I had a wonderful idea for a blog post when I was out on a walk last week, but by the time I returned home I had absolutely no memory of what it was about! How could I have forgotten it in the space of an hour? It did worry me and I have noticed that I have become more forgetful recently. I am not just talking about losing my phone and my keys – that happens several times a day; I am talking about forgetting the names of people I know quite well and that can be beyond embarrassing. So, I decided that maybe I should do some research on ways to improve my memory.
I was relieved to read that it is a normal side-effect of stress, growing older and multi-tasking. Well, yes I am growing older, I am a ‘stresser’ and I am the queen of the multi-tasking.
But you can help keep your brain healthy. Here are some of the results of my research – it is by no means an exhaustive list and in some cases, you can find the opposite argument also.
My diet is good, but are there some foods which MAY help with memory? We have been told for years that a Mediterranean-type diet is best for our overall health, which means a diet high in vegetables, fish and poultry, fruit and olive oil with moderate dairy, very little red meat and moderate wine.
According to www.alzheimers.net, these are the foods that help keep your memory healthy:
- Leafy green vegetables: spinach, broccoli, kale
- Salmon and other cold-water fish which contain Omega 3 fatty acids
- Avocados – source of Vitamin E
- Sunflower seeds
- Nuts – particularly walnuts
- Whole grains
- Red Wine in MODERATION
- Berries and dark-skinned fruits
- Coffee and dark chocolate in MODERATION
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil (there is conflicting evidence on the benefits)
- Tumeric, which contains curcumin and helps prevent oxidation and inflammation
But equally there are food that may induce memory loss if you eat too much of them:
- White foods: bread, flour, pasta
- Sugar. We should know by now how bad too much sugar is for us. But did you know that it is just as bad for our brains as other organs and possibly even worse. There is plenty of research which backs this up. Read one HERE
- Artificial sweeteners
- Processed foods and meats: cheeses and particularly smoked meats
- Foods containing diacetyl or nitrates in margarine, some beers and microwave popcorn
These may boost brain health and slow down memory loss (I take Omega 3 and a B complex):
- Ginkgo biloba
- Certain B vitamins
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Asian Ginseng
- Vitamin D
Indeed, it is Vitamin D’s impact on the nervous system which has led to renewed interest in its study, with a view to assessing how it may impact on everything from memory loss to the onset of dementia.
It has been suggested that Vitamin D may have a neuro-protective role in the body; its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties may help to maintain healthy brain function. It follows, therefore, that a Vitamin D deficiency has the potential to impact normal brain activity.
Sudoko, crosswords, board games, card games and memory games are all excellent; anything that gets the brain to work a little bit harder. In the last few years, I took up bridge, which is considered to be one of the best activities. If only I could persuade GG!
Research suggests that staying active is important because of increased circulation. My back will not allow me play tennis any more, but I do walk and play golf. I am also ‘thinking’ of getting an exercise bike or joining a gym.
I have written about the importance of sleep before HERE and it is no surprise that consistent lack of sleep over many years (particularly in mid-life) is thought to contribute to memory problems such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. There is a huge amount of research in recent years to support this and you can read the findings from a study at Berkeley, California, which supports this theory HERE.
LEARN A NEW SKILL
Learning how to quilt or knit, something that requires all of your attention, can help with memory function but there is a lot of research to suggest that one of the best activities is dancing. A 21-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine makes for very interesting reading on the benefits of this particular activity. You can read about it here.
As I said earlier, I am the queen of multi-taskers; I can cook dinner, hold a conversation, use my phone and tidy the kitchen all at the same time, but seemingly it does not make me ‘Superwoman’, just ‘Stupidwoman’ because it means that I do not concentrate on anything. I presume most women can identify with this and I was horrified to discover the effect it can have on memory. You can read one such report HERE.
I know that this is popular in recent years to help in weight loss, but I did not know that research now shows that it improves brain function, learning and memory, helps the brain create new neurons and protects against brain damage. You can read more about it HERE
I aim to be more mindful, less stressed and I am going to try and stop with the multi-tasking. My diet is good, but I need to remember moderation is the word when it comes to red wine. Well, moderation is the key word to everything. Please share if you have any tips for avoiding memory loss….if you remember!
Thanks for reading.