Memory loss is a feature of aging that many of us fear. Some forgetfulness is normal with age, but that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. There are many things you can do to improve your brain health and strengthen your memory, but one stands above the rest. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Getting regular exercise is the most important thing you can do to keep your brain healthy, says Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the CNN medical correspondent and author of Keep Sharp. “Exercise, both aerobic and nonaerobic (strength training), is not only good for the body; it’s even better for the brain,” he writes. “The connection between physical fitness and brain fitness is clear, direct, and powerful.”
Gupta recommends working regular movement into your day-to-day life, whether that’s an exercise routine or simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you hit the gym regularly, Gupta suggests mixing up your workouts: The brain likes variety.
“Exercise promotes the release of a powerful molecule called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which repairs brain cells, strengthens their connections, promotes new brain cell growth, and enlarges the size of your hippocampus (a part of the brain involved in the storage and retrieval of memories),” explains Harvard Medical School. “Exercise also increases blood flow to your brain and may protect the brain’s system for flushing out toxins.”
Exercise is such a booster of brain health that starting an exercise program in middle age can delay the onset of dementia by a decade, research has found.
Read on to find out other easy ways to strengthen your memory.
Not only can meditation reduce stress—which is great for overall health, including brain health—research suggests it can strengthen your memory. One study found that participants who were new to meditation improved their memory in just eight weeks of regular practice.
There is such a thing as brain food. Several studies have found that consuming high levels of flavonoids—a natural chemical plants produce to keep themselves healthy—can reduce brain inflammation, protect brain cells from injury, and support memory. Some foods rich in flavonoids include dark berries, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, tea, and dark chocolate. Another brain booster: omega-3 fatty acids such as ALA (which are found in high amounts in walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds) and DHA (found in fatty fish like salmon).
During sleep, the brain goes through a “rinse cycle,” clearing itself of toxins and debris, including the beta-amyloid plaques that are believed to contribute to dementia. So don’t skimp on shut-eye: Aim to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.