How to boost your memory (without playing sudoku)
Feeling forgetful? From berries to salsa, there is plenty you can to do sharpen up your mind and memory.
Ever worried you are having a ‘seniors moment’, even if you are years away from joining the blue-rinse set?
You’re not alone. Bouts of forgetfulness can be a natural part of getting older, or simply having too much on your mind.
But no matter what your age, it’s important to train your brain – not just your body – to stay sharp and switched on.
University of Melbourne dementia research development fellow Dr Amit Lampit says adopting a “cognitively healthy lifestyle” can help slow down brain deterioration.
“This mainly involves keeping the brain challenged, exercising, eating healthy, avoiding stress and treating health conditions such as depression, diabetes and high blood pressure, which could affect brain health,” he says.
From bingeing on berries to strapping on salsa shoes, researchers have uncovered some unexpected ways to boost our memory and stave off diseases like dementia.
Food for thought
Here’s something to chew on – the Mediterranean-style diet is not just good for our heart and health. Researchers are increasingly serving up good news on its benefits for the brain.
Eating foods like fruit (especially berries), vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil may help to slow down the rate of cognitive decline, improve memory, thinking skills and even protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
- Read more: 8 simple changes that can help you adopt a Mediterranean Diet
- Read more: 10 foods to boost your brainpower
Exercise your mind…
Always dreamed of unleashing your inner guitar hero and jamming like Jimi Hendrix?
Stop procrastinating. Learning a new skill – whether it’s picking up a guitar, mastering French or taking up salsa dancing – is not only fun, it’s a great way to exercise the brain.
Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research says challenging your mind in unfamiliar ways, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, helps wire new neural pathways and ward off age-related decline and dementia.
… and your body
Working out keeps our bodies and our brains fighting fit. A University of British Columbia study found sweat-inducing, heart-pumping exercise can improve memory and cognition, as blood flow is crucial for healthy brain function.
Exercising at least three times a week is recommended to help reduce the risk of dementia.
Hitting the hay for a solid night’s sleep is one of the easiest ways to feel more alert, and with better memory recall.
In science speak, when we fall into a deep sleep, our memory centre (the hippocampus) replays recent events and tells our brain’s neocortex (which stores general knowledge and event-based memories) what it needs to file away.
“This replay only occurs during sleep, so if you’re skimping on sleep, you aren’t letting your brain consolidate memories,” according to the Queensland Brain Institute.
Pardon the pun – but catching more Z’s is a no-brainer.
- Read more: How to get a better night’s sleep
- Read more: The importance of sleep for your child’s development
The next time you turn to Google instead of your memory banks to remember a fun fact, consider this.
Experts have found society’s increasing smartphone obsession is eroding our memories, as devices become an extension of our brains.
To avoid becoming a victim of “digital amnesia”, try scheduling in regular digital detoxes, and saying sayonara to Siri where possible.
Written by Elissa Doherty