get older is not simply a natural degenerative process, but also because of neglect and that a few health and lifestyle adjustments can make all the difference.

Eat well

Fats make up 60 percent of the brain so it stands to reason that the better the fat in the diet, the better the brain. Our favorite brain-boosting foods are oily fish such as mackerel and sardines. “Fish oils – omega 3s in particular – help maintain brain cells and build stronger and better connections between them,” says Professor Ian Robertson, author of Stay Sharp with the Mind Doctor. “Brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, blueberries and spinach can also help improve communication between brain cells and maintain healthy cells in the older brain.”

Remember a face

Are you one of those people who forgets someone’s name just moments after you’ve been introduced? Try to link the person with some other defining detail  color of hair or clothing, for example, or the tone of the person’s voice. “The more associations that exist in your memory store, the greater the number of angles from which you can access this memory and the easier it will be to recall.” says Joel Levy, author of Boost Your Memory Power

Eat curry

One of the main spices in curry powder, turmeric, could help to improve your memory. Traditionally used in ayurvedic medicine, it contains a compound called curcumin, a polyphenols antioxidant that can help to prevent brain degeneration and inflammation. What better excuse do you need for a spicy vindaloo than that?

Plant power

The traditional Chinese remedy herbs called Ginkgo Biloba has been shown to boost memory power. “Various Studies suggest that Ginkgo Biloba is capable of improving cognitive function as demonstrated by better concentration, better mental sharpness and improved memory,” says top integrative medical doctor, Dr Andrew Weil. Other powerful herbs to try include the ayurvedic herb is ashwanganda (Indian Ginseng), which could help to regenerate damaged neurons in the brain and improve alertness, and lemon balm, which research has found can increase the activity of acetylcholene, a neurotransmitter that improves your ability to learn and store info.

Moderate Wine

Although knocking back several large G&Ts a night actually harms your brain, a glass of wine a day (extra points if you make it organic) could actually boost your memory. French researchers found that women who drank two or more glasses of wine daily were 2.5 times more likely to score in the top 10 percent in tests. This could be due to the high level of antioxidants called polyphenols in red wine which combat free radicals damage that leads to cell degeneration.

Stock up on b vitamins

Make sure you eat food rich in folic acid and other B vitamins as they help your body to get rid of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid that has been linked to an increased risks of Alzheimers. A Dutch study found that people who took 800 mcg of folic acid a day had less age-related memory loss over the course of three years than those who didn’t. Foods which contain these vitamins include wholegrain cereals, rice, nuts, milk, eggs, meats, liver, fish, fruits, and leafy green vegetables

Don’t panic

Although moderate stress can actually be quite stimulating, when your brain comes under intense pressure, it can dull your memory. When you are under stress, chemicals called glutamates are pumped into the brain. If this stress is severe or prolonged these glutamates can corrode connections in the part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is the memory organizing center.

Get enough sleep

Most of us know by now that we need at least seven or eight hours sleep in order to perform properly, but did you know that chronic sleep disturbances can also severely affect your memory? “This is because a large part of the ‘lay down’ and consolidation period of learning occurs during sleep,” says Rita Carter, author of Use Your Brain To Beat Memory Loss.

Stock up on supplements

While maximizing your nutrition through diet is always the preferable option, for those wanting piece of mind (no pun intended), supplements can help too. Two of the best memory-boosters are acetyl-l-carnitine (found in red meat), and co-enzyme Q10 (found in nuts, fish and leafy greens) which increases energy production in the mitochondria, the ‘power plants’ of all cells.

Engage your brain

As with the rest of your body, one of the most effective ways to keep your mind razor sharp is to keep it active, and that means both intellectually and socially. So get those little grey cells working! Why not attempt a cryptic crossword, watch News night, buy a puzzle book or join a debating society – anything to help keep your brain active and ticking over on a regular basis.

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