As with other aspects of our body, we know that memory gets weaker with age – plus, studies show that short-term memory is further impaired during times of stress. But research now suggests that, with the right encouragement, the brain can improve at any stage in life. This means our memory doesn’t have to get worse, it can actually get better. Here’s how…
Feed your brain
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are crucial for a healthy brain and are just as vital when it comes to supporting our memory. They work by reinforcing brain-cell membranes and nerve cells, while keeping inflammation in check. Try Sarah Chapman Omega + Booster Supplement. Vitamin B12, found primarily in eggs, is also shown to aid memory and learning by protecting these same nerve cells. Make sure to account for it in your diet – our recommendation is Bear Perform Supplement, which combines vitamin B12 with the antioxidant vitamin C.
It’s been shown that meditation can consistently reduce our stress levels and improve sleep, and it is also an excellent tool for supporting your memory. A recent study published in Behavioural Brain Research shows that short, daily meditation not only enhances memory and recognition memory, but it also improves attention span. If you are new to meditating, download the Headspace app, which has a series of techniques and routines that fit into whatever time you have available in your day.
Fasting can do incredible things for the memory, as professor Mark Mattson, a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, explains. “When we fast, we use up the energy stores in the liver, and once they’re depleted, we produce ketones, which are great energy sources for brain nerve cells.” Two of the most popular fasting plans are the 5:2 diet – where you eat normally for five days a week and cut back to around 500-600 calories for the remaining two – and time-restricted eating, which essentially means extending the time you are not eating between dinner and breakfast, and ultimately working towards eating only within an eight-hour window. One isn’t better than the other, so choose the option that works with your lifestyle.
Boost your fast with exercise
If there is one thing better for memory than fasting, it’s exercising and fasting at the same time, says professor Mattson. “This increases ketone levels significantly.” Aerobic exercise (such as swimming, running or cycling) is particularly helpful for memory and learning, as it produces brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which encourages new neurons, specifically in the hippocampus, where long-term memories are organized. Try getting in a morning run or swim each day before breaking your fast.
Challenge your brain
The brain likes a challenge – the more it overcomes, the better it can perform and the better its memory recall. You might think that your vigorous reading habit is sufficient to support your memory function but, as former US surgeon general Dr Richard H. Carmona points out in his book Canyon Ranch: 30 Days To A Better Brain, it’s not enough. “Reading for pleasure alone is not enough of a challenge to make permanent changes in the brain; you need to focus as if you were going to be tested on it.” A great way to do this is to mix some non-fiction into your reading list. There are also some brilliant brain-training apps available, such as Lumosity, CogniFit and A Clockwork Brain, which consistently change up the style and format of their challenges to keep your brain on its toes.
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