Do you often misplace your car keys or walk into a room, only to forget why you went there? You probably despair that your memory is not what it used to be and it’s likely that you’re right. Just as every other part of our body ages, so, too, does our brain.
Here are some tips to help improve your memory and get your grey matter into gear.
“Use it or lose it” should be your mantra when it comes to memory.
People who adopt a ‘brain-healthy’ lifestyle, which includes exercise, no smoking, a nutritious diet and hobbies, have a reduced risk of developing dementia.
Keeping your brain active is also thought to build reserves of brain cells and enhance their connections.
Many lifestyle factors can have a significant ‘memory-zapping’ effect on your brain.
Alcohol: Interferes with short-term memory and damages dendrites in the brain, which
pass on messages between brain cells.
Insomnia: Can reduce your ability to retrieve memories and leave you feeling forgetful.
Smoking: Limits the amount of oxygen and blood flow to the brain.
Stress: A new study showed that stress activates an enzyme, kinase C protein that undermines short term memory.
Some medications: Tranquilisers, muscle relaxants, sleeping tablets, antidepressants and medication for high blood pressure can sometimes contribute to fuzzy thinking or cause some loss of memory capacity.
EAT FOR YOUR IQ Want to think smarter? Then feed your brain.
Berries with benefits: Blueberries get their pigment from an antioxidant called anthocyanin, which may improve concentration, co-ordination and short-term memory. Strawberries are thought to have similar benefits and may help protect against memory loss.
Broccoli Boost: This humble vegetable is high in substances which work in the brain the same way that medication for Alzheimer’s disease does – by blocking an enzyme that causes the breakdown of brain cells.
Excellent Eggs: Eggs are high in choline, a B complex vitamin. Lack of choline has been linked to poor memory and concentration, while the right amount can assist brain cells to communicate more effectively.
Grain Gains: Whole grains like brown rice and rye bread are packed with folate, B12 and B6, They help break down a chemical called homocysteine, which in high levels has been linked to Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
Salmon Smart: Cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring are packed with healthy fatty acids called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These have been shown to assist all of the brain’s thinking functions.
According to a new study at Stanford University in California, the brain only chooses to remember memories it thinks are most relevant, and actively suppresses those that are similar but less used, helping to lessen the cognitive load and prevent confusion.
So if you’re frustrated that inspite of following these tips you still forget some things, be thankful you don’t remember everything. It means your brain is working properly
Be well and live life to its fullest.
Rowell Bulan M.D.
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