7 Ways to Protect Your Memory
How to protect your mind now
It happens to all of us: You stop at the store and forget the one thing you went for. You blank on your co-worker’s husband’s name—Is it John? Jim? And where are those darn keys?!? It’s normal to be forgetful once in awhile, especially if you’ve got a lot on your plate.
But even if you’re years away from worrying about senior moments, research shows that memory loss can actually begin as early as your 20s, and it continues as you age. Thankfully, taking a few easy steps throughout your day can help you stay sharp—and maybe even help you remember where you put those keys!
Step No. 1: Eat toast for breakfast
Skipping carbs may harm your memory. A Tufts University study found that folks who eliminated carbohydrates from their diets performed worse on memory-based tasks than those who included them. Why? Your brain cells need carbs, which are converted in your body to glucose, to stay in peak form, says study co-author Robin Kanarek, PhD, professor of psychology at Tufts.
Pick whole grains and other complex carbs—they’re digested more slowly, so they deliver a steadier stream of glucose. Grab a whole-wheat muffin or slice of toast with a scrambled egg and cup of berries for a breakfast that’ll jump-start your gray matter.
Step No. 2: Take a kickboxing class before work
In fact, you can learn vocabulary words 20% faster if you try to memorize them after doing an intense workout rather than a low-impact activity, suggests a study in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. Up the ante even more by taking a dance or kickboxing classanything that requires you to remember a routine.
Step No.3: Change the font on your morning memo
Focusing on a new font may make your brain’s processing center work a little harder, upping your recall. Change to Comic Sans Italicized (the font used in the study) for a quick fix that you may not notice but your brain will.
Step No. 4: Do a Web search during lunch
"The neural circuits involved in decision-making, visual-spatial, and verbal skills become very active when you do an Internet search," explains Gary Small, MD, lead author of the study. Don’t just mindlessly surf, though: If it’s too easy, Dr. Small says, it won’t be effective. (Facebook won’t do the trick!)
Step No. 5: Eye your parking spot
Practicing this simple eye movement may increase your long-term memory by up to 10%, say researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University in England. "That little extra boost might be just what’s needed to help you recall an important piece of information," says Andrew Parker, PhD, the study’s lead author.
Step No. 6: Drink a little with dinner
Researchers believe alcohol’s anti-inflammatory properties may be the reason. Or it could be that people who drink moderately also tend to lead a healthier lifestyle. Cheers to that!
Step No. 7: Floss before bed
Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can cause inflammation throughout your body, including in the brain, which can lead to cognitive dysfunction. So floss daily (twice is ideal) to keep the absentmindedness away.