Advertisement

Retrace your steps

Retrace your steps
Getty Images

This might not be the type of exercise that first comes to mind, but a recent study showed that actually walking backward helped participants better remember past events than walking forward or sitting still. And it wasn’t just the movement itself: participants who watched a video of objects moving backward, or even imagined moving backward, remembered better. The researchers dubbed this the “mnemonic time-travel effect,” and although they’re not sure yet how it works, it could have real-world applications for the next time you’re trying to remember something.

Eat a Mediterranean diet

Eat a Mediterranean diet
Getty Images

A review of research confirmed that eating the Mediterranean way – with lots of fresh veggies, fruit, fish, and whole grains – is linked with better memory, both working and long-term. “The Mediterranean diet promotes a healthy heart and improved circulatory system – when circulation is enhanced, oxygen and nutrients are more easily able to reach the brain, which can help to enhance learning and memory,” Palinski-Wade says. “This style of eating has been found to be associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment.”

You could also try the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), a combo of Mediterranean and DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). MIND focuses specifically on foods shown to boost brain and memory health, including green leafy vegetables, berries, and nuts; while avoiding foods shown to lower cognitive function, such as red meat, butter, and sweets.

Read on for the age-defying foods everyone over 50 should probably be eating.

Cut down on alcohol

Cut down on alcohol
Getty Images

Studies have shown that drinking too much alcohol is linked with greater loss of memory. “Moderate alcohol consumption can have a short-term negative impact on memory – and chronic, heavy drinking can have a lasting effect on the brain as it can cause a loss of grey matter, and have a long-term impact on memory and cognitive function,” Palinski-Wade says. “Excessive alcohol use, even occasionally, can lead to ‘hangovers’ which include dehydration. Since even mild dehydration can have a negative impact on mental functioning, limiting alcohol consumption may help to prevent this.” To keep your brain sharp, don’t drink more than one glass a day for women and two for men.

Drink caffeine

Drink caffeine
Getty Images

On the other hand, consuming a cup of coffee might actually strengthen your memories. “Small amounts of caffeine can make you more alert, which can improve memory and concentration – one study even found that caffeine improved long-term memory,” Palinski-Wade says. Just be sure not to drink it later in the day. “However, excessive intake of caffeine can have a negative impact as it can reduce quality sleep, which over time can cause a decline in memory and concentration,” she says.

Enjoy a cup of coffee? This is the scientific secret behind the perfect cup of coffee.

Review info afterwards

Review info afterwards
Getty Images

When you learn something new, a great way to remember it is to go over the information later, honing in on the most important points. “Summarising activates the brain’s frontal networks to do the ‘heavy lifting’ of synthesising, or aggregating, different pieces of knowledge to create something new,” Chapman says. This can ‘pump up’ your brain, she says. For example, in one study, participants who replayed a scene in their mind after watching a video remembered it better than those who simply went on to a new video.

Make connections

Make connections
Getty Images

While you’re going over the new information in your mind, you can also strengthen your chances of remembering if you form associations with things you already know. For example, if you meet someone who reminds you of a famous actor, use that as a memory hook to recall their name. “When we can attach some personal meaning, that is also shown to enhance our ability to remember,” Zientz says. You can also use mental pictures – for example, if someone’s last name is Baker, picture them wearing a chef’s hat, or if their name is Tiffany, picture diamonds. Even sounds and odours can form links that strengthen memories. “There is evidence that music and smell are both often associated with triggering deep-seated memories from the past,” Zientz says.

Sign up here to get Reader’s Digest’s favourite stories straight to your inbox – for free!

Source: RD Canada

Advertisement

Never miss a deal again - sign up now!

Connect with us: