Many people tell me the they have no memory of being a child and they feel that this means there is something wrong either with their memory system or brain or that something must have happened that they do not want to remember. In most people nothing could be further from the truth.
Memories are essential in our lives because they allow us to grow and learn to be a better person. Our recollections can teach us very important life lessons, demonstrate skills and abilities and can make us feel happy and entertained. ... We can remember where we did our mistakes and learn from it.
Remembering or memory
We do not develop the brain capacity to remember things until we are about 3 years of age - so not remembering or having a memory of anything before that age is normal. As your brain develops so you will recall more and more.Our memory is a skill, and just like other skills, it can be improved with practice and healthy overall habits. You can start small. For example, pick a new challenging activity to learn, incorporate a few minutes of exercise into your day, maintain a sleep schedule, and eat a few more green vegetables, fish, and nuts.
Some people do have flashes of memory before they were three years of age but not fully developed memory of scenes, people, smells or tastes. And this is quite normal too.
It is interesting to note that at the age of about 3 years we develop our sense of will - we are determining what we will or won't do. That's why it is called the 'terrible twos '- because the child is in its third year and is trying out self-determination. 'No'becomes the child's favourite word.
This is an important aspect of a child's development - if you want them to grow up to be an independent, motivated and resilient adult then you need to give them choices and consequences. Little things such as choosing which ice cream to buy and then not buying them another one if they don't like that flavour.
You would be surprised how many parents buy their child another ice cream when they don't like the flavour they have asked for; and then the parent wonders why they have a whiny child who is never satisfied with what they have been given.
'Giving in' all the time might keep the child quiet for a few minutes but it does not teach them consequences of their choices. A child will always respond to how the parent treats them - if everything is done with kindness (even giving and sticking with choices) then the child will be perfectly OK with it.
It is better to select two flavours the child would like normally and ask them which one they would like now. Then once they have chosen they stick with that choice. This way you know they will like whichever one they choose as they slowly slowly learn to discern and deal with the consequences. If you want them to try a different flavour then get a 'taster' and don't worry if they don't like it. At least they have tried. It is better that they know they can try something and can leave it i.e. they can change their mind. This also helps them to learn to judge - if they don't like something they can say 'no.'
When a child remembers the flavour they like even months later then you know the brain is developing memory.
14 Natural Ways to Improve Your Memory
Everyone has moments of forgetfulness from time to time, especially when life gets busy.
While this can be a completely normal occurrence, having a poor memory can be frustrating.
Genetics plays a role in memory loss, especially in serious neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. However, research has shown that diet and lifestyle have a major impact on memory too.
Here are 14 evidence-based ways to improve your memory naturally.
1. Eat Less Added Sugar
Eating too much added sugar has been linked to many health issues and chronic diseases, including cognitive decline.
Research has shown that a sugar-laden diet can lead to poor memory and reduced brain volume, particularly in the area of the brain that stores short-term memory
For example, one study of more than 4,000 people found that those with a higher intake of sugary beverages like soda had lower total brain volumes and poorer memories on average compared to people who consumed less sugar
Cutting back on sugar not only helps your memory but also improves your overall health.
2. Try a Fish Oil Supplement
Fish oil is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
These fats are important for overall health and have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, relieve stress and anxiety, and slow mental decline
Many studies have shown that consuming fish and fish oil supplementsmay improve memory, especially in older people.
One study of 36 older adults with mild cognitive impairment found that short-term and working memory scores improved significantly after they took concentrated fish oil supplements for 12 months
Both DHA and EPA are vital to the health and functioning of the brain and also help reduce inflammation in the body, which has been linked to cognitive decline
3. Make Time for Meditation
The practice of meditation may positively affect your health in many ways.
It is relaxing and soothing, and has been found to reduce stress and pain, lower blood pressure and even improve memory
In fact, meditation has been shown to increase gray matter in the brain. Gray matter contains neuron cell bodies
As you age, gray matter does not have to decline and so negatively impact memory and cognition
Meditation and relaxation techniques have been shown to improve short-term memory in people of all ages, from people in their 20s to the elderly
For example, one study demonstrated that Taiwanese college students who engaged in meditation practices like mindfulness had significantly better spatial working memory than students who did not practice meditation
Spatial working memory is the ability to hold and process information in your mind about the positions of objects in space.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight is essential for well-being and is one of the best ways to keep your body and mind in top condition.
Several studies have established obesity as a risk factor for cognitive decline.
Obesity can also lead to insulin resistance and inflammation, both of which can negatively impact the brain
A study of 50 people between the ages of 18 and 35 found that a higher body mass index was associated with significantly worse performance on memory tests
Obesity is also associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive disease that destroys memory and cognitive function
5. Get Enough Sleep
Lack of proper sleep has been associated with poor memory for quite some time.
Sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation, a process in which short-term memories are strengthened and transformed into long-lasting memories.
