Here’s how to protect and nourish your brain – and boost your memory.
Eat Mediterranean: Enjoy a diet low in fat, sugar and processed food but high in protein, fibre and anti-oxidants.
Berry nice: Dark coloured fruits such as strawberries and blueberries contain high levels of antioxidant molecules which fight free radicals which can harm brain cells.
Eat fish: The fatty acids in fish will help maintain brain cells and build better connections.
Snack on pumpkin seeds: Get your recommended daily amount of zinc, essential for enhancing your memory and thinking, from a small handful of seeds.
Feast on folic acid: Found in wholegrain food, broccoli and peas, folic acid can help the brain to recall information.
B vitamins, especially B6, B12, and folic acid, protect neurons by breaking down homocysteine, an amino acid toxic to nerve cells. They’re also involved in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen. Best sources: spinach and other dark leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, strawberries, melons, black beans and other legumes, citrus fruits, soybeans.
Antioxidants like vitamins C and E, and beta carotene, fight free radicals, which are highly reactive and can damage cells. Antioxidants can interact and neutralize them. Antioxidants also improve the flow of oxygen through the body and brain. Best sources: blueberries and other berries, sweet potatoes, red tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, green tea, nuts and seeds, citrus fruits, liver.
Omega-3 fatty acids are concentrated in the brain and are associated with cognitive function. They count as “healthy” fats, as opposed to saturated fats and trans fats. Best sources are cold-water fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, halibut, and mackerel; walnuts and walnut oil; flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
Do a brain training game: The more you use it, the faster it will work.
Avoid information overload: Too much mental demand, such as information overload, triggers stress which over long periods may cause the release of brain chemicals which can temporarily impair your memory.
Pay attention. You can’t remember something if you never learned it, and you can’t learn something if you don’t pay enough attention to it. It takes about eight seconds of intent focus to process a piece of information through your hippocampus and into the appropriate memory centre. So, NO multitasking when you need to concentrate!
Tailor information acquisition to your learning style. Most people are visual learners; they learn best by reading or otherwise seeing what it is they have to know. But some are auditory learners who learn better by listening. They might benefit from recording the information they need and listening to it until they remember it.
Involve as many senses as possible. Even if you’re a visual learner, read out loud what you want to remember. If you can recite it rhythmically, even better. Try to relate information to colours, textures, smells and tastes. The physical act of rewriting information can help imprint it onto your brain.
Relate information to what you already know. Connect new data to information you already remember, whether it’s new material that builds on previous knowledge, or something as simple as an address of someone who lives on a street where you already know someone.
Organize information. Write things down in address books and datebooks and on calendars; take notes on more complex material and reorganize the notes into categories later. Use both words and pictures in learning information.
Be motivated and keep a positive attitude. Telling yourself you have a bad memory actually hampers the ability of your brain to remember, while positive mental feedback sets up an expectation of success.