Our Lifestyle: 3 Ways to Improve Your Memory

Article by Make The Days Count Contributor Chris Bennett


How good is your memory?  If you are like me, you have selective memory meaning you can remember some things well, others not at all.


Whether you have trouble with short-term recall or long term memories, there are several different improvements you can make to bolster the effectiveness of each.  It is important to know that your memory system incorporates many functions in your physical brain.  Knowing this, keeping a healthy lifestyle is essential and exponentially beneficial. 


Specific foods ate not in abundance, but on a regular basis can feed your body the nutrients it needs to keep moving effectively.  Find a way to manage your stress as this has more of an effect of your mind than you may think.  Sleep habits should be major focal points in your life as well if you notice a decline in your ability to store and recall memory.


What You Eat

What to eat?  Specifics to look for when at the grocery store should include B vitamins, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids.  B vitamins found in greens such as spinach and broccoli aid in the production of energy and also in your bodies’ ability to release energy. We need this to stay awake and attentive.  If veggies are not your thing, you are not alone, but try to mix it up a little.  Strawberries, melons oranges and soybeans are also good sources of vitamin B. 


Antioxidants are crucial in keeping tissue and muscles in good shape.  Why is this important?  Well your brain, metaphorically, is very similar to, say, your bicep.  The more resistant training bicep curls you do on a consistent basis the stronger your arms, right?  With your brain it’s the same concept.  The more exercise you give it, such as reading or even using your non-dominant hand to complete a task, the more your brain works and exercises previously unused pathways. You won’t get a bigger brain, but you might get a little smarter.


Foods such as blueberries tomatoes and even green tea have very useful antioxidants.  Omega-3 fatty acids help with cognition, or your thought process.  The better you can think, the more you can retain.  Fish is the best source of this hands down.  Specifically, salmon, tuna, and halibut, grilled or broiled, NOT fried, are all excellent sources.


Stress and Sleep

Other habits you can work on besides food intake are stress and sleep.  These are two separate developments but they affect each other in such a close way that it is best to discuss them together.


Stress of course affects your blood pressure, which affects your sleep.  Ample resources are available help people cope with stress.  However too often medications or therapy seem to find their way in as a quick fix.  Stress affects your memory by hampering your ability to concentrate, as does lack of sleep.


Sleep itself is critical to memory consolidation.  You need this consolidation if you want to be able to access your long-term memory or want to have any memory at all.  The idea is to attain deep sleep, where your brain repairs itself from the daily activity and enhances your memories ability to function effectively.


Pay attention to your body!  Your memory is not simply about names dates and places.  It also involves learned motor movements and reflexes.  


My suggestion is start at the basics.  Research biofeedback techniques to help with stress and exercise your brain by reading something interesting (i.e. not work papers!) before you go to bed.  Your memory will improve if given the proper resources, but we can only attain better memory through our own actions.


A final note, rest should NOT include TV.  TV stimulates your brain and strains your eyes.  BE PHYSICAL.  Walk run, anything.  You do not have to be a gym rat.  Try Yoga for example.  Take care of yourself with these simple habits and you will see a positive effect on your memory.


“Life itself does its best to take the memory of magic away from us.  You don’t know its happening until one day you feel like you’ve lost something, but you’re not sure what it is.”
-Robert McCammon


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Posted on 24 November, 2008 in Balance, Fitness & Health
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