As we get older, most of us start to wish that our memory would serve us better. We begin to notice that we cannot recall a person’s name or remember what we went into the next room to do. Here are three simple tips that can have a profound effect on your memory and brain function.
Stress and overwhelm create a fast-paced life, which predisposes us to memory lapses. However, you can make a difference by just following these guidelines:
Sleep: get a full night’s rest
Drink water: stay hydrated
Chew your food
Sleep aids learning in two distinct ways. First, adequate sleep improves focus, concentration and efficiency when creating a new memory. Memory requires three separate brain functions: acquisition of new knowledge, consolidation and recall. Studies have shown that sleep and memory are connected is in the consolidation step. When a memory consolidates, it becomes a “stable” neural network and, unlike acquisition and recall, this activity takes place while you sleep. The consolidation part of the process may be more crucial to the accuracy and reliability of memory retention than wakeful focus and attention. As this seems to be true for both factual and procedural learning, this information may help to explain why infants and children require more sleep than adults.
Just like inadequate sleep, even mild dehydration can impair your focus and concentration. Our bodies are at least 60 percent water, making water the best choice for hydration. Water is also a primary donor of oxygen to our systems. More oxygen in the body means more oxygen to the brain, boosting our mental clarity, alertness and attention. Water also provides an excellent conductor for electrical impulses including transmission of nervous signals.
It may seem strange, but emerging evidence suggests that chewing your food properly significantly improves your memory. Scientists in the UK discovered that subjects performed better on tests of both short and long-term memory if they chewed gum during the trial. A March 2000 Japanese study showed increased activity of the hippocampus, a crucial brain structure involved in memory, while people chew. To be clear, the gum is not necessary, just the chewing. Actually, crunchy foods may stimulate the hippocampus more substantially than softer foods.
Dr. Rebecca Asmar, ND, maintains an open, general family practice focused on optimizing health and overcoming chronic illness. She specializes in the treatment of children, autism, diabetes, hormonal problems, autoimmune disease and cancer.