Many people consider lapses in memory and decreased mental sharpness to be something that comes with old age, but living a certain lifestyle can allow you to keep your brain in tip-top shape well into your later years. Research has found that the hippocampus is able to create new cells throughout your lifetime as long as it is being stimulated under the right conditions. Check out these tips to boost your memory and brain function.
- Give your brain a workout: Many people don’t realize that growing your mind is a lot like growing your muscles; if you don’t use it, you lose it! Overtime the brain builds neurological pathways that allow familiar tasks to seem second nature, but if we don’t challenge our brains with new tasks it will not continue to grow. There are so many fun ways to stimulate your brain from puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku to taking up a new skill like playing guitar so pick something that interests you and dive in!
- Exercise: During physical activity, blood flow to the brain is increased which results in elevated oxygen levels. This increase of oxygen helps protect the brain against conditions that can cause memory loss like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Research also shows that exercise plays a role in stimulating the creating of new neural pathways. Aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, or swimming is especially good for the brain in comparison to anaerobic activities.
- Sleep: Adults should be getting between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Depriving the body of proper sleep can negatively affect memory, creativity, problem-solving, and even critical thinking. Studies have shown that REM sleep specifically plays a critical role in memory consolidation. Staying on a regular sleep schedule is important for keeping your brain functioning optimally. Also try to avoid caffeine before bed or falling asleep with the TV on as these factors can interfere with your sleep cycle.
- Diet: Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to help reduce inflammation and facilitate the formation of new cells in the brain. It is also believed that omega-3 can help prevent dementia and depression so start incorporating more fish into your diet. Research has shown that saturated fats can have negative effects on the brain so limiting red meats, whole milk, and butter will help preserve memory and brain function.