It’s happened to all of us. You get to the store and can’t remember what you’re there for. Or, even with a calendar reminder, you still forget that appointment. It doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s disease or are having a so-called “senior moment.” However, research shows that memory loss can actually begin as early as your 20s, and it continues as you age. Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do throughout your day to help protect your memory and stay sharp.
- Don’t Skip Breakfast – Your brain needs food to get going in the morning and keep you going all day. A Tufts University study found that folks who skipped breakfast performed worse on memory-based tasks than those who didn’t.
- Get in a Morning Workout - Exercise increases the blood flow to your brain, bringing much-needed oxygen and glucose for energy. In fact, a study in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory found that subjects learned vocabulary words 20% faster when trying to memorize them after doing an intense workout rather than a low-impact activity. Try taking a dance or kickboxing class—anything that requires you to remember a routine for even more brain boosting power.
- Surf the Web – Yes – you read the correctly. Spending an hour a day looking online for something you’re interested in (like researching spots for your next vacation) may stimulate the part of your frontal lobe that controls short-term memory, according to a recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles. The neural circuits involved in decision-making, visual-spatial, and verbal skills become very active when you do an Internet search. It can’t be mindless surfing though (ie. Facebook doesn’t count).
- Enjoy a Drink with Dinner - While drinking too much can lead to memory loss, a new study finds that drinking in moderation may actually lower your risk for memory problems. In an analysis published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, participants who consumed seven or fewer alcoholic drinks total per week had the lowest risk for cognitive impairment, compared with those who either didn’t drink at all and those who drank more. Researchers believe this may be due to the anti-inflammatory properties of alcohol.
- Floss Your Teeth – Flossing can actually be good for your cognitive abilities. When you don’t floss, your gums become inflamed, making it easier for bad bacteria to enter your bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can cause inflammation throughout your body, including in the brain, which can lead to cognitive dysfunction. So be sure to floss daily – your dentist and your brain will thank you!