by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation, and suddenly you can’t remember how long you’ve known the person you’re talking to? Or maybe you’re in a meeting, and you can’t remember what was said five minutes ago? If so, then you may have some trouble with your memory and should consider looking into some ways to help improve your memory.
Sometimes, you have to trick your brain into remembering things — and it only seems to get worse with age.
If you’re struggling with memory loss or just want to improve your memory and ability to recall facts, these seven tricks will help you do just that!
1. Physical activity is the key to improving your memory
Exercise helps build new brain cells and keeps existing ones healthy. It also increases blood flow, which brings more oxygen to the brain, ensuring that your neurons have all they need to function optimally.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends approximately 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise for most healthy adults. Physical activities such as brisk walking or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as jogging are also preferred to be done throughout the week. If you do not have time for a full workout, you can squeeze in a few 10-minute walks throughout your day.
2. Limit added sugar to your meals
Sugar is bad for your brain and can contribute to several mental health problems like depression and anxiety. If you’re struggling with depression, try cutting out processed sugar as much as possible and see how you feel.
Studies indicate that consuming a lot of sugar can lead to poor memory and reduced brain volume, particularly in the area of the brain where short-term memory is stored. If you want to help improve your memory, a key strategy is to reduce your daily sugar intake.
3. Stay mentally active
The more you challenge your brain, the better it will function. Challenge yourself with crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, and other activities that stimulate your brain cells. Learn something new every day — even if it’s just a new word on the way home from work or a new route to take on your walk in the park. Doing this will help keep your brain cells firing on all cylinders and help improve your memory.
4. Try a fish oil supplement
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) as well as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
These fats (EPA and DHA) are responsible for overall health and have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, relieve stress, anxiety, slow mental decline, and reduce inflammation throughout the body as well as in the brain.
Many studies have shown that consuming fish and taking fish oil supplements may improve memory, more so in older people.
A 2015 review of 28 studies found that adults with mild symptoms of memory loss experienced improved episodic memory when they took supplements rich in DHA and EPA, like fish oil.
DHA and EPA are two types of omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your brain healthy and functioning well while also reducing inflammation in your body, which has been linked to cognitive decline.
5. Socialize regularly
The more you socialize, the more likely it is that you will recall names. Even if you are not a naturally outgoing person (extrovert), there are plenty of ways to improve your social skills so that you can improve your memory.
You can join a club or take a class. You can take part in an activity that requires teamwork and cooperation, such as sports or volunteering. The key is to practice interacting with others.
6. Maintain a moderate weight
Do you want to improve your memory? Maintain a healthy body weight. Maintaining a moderate weight is important for your overall health and is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body in the best condition.
Many studies have linked obesity as a risk factor for cognitive decline.
Obesity may cause changes to memory-associated genes in the brain, which may negatively affect your memory.
Obesity can also lead to insulin resistance as well as inflammation — both can negatively affect the brain.
A study of 50 people between the ages of 18 and 35 found that a higher body mass index was associated with significantly worse memory performance.
7. Structure and organize
The structure and organization of your environment have a direct impact on your ability to remember. If you’re like most people, your brain is already full of information and experiences. You can’t possibly store everything in there, so you need to be selective about what you retain and what you forget.
The easiest way to do this is to create an environment that helps you make those decisions for yourself. When we organize our physical space, we set ourselves up for success by creating a system for remembering where things are located and how they work. And in doing such, you can help improve your memory.