Five ways to improve your memory naturally

We’ve all become very aware that we’re living longer lives, with many health professionals attributing this to brain health.

According to the World Health Organization, dementia is the greatest cause of years lost due to disability in adults aged over 60 in high-income countries. Dementia is a syndrome caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, behaviour, thinking and ability to perform everyday activities.

It’s natural to notice small changes in our ability to remember things as we age. The changes relate to the structure and function of the brain, which can slow down some cognitive processes. The good news is there are certain things we can do to support our memory and protect and sharpen our minds.

“It is possible to improve memory, keep our brain sharp and strengthen mental functioning through exercises, diet and lifestyle,” says Brendan Howell, director of Arborvitae Health and Wellbeing.  

Read: Keeping your blood pressure in this range can slow brain ageing

“Keeping our brain functioning at optimum level requires a bit of effort but it can be done naturally and as part of our everyday lives,” Mr Howell says.

He shares his top five tips to improve memory and brain function naturally.

Stay physically active
“While this sounds straightforward, there is science behind this strategy,” Mr Howell says.

“Being active improves cardiovascular health and moves blood around the body improving blood flow to the brain.  It also lowers levels of stress hormones and reduces inflammation. 

“Research has shown that people who move more experience better memory and thinking capacity and increased regular movement is associated with a lower risk of dementia.”

Use all your senses
Mr Howell: “Our senses are powerful tools in helping us navigate our lives day to day.

“What we may not realise is that they all play a part in helping us to remember things and improve our cognitive function.

Read: How air pollution affects brain function

“When undertaking activities, try to take in not only the visuals, but the smells and sounds as well. If taste is relevant, explore this too. All these things help to retain and trigger memories.”

Work the brain
“Engaging in mentally stimulating activities helps to bolster our brain’s cognitive reserve and capacity,” Mr Howell says.

“Keeping our brains active through learning, reading, games and other stimulating activities supports resilience and physical connections. Research shows that learning new skills and habits helps to create more connections between our brain cells and other areas of the brain. 

“Undertaking regular brain exercises boosts memory, concentration and focus, keeping our brain sharp as we get older.

“Let’s not forget that staying socially connected and engaged is important for our brain health too.”

Improve your diet
“The foods we eat play an important role in keeping our brain healthy and can assist to improve certain mental tasks including memory and concentration,” Mr Howell adds.

“Ensure your diet is full of fatty fish such as salmon, trout and sardines as they are all rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Read: Best and worst foods for brain health

“About 60 per cent of our brain is made up of fat and half of that is comprised of omega-3 fatty acids. Our brain uses omega-3s, which are critical for learning and memory, to build brain and nerve cells.

“Foods rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties are also important for our brain health and help to ward off diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Consider supplements
“The reality is that we lead very busy lives and often do not get all the nutrients and goodness we need through food,” Mr Howell explains.

“There are a few reasons for this. The first is that packaged, prepared foods and fried foods often contain heavily processed ingredients that include unhealthy amounts of added sugar, sodium and fat. They also lack the necessary range and volume of nutrients our body needs.

“The second reason is that our lifestyle can harm our health. Too much alcohol, lack of sleep, too much stress – all these things affect the health of our cells.” 

Are you conscious of the various ways you can keep your brain in tiptop shape? Why not share your tips in the comments section below?

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YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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