Whether we’re trying CrossFit or keto, we’re always looking for ways to improve ourselves. However, in our quest for better performance, we often neglect the most important muscle of all: our brains. Research published in the BMJ suggests that up to 40 percent of Americans aged 65 or older are suffering from some form of memory loss. If that’s not scary enough, know this: According to a study conducted by psychologist Denise Park of the University of Michigan, we begin to lose some of our cognitive capabilities and retained memory as early as our 20s.
While the thought of your brain starting a steady downhill course at such an early age can be depressing, there’s hope yet. These science-backed memory boosters will help keep your mind sharp as you age, preserving your existing memories for decades to come. And when you want to turbocharge your cognitive capacity, master the 13 Tips for a Sharper Brain!
Start Your Day With Grapefruit
Starting your day with grapefruit might just ensure that your memories stay sharp as you age. Grapefruit is a good source of lycopene, a carotenoid pigment that research published in the European Journal of Pharmacology has found effective in preventing memory loss among animal test subjects. And on those days when grapefruit just won’t cut it, add these 3 Perfect Breakfast Meals for Blasting Belly Fat to your menu!
If you’ve ever found yourself forgetting names or where you’ve parked your car when you’re stressed out, you’re not alone. In fact, researchers at the University of Iowa have linked cortisol, a stress hormone, to short-term memory loss. However, strategies like meditation, unplugging from social media, and exercise can all help reduce your stress level fast, helping retain your memories in the process. If you’re ready to get your stress under control, the 30 Easy Ways to Fight Stress will have you feeling zen in no time.
Eat Some Oysters
Their purported aphrodisiac properties aren’t the only reason to add some oysters to your menu. Oysters are a great source of zinc, which a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition links to improved spatial working memory among middle-aged and elderly research subjects. And for more amazing self-improvement tips, check out the 40 Best Ways to Conquer Your 40s.
Laughter can do more than just make you happier: it’s also great for memory retention. A study conducted at Loma Linda University reveals that laughter reduced memory-sapping cortisol levels, increased learning ability, and improved subjects’ recall, as well. And remember: laughing is one of the 20 Genius Celeb Tricks for Always Looking Amazing in Photos.
Practicing mindfulness can help you make and retain those important memories for longer. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara found that participating in two weeks of mindfulness exercises improved study subjects’ GRE scores, boosting their working memory along the way.
Snack on Dark Chocolate
Go ahead and indulge that jones for chocolate—it might just help keep those memories intact. According to research conducted at Columbia University Medical Center, cocoa flavonols turned back the clock on memory decline in older study subjects. If you need more incentive to indulge, discover How Chocolate Will Boost Your Workout!
Hitting the gym does more than build your visible muscles. Regular exercise actually makes your brain more capable of creating and retaining memories. In fact, researchers at the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise actually increases the size of the hippocampus, the volume of which is associated with increased cognitive ability and memory retention.
Get Your Gut Bacteria in Balance
Loading up on probiotic foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt, and giving the good bacteria in your gut something to snack on in the form of the prebiotic fiber found in fruits and veggies might be the key to a better memory. Research at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children found that infections with a deleterious effect on gut bacteria caused memory issues in mice, so there’s no time like the present to get your gut microbiome in balance.
Use Mnemonic Devices
Those mnemonic devices you used as study aids in school are good for more than just acing tests. The results of a 2014 study reveal that the use of mnemonic devices was associated with improved memory recall, so if you’re feeling forgetful, mnemonic memory tricks might help you turn things around.
Spend Time With Friends
If you’re eager to keep your memory sharp, take the opportunity to socialize whenever possible. Research conducted at the University of Michigan reveals that just 10 minutes spent talking with a friend can yield significant improvements in memory and overall cognitive ability. And if you want a bigger social circle to spend time with, This is The Best Way to Make Friends!
Get Guacamole on That
If you need more incentive to add guacamole to that burrito, just say you’re doing it for your memory. A 2017 study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that the monounsaturated fatty acids found in foods like avocados may increase intelligence and improve organizational function in the brain, potentially improving memory retention over time.
Making time for a weekly game night could be the first step toward retaining your memories as you age. Researchers at the Université Bordeaux Ségalen and the Institute for European Expertise in Physiology found that adult patients who regularly played board games were 15 percent less likely to develop dementia than their non-game-playing peers. Scrabble, anyone?
Sprinkle on Some Cinnamon
Dusting a little cinnamon on your latte paves the path to a healthier mind and stronger memory later in life. The results of a study published in PLoS One reveal that mice given cinnamon extract supplementation exhibited fewer symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, including memory and cognitive issues, than a control group. To stay mentally and physically sharp, no matter what your age, add the 25 Foods That’ll Keep You Young Forever to your menu!
A thirsty brain is a forgetful brain. Even minor dehydration has been linked to reductions in functional memory, so if you want to be sure you’ll remember your boss’s wife’s name, where you left your keys, or the combination on your locker at the gym, keep a water bottle handy.
Try Something New
Feeling a bit forgetful? Try deviating from your everyday routine a bit, whether that means traveling, taking a new route to work, or trying a new class at the gym. Research published in Cell Press reveals that novelty improves the brain’s ability to learn new information, helping you remember and making you smarter in one fell swoop.
Get Some Sun
Getting a little controlled sun exposure could be the best thing you do for your memory. A review of research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggests that low vitamin D status is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, so don’t be afraid to spend a few minutes outdoors sans sunblock each day.
Snack on Almonds
One of the healthiest snacks on the market is also the best for your brain. According to study findings published in Brain Research Bulletin, snacking on almonds improved memory among animal test subjects. Between the beneficial effects of cocoa and almonds, those chocolate-covered nuts in your pantry are practically medicine.
Put Down Your Phone
You rely on your smartphone for everything you do. Unfortunately, over time, your brain follows suit. If you want to improve your brainpower and memory, put the phone down; researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that even when phones are turned off, they still reduce the cognitive function of their owners. Try to stop using your phone when it’s not entirely necessary—like putting your GPS away when you know a route by heart—and you’ll see gradual increases in your memory over time. Don’t know how to break up with your phone? The 11 Easy Ways to Conquer Your Smartphone Addiction will pave the way.
Eat More Red Fruit
An apple a day does keep the doctor away—if it’s a Red Delicious, that is. Resveratrol, a pigment found in red fruit, like apples, strawberries, raspberries, and grapes, has been linked to a reduction in Alzheimer’s risk by researchers at Georgetown University, potentially leading to improvements in memory among those without dementia, as well.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting a good night’s rest is one of the best things you can do when it comes to improving your memory. Not only can most people attest to the brain fog that follows a night when you’ve barely slept at all, research suggests that inadequate sleep can have a negative effect on human memory in the long-term, as well. In fact, a study conducted at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reveals that memory consolidation—what happens in the brain between when something occurs and when it becomes a lasting memory—and related motor skills are notably improved by getting an adequate amount of sleep. Make a good night’s rest a priority by adding the 10 Tips for Your Best Sleep Ever to your routine!
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