25 ways to boost your memory and age-proof your brain, according to experts

25 ways to boost your memory and age-proof your brain, according to experts

Keep your mind sharp with these deceptively simple tips

There are many ways we can maintain our brain health as we age Read novels

“ Reading novels provides an especially helpful exercise in working memory. Why is fiction preferred over non-fiction ? Because non-fiction works are often organised in ways that allow the reader to skip around a bit according to personal interests and previous familiarity with the subject. Fiction, on the other hand, requires the reader to proceed from beginning to end while retaining in working memory the various characters and plot developments.” Dr Richard Restak, professor in neurology and author of The Complete Guide to Memory Listen to music

“ Music clearly has a very profound impact on memory. We see this in late-stage dementia where music can continue to recall memories long after other memory recall has failed. Historically, our ancestors regularly used music to help remember chunks of information and pass on facts and knowledge. Music can help us remember a far greater number of items – the alphabet song being a great example of this. Using music to block out distractions can also help boost memory formation and recall because it helps us focus attention.” Dr Julia Jones, neuroscientist for PPL PRS Create a memory palace

“Also known as the method of loci, the Memory Palace technique is a mnemonic device dating back to Ancient Greek times. It involves associating information you want to remember with specific locations in a well-known place, like your home or a favourite park. Each piece of data is linked to a distinct landmark or object. When you want to recall the information, mentally walk through your ‘palace’, visiting each location in order. The more unusual or vivid the association, the easier it is to recall.” Barbara Santini , psychologist Brain training and listening to music are great ways to stay sharp (Photo: Alistair Berg/Getty/Digital Vision) Do mental exercises

“ Brain-training is an excellent way of helping to age-proof your brain. Exercises such as brushing your teeth with the opposite hand, reciting the alphabet backwards, memorising a shopping list and adding numbers in your head are easy ways of incorporating brain training into your daily routine. It’s important to continue pushing yourself with variety and intensifying the challenges in order to keep the brain fit and agile.” Dr Emer MacSweeney , CEO and consultant neuroradiologist of Re:Cognition Health, a brain and mind clinic specialising in Alzheimer’s …As well as physical ones

“The hippocampus, the brain’s memory centre, is one area where new neurons can be generated and this genesis of new brain cells can be helped by exercise . Even better if you inject a little novelty, so go for a run but also challenge yourself with a new route.” Dr Richard Wingate, professor of developmental neurobiology at King’s College London, and author of The Story of the Brain in 10 ½ Cells Cut down on sugar

“After eating a sugary snack , blood sugar levels will rise and so too will insulin levels needed to help the body’s cells to update the sugar. High insulin levels are said to affect memory even in healthy individuals. Over time, these spikes in sugar and insulin could have a devastating effect on daily memory function. To keep blood sugar levels balanced, try to consume a good quality protein and/or fat source with each meal or snack helping to satisfy hunger and sustain fullness for longer and reduce subsequent sweet cravings later in the afternoon. Swap processed foods high in sugar or refined white carbohydrates for real wholefoods and stick to a regular routine so that your body can regulate hunger hormones and mood fluctuations.” Claire Barnes, registered nutritional therapist and technical adviser at Bio-Kult Keep hydrated

“The brain is exceptionally sensitive to dehydration: even small water deficits will impair your mental sharpness. In one recent study, male students were dehydrated for 36 hours and then underwent mental performance tests for 30 minutes, including mood, attention, memory and reaction speed. At the end of this period, they were allowed to rehydrate and then were re-tested.

“ While dehydrated, mood scores were lower, fatigue scores higher and attention, memory and reaction speed were all significantly impaired. After one hour of rehydration, performance in all measures was restored. Do not rely on thirst to prompt you to drink. By the time you are compellingly thirsty, the body is three pints short of water. To keep the brain properly hydrated, women should drink two to three litres (3.5 to five pints) and men consume 2.5 to 3.7 litres (four to 6.5 pints) of fluids per day, as a general rule.” Professor James Goodwin , former chief scientist at Age UK and author of Supercharge Your Brain Switch up your environment

“Different environments can provide different sensory stimulation, which can, in turn, influence our cognitive processes. By alternating locations, you’re forcing your brain to form new associations with the material, reinforcing memory. This technique takes advantage of the context-dependent memory, which suggests that it’s easier to retrieve certain memories in the same context in which they were encoded.” Barbara Santini Take breaks

“The brain tends to remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed ones. It’s best therefore to take a short break before you finish reviewing material to be memorised. By temporarily turning to some relaxing diversion, you will wind up with a stronger memory for the material than you would have if you plodded on without a break.” Dr Richard Restak Related Article

Food & Drink 13 summer superfoods to eat for energy, immunity and longevity – according to nutritionists

Eat berries

“More than a decade’s worth of research has explored the impact of dietary changes on memory and overall cognitive function. One of the most promising areas examines flavonoids, something found naturally in many fruits, vegetables and plants. In 2021, scientists in Indonesia found that eating strawberries had an immediate and significant improvement on people’s ability to remember a list of words. This […]

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