When training your body, it can be just as important what you do outside of your workout as it does during it. The same goes for your memory. But why bother trying to remember anything anymore when all of the world’s information is at our fingertips through our phones and computers? Simply put, because memory is essential to our identity and we honestly cannot function without it. According to the American Psychological Association,“Although new neurons develop throughout our lives, our brains reach their maximum size during our early twenties and then begin very slowly to decline in volume. Blood flow to the brain also decreases over time. The good news is that many studies have shown that the brain remains capable of regrowth and of learning and retaining new facts and skills throughout life, especially for people who get regular exercise and frequent intellectual stimulation.”
With memory playing such an important part of our daily functions, what are some other things we can do to further our recall? Here are 5 unexpected brain boosters to add to your everyday habits.
- Eating for the Mind The “MIND diet” puts an emphasis on eating vegetables, berries, nuts, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. It also suggests limits on red meats, butter, cheese, sweets, and fried foods. Not that any of these are a big surprise to us but munching this way may lower your risk for cognitive impairment by up to 35%. The good stuff that comes along with these foods include lean proteins, omega-3s, antioxidants, and fiber can reduce inflammation which help in cutting your risk for dementia. For example, berries stimulate blood flow to the brain so be sure to get in your recommended servings.
- Stop to Smell the … Rosemary A recent British study discovered that the scent of this aromatic herb can help improve long-term memory. This is possibly due to it enhancing the activity of chemical messengers in the brain linked to recollection. Simply put 4 drops of rosemary essential oil in your diffuser and activate it for 5 minutes every hour throughout the day. Try Rosemary Certified Organic Essential Oil ($7.28) and Sparoom MarbleMist Glass Tortoise Ultrasonic Diffuser ($25) from bulkapothecary.com.
- Wait On That Workout It’s been shown that waiting several hours to do vigorous cardio (like running or biking) after learning something new heightens recall and activates the areas of the brain needed for memory retrieval. The specific time frame in this study was key : 4 hours. It was shown that working out right after learning something new was not helpful with the improvement of memory. So if you have a major presentation or big test coming up, study in the morning and carve out some time (approximately a half hour) to sweat in the afternoon.
- Read the Old-School Way These days e-readers seem to be the norm but studies show that users of these devices have a harder time recalling the order in which events occured in a story when compared to readers of hard-copy versions. The thought of researchers is that the physical action of flipping through the pages with your fingers, as well as the sensation of the growing pile of pages read, may support the ability to piece together the details of the plot. While many of us may not be ready to give up our e-readers (myself included), it may not be a bad idea to mix in a paperback now and then.
- Simply Sleep Get some sleep shortly after learning new facts. Jessica Payne, Ph.D., director of University of Notre Dame’s Sleep, Stress, and Memory Lab, says that sleep triggers changes in the brain that make memories more solid. As with working out, timing matters; you want whatever new information you’ve learned to be in your mind fairly soon before sleep. For instance, if you work on a project in the afternoon, review your notes just before heading to bed.
Information courtesy of womenshealthmag.com.
With these 5 easy brain boosters, you can help improve your memory and give yourself an extra edge.
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