Feeling forgetful lately? You may be concerned about how to improve memory, especially as you get older. After all, doesn't it feel like our memory is sometimes the first thing to go? Walking into a room to grab something, only to forget what it is you needed, or mixing up your grandchildren's names--we've all been there, and it tends to worsen as the years go by.
But breakthrough research suggests that you can stop — and even reverse — brain aging, slashing your risk of memory-robbing dementia by 50 percent or even more even as you get older. Learn how to improve your memory today by practicing these smart brain boosters.
How to Improve Memory
Avoid inflammation with booster shots. Haven’t had a vaccination in years? Surprise: The CDC recommends that adult get the vaccine against tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years — for good reason: Studies prove that keeping up to date on this shot cuts your risk of ever developing dementia 41 percent. The reason: If your body doesn’t have to fight off the bacteria behind these diseases, it won’t produce the surges of inflammation that can prematurely age brain cells. Talk to your doctor.
Stay sharp with long-term goals. A recent Rush University study reveals that women who slowly tackle a long-term goal — such as mastering a craft or researching their family tree — are just half as likely to develop dementia. Turns out, looking ahead — and making small strides toward a bigger goal over a few months or even years — keeps your frontal lobe (the “control panel” of your brain) active and healthy. You'll also be happier!
Use a different computer font. Swapping your “usual” computer font to a new one makes your brain’s processing center work harder, improving your ability to recall information, University of Northern Iowa researchers report.
How to Improve Memory Naturally
Eat carbs at every meal. Folks who fill up on “complex” carbs (think whole-wheat bread, oatmeal and beans) do better on memory-related tasks than those who skimp on them, reveals a Tufts University study. “Your body converts carbohydrates to glucose, which directly feeds your brain,” says dietitian Michelle Dudash, RDN, author of Clean Eating for Busy Families.
Pop black cumin. Take two 500-mg. capsules of black cumin (also known as black seed) nightly, and you’ll do far better on memory tests, a new University of Asia Pacific study suggests. “Black cumin stabilizes blood sugar and reduces stress,” explains Chris Kilham of MedicineHunter.com. “Both mechanisms may enhance cognitive functions, including memory.”
Drink Rooibos tea. This naturally sweet herbal brew is shown to protect against a cell-damaging process linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Reduce your risk 50 percent with a D and a B. Over a dozen studies suggest that a daily 3,000-IU dose of vitamin D3 and 1,000-mcg. dose of vitamin B12 could cut your risk of dementia in half or more. These nutrients work together to quickly repair or replace damaged brain cells, which is key to slowing brain aging and keeping your memory sharp. Theses nutrients work so well, you could also see an improvement in your mood, memory, focus and concentration in as little as eight weeks, Cornell University researchers say. Important: Always check with your doctor before starting a new supplement.
Keep arteries clear with tomatoes. Carotenoids, the pigments that make tomatoes red and sweet potatoes orange, help block the formation of damaging plaque inside brain arteries, reveals research in the Journals of Gerontology. In fact, you only need to eat two cups of carotenoid-rich produce daily to cut your risk of dementia 20 percent — plus help your brain function as if it’s three years younger, says study co-author Catherine Feart, Ph.D. Other good choices: cooked carrots, tangerines, and cantaloupe — or apples, which contain an antioxidant known as quercetin that has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Energize neurons with parsley. Your brain is packed with mitochondria — cellular furnaces that convert blood sugar into the energy needed to help you think clearly and keep your brain functioning at its peak, says Al Sears, M.D., author of Healing Herbs of Paradise. And there’s a nutrient in parsley—called PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone)—that can keep your brain’s mitochondria chugging along at top speed! According to researchers, PQQ also spurs the replacement of any brain mitochondria that are slowing down, preventing brain aging. Other sources of PQQ include green peppers, kiwi and papaya. Eat three cups weekly for best results.
How to Improve Memory During Menopause
Boost blood flow with daily walks. Walking briskly for 20 minutes daily could cut your risk of dementia 35 percent—and if your memory has been a bit hit-and-miss lately, it could also rev your brain function 10 percent, improving your focus and concentration in as little as one month, say University of Pittsburgh scientists. One of their studies shows that simply moving your legs increases the flow of healing, nutrient-rich blood to your brain’s main memory center.
Head out and go shopping. We know: Twist your arm, right? A Johns Hopkins University study found that shopping often helps women stay sharp. Shopping requires physical and mental activity, both of which benefit the brain.