Before I sat down to write this article, I searched high and low for my glasses, looking in every imaginable drawer, upturning couch cushions, even taking a furtive peek in the refrigerator. Well, it turns out my readers were perched smack-dab on top of my head, as my kids were all too happy to point out. And I have zero recollection of how they got there.
Granted, I am in the middle of moving, and as anyone who has been through such an aggravating experience can attest, stress can cause a fair amount of distraction, perhaps even a lapse in memory.1 But is there anything you can do, beyond managing your stress, to help improve your memory? Turns out there is.
Read on for eight ways to keep your memory sharp—and your glasses, your keys and the remote control where they should be.
1. Follow your circadian rhythm.
Not only does eating according to your circadian rhythm—the body’s natural 24-hour cycle that follows light and darkness—assist with weight loss2, it also can improve many aspects of your health, affecting hormone release, digestion, depression and more.3
In addition, research4 suggests that the circadian system has a “pronounced influence” on memory and learning. Researchers also have found a link between disturbances in circadian rhythm and Alzheimer’s disease, although they note that they are unsure whether disrupted rhythms increase the risk of the disease, or if the disease itself causes disrupted rhythms.5
So do as your ancestors did: Rise (and eat) with the sun, sleep when it’s dark and avoid late-night snacking … not only will your waistline and your overall health thank you, but so may your memory.
2. Go for a walk.
In a study6 of older women with probable mild cognitive impairment, aerobic exercise improved spatial memory and significantly increased the volume of the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in memory and learning. A few simple ways to sneak more cardio into your day: take a walk on your lunch break, choose the stairs instead of the elevator or park at the back of the lot when running errands.
3. Eat your spinach.
Research7 suggests that folic acid, (the synthetic version of folate, which is a naturally-occurring B vitamin found in dark leafy green vegetables), may improve cognitive function such as memory and thinking skills. You can find folic acid in supplement form, or if you want to go the natural way, some of the best food sources of folate include spinach, asparagus and Brussels sprouts.8 Compliment your next lunch with a side salad made with spinach or add grilled asparagus to your next meal for an extra crunch!
Evidence9 suggests that flavonoids, a group of compounds found in many plant-based foods, may help improve memory impairment. An extensive study10 of approximately 124,000 people, conducted over 24 years, also suggests that they could help with weight maintenance. Berries, grapes, broccoli, citrus and legumes are good sources; so are teas, particularly white and green.11
5. Get enough vitamin D.
Researchers suggest that increased levels of the “sunshine vitamin” may help improve memory, although they say more research is needed.12 Some good food sources include seafood such as tuna, vitamin D-fortified milk, yogurt, and eggs.13
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Giggle.
That’s right: Find something to laugh at. Not only does it make you (and others) feel good, but having a good belly laugh can help reduce the stress hormone cortisol.14 That, in turn, can improve your short-term memory, researchers have found.15
In a study16 of college students, researchers found that just two weeks of mindfulness training, such as meditation, significantly enhanced working memory. Reading ability and the ability to focus on tasks also improved after meditation.
8. Don’t Skimp on Rest.
Research abounds on the importance of sleep to your memory—more than a century’s worth, in fact. According to the American Physiological Society17, sleep is a brain state that optimizes the consolidation of memories. What’s more, sleep—specifically napping—can be especially good for the adolescent mind, improving so-called verbal declarative memory, a recent study found.18
As frustrating as memory lapses can be, keep in mind that they’re common among all ages and all types of people. And, by following the tips here, you’re making good progress toward keeping your mind sharp and your memory in top form.
Want more information on how eating according to your circadian rhythm can help you work towards your weight loss? Book your free appointment and start your journey today.
Carole Anderson Lucia
Carole is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California who specializes in health and wellness topics. Her work has appeared in Parents, Fit Pregnancy, Mom & Baby, Yahoo News, Viv magazine and Lifescript. She's won several national awards for her work including a National Science Award and two National Health Information awards. A frequent contributor to Jenny Craig’s Blog, Healthy Habits, she enjoys gardening, spending time at the beach and adopting far too many rescue animals in her spare time.
Favorite healthy snack: jicama dipped in homemade hummus.
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