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Education & Finance: Improving Memory

Updated: Jan 14, 2019

An Improved Memory has many benefits, ranging from attaining information to brilliant money making ideas. The human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change—even into old age. This ability is known as neuroplasticity. With the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways.

1. Adequate Sleep

Research shows that sleep is necessary for memory consolidation, with the key memory-enhancing activity occurring during the deepest stages of sleep.

Get on a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning to train your circadian rhythm.

Health experts recommend adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health [1].

My current sleep schedule, after trial and error, is 10:30pm to 5:30am.

Find what works best for you.

2. Workout for your Brain

Memory, like muscular strength, requires us to “use it or lose it.”

Choose a learning activity that makes you think, something you didn’t know from before.

Choose activities that, while challenging, are still enjoyable and satisfying because that support the brain’s learning process.

Studies show that 15 minutes of brain-training at least five days a week significantly improved the short-term memory, working memory, concentration and problem-solving. [2]

3. Physical Exercise increases oxygenation to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise also enhances the effects of helpful brain chemicals and reduces stress hormones. Perhaps most importantly, exercise plays an important role in neuroplasticity by boosting growth factors and stimulating new neuronal connections.

For example, a study of 144 people aged 19 to 93 showed that an episode of 15 minutes of moderate exercise on a stationary bike led to improved cognitive performance, including memory, across all ages [3].

4. Healthy Relationships

We are social animals. We are not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation.

Relationships stimulate our brains.

In one recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health, for example, researchers found that people with the most active social lives had the slowest rate of memory decline. We are meant to laugh and cry with our loved ones. In contrast to other emotional responses that primarily target one or two sections of the brain, laughter is known to enlist various brain regions. This engagement, and hence 'exercise' of multiple brain regions posit that laughter is the best medicine.

5. Relegate Stress

We all have heard that "stress is bad". This stems from studies that show that chronic stress can damage brain cells, specifically the hippocampus. Since hippocampus is the 'memory center' of the brain, i.e., involved in formation and retrieval of memories; stress directly influences memory loss.

Meditation has been shown to have a positive effect on the brain. As a primary stress reducer, meditation changes the actual brain, and improves memory [4]. Active scans of the brain show that during meditation, the left prefrontal cortex is more active. This area of the brain is associated with feelings of happiness, calmness and serenity. Moreover, the gray matter, that contains neuron cell bodies [5], has been shown to increase as a result of meditation.

6. Eat a brain-boosting diet

The number of calories and what constitute those calories are both important. Diets that have a high saturated fat content, increase the chances of dementia and memory loss in the long-run, and loss of concentration in the short-run. Red meat, whole milk, butter, cheese, cream, and ice cream have a high saturated fat content. Sugar has a similar effect on the short-term memory [6, 7].

Omega 3 fats on the other hand have been shown to improve heart health, relieve stress, reduce inflammation, and slow brain cell recession [8, 9]. Some studies have even shown that Fish oil supplements (Omega 3 high) can improve episodic memory [10].

Green tea contains powerful antioxidants (polyphenols) that protect against 'free radicals' that can damage brain cells.

Low levels of Vitamin D are attributed to bad memory. A study of more than 300 older adults over a 5 year period shows that normal vitamin D levels (~20 nanograms per ml blood level) are essential for maintaining memory and cognitive abilities [11].

People who eat more fruits and vegetables maintain their cognitive abilities. Multiple studies conducted for more than 30K people show that dementia and cognitive decline is rapid in individuals who consume less nutritious food, as compared to individuals incorporating a healthy fruit and vegetable diet [12]


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