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How to Keep Your Memory Sharp

While a lot of our memory prowess depends on genes, there’s plenty of studies that suggests lifestyle choices may actually help make memories stick. Here are some practical things you can do to rev up your recall.

Memory is a complicated process, but science is continuing to target new ways we can make simple changes every day to boost our memory capacity. While memory loss is a normal part of aging, that doesn’t mean we can’t slow down the process with these tips.

Get some shuteye.

For decades, science has indicated that sleep is a critical time when memories consolidate and get stored. This is the process of committing a memory and making it available for recall. So it makes sense that if we cut down on sleep, we compromise our memory performance. Try to make sleep a priority by shooting for at least seven hours a night.

Meditate.

Working memory is something we use every day. If you hear someone’s name or an address, your working memory helps you hang on to that information until you no longer need it. Research has shown that people who have never practiced mindful meditation can improve their recall in just eight weeks. Meditation has also been shown to improve gray matter, the nerve cells in the brain. As we age, gray matter declines, affecting memory and cognition.

Move more.

Regular exercise is good for us in so many ways, but it’s also thought to improve our recall – spatial memory, in particular. Physical activity increases blood flow to your brain. Even just a few minutes of light exercise each day may result in immediate memory improvements.

Consume less sugar and alcohol.

Studies have shown that excessive sugar and alcohol intake can lead to poor memory and reduced brain volume, particularly in the area of short-term memory. Protracted binge drinking can damage the hippocampus, which plays a key role in memory.

Eat more flavonoids.

Including high-flavanoid foods such as dark-colored berries and cocoa in your diet may help slow memory decline and improve overall recall. One long-term study showed that older adults who ate two servings of blueberries a week for several weeks experienced slower memory decline.

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