Can’t remember why you walked downstairs to the kitchen? Forget where you last put your glasses? Advancing age means an elevated risk for various debilitating diseases and conditions like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but minor memory lapses can also be the result of normal age-related changes in the structure and function of the brain.
However, research has also shown that you can maintain and even improve cognitive functioning by adopting healthy lifestyle habits including the five following tips.
- Hold the Grease: Diets high in fat have been repeatedly linked to inferior brain function. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that when rats consumed a diet loaded with saturated fat, their performances on memory tests were significantly worse than other rats.
- Up the Aerobics: Regular exercise doesn’t just benefit your body it also benefits your brain. Physical activity gets your blood pumping, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Consistent exercise has been shown to delay memory loss, slow cognitive decline and muscle atrophy, and boost mood and mental wellbeing.
- Incorporate Omega-3s: Multiple studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent damage to brain cells and boost memory power. Strive to eat three portions of oily fish per week. Salmon, trout, mackerel and seaweed are all loaded with omega-3s.
- Play Games: Just as physical activity keeps your body fit, mental stimulation helps keep your brain in shape, strengthening communication pathways. Researchers believe that playing mentally stimulating games like bridge and chess, or doing puzzles like Sudoku or the Sunday crossword can help improve memory.
- Take a Mental Picture: To help make the memory of an event last, take a “snapshot” of it while you’re in the moment, using all your senses. Look around and think about everything you see. You can also employ this trick when reading the newspaper. Next time you read an article, take a mental note of the main points of each paragraph, and then repeat the gist of the story to yourself from memory.