MEMORY- defined medically as the faculty of the brain by which data or information is encoded, stored, and retrieved when needed. For most of us, though, memory encompasses so much more. It is a wealth of information and experiences collected over a period of a lifetime, a connection to our past. From math tables to bad days, our memory is what keeps it all alive and available to us, when required.
A mild memory loss is a natural process of ageing- forgetting where we kept the keys, the inability to recall someone’s name. It may disturb us a little, but it does not interfere with our ability to function in our daily life.
None the less, memory loss is a phenomenon which everyone fears. Though causative factors like age, trauma, and disease aren’t in our hands to control, there are certain diet and lifestyle changes we can start following, which help to a large extent in slowing down the process of memory loss.
Let’s have a look at some of these changes
1. Make things easier for yourself.
Make a note of small things you need to remember- your chores, shopping lists etc. Use pill organizers, so you can keep your medication in check, and have it on time. Maintain a telephone and address book, to refer when you want to contact someone. Try to avoid distractions, concentrate on the task at hand.
2. Exercise should be a part of your life.
Exercising regularly, be it cardio or cross training, is said to reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s. Just walking for 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week increases the size of your hippocampus, the part of your brain controlling memory and learning. It could also slow down the deterioration process in people showing signs of cognitive loss.
So, take a swim, get on your bike or just enjoy those long, windy walks…
3. Meditation helps.
Meditation has many benefits, including mind relaxation, stress reduction and improved sleep. Try to meditate for a few minutes daily, it can make your memory sharper as well as improving brain function.
4. Keep yourself busy.
Keeping yourself busy with work or any kind of activity is known to keep you sharper and improve brain functioning. Studies have found that people with busy lifestyles have performed better in cognitive function tests.
Do not give up working, pursue a hobby, and volunteer to social causes…anything that helps you exercise your mind.
5. Be socially active.
It has been observed that people with social ties are more likely to have sharper minds than people who distance themselves. Being alone is likely to give rise to depression and stress, which contributes to memory loss.
Spend quality time with your family and friends, engage in social activities. Face to face interactions with close ones are powerful mood elevators, and help keep the mind active. Organize get togethers or be a part of one.
6. Give your brain a workout.
Exercising your brain is a good way of keeping it active. Try learning a new language, or playing a new instrument. Challenge your brain with activities. Crossword puzzles are a great brain booster. Take a new route while driving, plan new activities involving strategy, like planting a garden. Hone in on your skills- if you have learnt a new language, work at speaking it more fluently.
Group oriented games like bridge not only challenge the mind, they are a great way of getting in touch with your friends!
7. Get a good night’s sleep.
An adult typically requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep; anything less will cause you to be dull, and will affect your memory. Make sure you catch those 40 winks. Sleep is necessary to consolidate old memories and make new ones, it also stimulates neuron activity in the hippocampus, enabling you to retrieve old memories down the road, as well as make and store new ones. Do not ignore this one!
8. Think Nutrition.
It is important to eat healthy and nutritious food. Include a lot of fresh fruit in your diet. Berries have a high percentage of flavonoids, and are known to improve memory, especially in women. Fruits, nuts and green tea are also rich in antioxidants, which prevent the brain from rusting away.
Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids will do wonders for your memory- treat yourself to lean meat, fish ( salmon, sardines)and walnuts. If you’re a vegetarian or don’t like fish, indulge in chia and flaxseeds.
9. Watch the blood Pressure.
Hypertension is known to reduce the cognitive activities of your mind. It could also reduce blood flow to the brain, increasing the risk of dementia. You need to keep it in control.
10. Reduce the stress levels.
High stress levels trigger the release of cortisol- and can cause damage to the brain in the long run. In the short term too, anxiety and stress can cause you to have memory lapses, such as forgetting where you put the keys or what you were about to do. Take a calming breath and relax. Learn stress management techniques which help you combat it.
11. Smoking is a NO NO.
Smoking can cause vascular disorders, restricting the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and causing memory dysfunction. Reduce the smoking and eventually, try to quit altogether. Studies have shown that memory functions in people who quit smoking is almost as good as those who are nonsmokers. It is also observed that nonsmokers consistently perform better in memory tests, than smokers…
Next time you crave a smoke, try having a chewing gum…
12. Did you know that sun bathing helps?
A good memory has been associated with higher levels of Vitamin D3. Having food rich in D3, like eggs and oily fish, is quite beneficial. And there’s nothing like soaking up the early morning sun!!!!
If you are worried that your memory loss is affecting your daily routine or is getting worse, do not hesitate to consult your doctor.