One study looked at the effects of sleep in 40 children between the ages of 10 and 14.
One group of children was trained for memory tests in the evening, then tested the following morning after a night’s sleep. The other group was trained and tested on the same day, with no sleep between training and testing.
The group that slept between training and testing performed 20% better on the memory tests
Another study found that nurses working the night shift made more mathematical errors and that 68% of them scored lower on memory tests compared to nurses working the day shift
Health experts recommend adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health
6. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a mental state in which you focus on your present situation, maintaining awareness of your surroundings and feelings.
Mindfulness is used in meditation, but the two aren’t one and the same. Meditation is a more formal practice, whereas mindfulness is a mental habit you can use in any situation.
One study of 293 psychology students showed that those who underwent mindfulness training had improved recognition-memory performance when recalling objects compared to students who did not receive mindfulness
Mindfulness has also been linked with a lower risk of age-related cognitive decline and an overall improvement in psychological well-being
7. Drink Less Alcohol
Consuming too many alcoholic beverages can be detrimental to your health in many ways and can negatively impact your memory.
Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that raises your blood alcohol levels to 0.08 grams per ml or above. Studies have shown it alters the brain and results in memory deficits.
A study of 155 college freshmen found that students who consumed six or more drinks within a short period of time, either weekly or monthly, had difficulties in immediate and delayed memory-recall tests compared to students who never binge
Alcohol exhibits neurotoxic effects on the brain. Repeated episodes of binge drinking can damage the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a vital role in memory
While having a drink or two now and then is perfectly healthy, avoiding excessive alcohol intake is a smart way to protect your memory.
8. Train Your Brain
Exercising your cognitive skills by playing brain games is a fun and effective way to boost your memory.
Crosswords, word-recall games, Tetris and even mobile apps dedicated to memory training are excellent ways to strengthen memory.
A study that included 42 adults with mild cognitive impairment found that playing games on a brain-training app for eight hours over a four-week period improved performance in memory tests
Another study of 4,715 people showed that when they did 15 minutes of an online brain-training program at least five days a week, their short-term memory, working memory, concentration and problem-solving improved significantly compared to a control group
Plus, brain-training games have been shown to help reduce the risk of dementia in older adults
9. Cut Down Refined Carbs
Consuming large amounts of refined carbohydrates like cakes, cereal, cookies, white rice and white bread may be damaging to your memory.
These foods have a high glycemic index, meaning the body digests these carbohydrates quickly, leading to a spike in blood sugar levels
Studies have shown that the Western diet, which is high in refined carbohydrates, is associated with dementia, cognitive decline and reduced cognitive function
One study of 317 healthy children found that those who consumed more processed carbs like white rice, noodles and fast food had reduced cognitive capacity, including poorer short-term and working memory
Another study demonstrated that adults who consumed ready-to-eat breakfast cereal daily had poorer cognitive function than those who consumed cereal less frequently
10. Get Your Vitamin D Levels Tested
Vitamin D is an important nutrient that plays many vital roles in the body.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to a host of health issues, including a reduction in cognitive function.
A study that followed 318 older adults for five years found that those who had blood levels of vitamin D less than 20 nanograms per ml lost their memory and other cognitive abilities faster than those with normal vitamin D levels
11. Exercise More
Exercise is important for overall physical and mental health.
Research has established that it’s beneficial for the brain and may help improve memory in people of all ages, from children to older adults.
For example, a study of 144 people aged 19 to 93 showed that a single bout of 15 minutes of moderate exercise on a stationary bike led to improved cognitive performance, including memory, across all ages
Many studies have shown exercise may increase the secretion of neuroprotective proteins and improve the growth and development of neurons, leading to improved brain health
Regular exercise in midlife is also associated with a decreased risk of developing dementia later in life
12. Choose Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Consuming a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods may help improve your memory.
Antioxidants help lower inflammation in the body by reducing oxidative stress caused by free radicals. You can consume antioxidants in foods like fruits, vegetables and teas.
A recent review of nine studies with more than 31,000 people found that those who ate more fruits and vegetables had lower risks of cognitive decline and dementia compared to those who consumed less of these nutritious foods
Berries are particularly high in antioxidants like flavonoids and anthocyanins. Eating them may be an excellent way to prevent memory loss.
One study of more than 16,000 women demonstrated that those who consumed the most blueberries and strawberries had slower rates of cognitive decline and memory loss than women who ate fewer berries
13. Consider Curcumin
Curcumin is a compound found in high concentrations in turmeric root. It’s one of a category of compounds called polyphenols.
It is a potent antioxidant and exerts powerful anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
Multiple animal studies have found that curcumin reduces oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain and also lowers the quantity of amyloid plaques. These accumulate on neurons and cause cell and tissue death, leading to memory loss
14. Add Some Cocoa to Your Diet
Cocoa is not only delicious but also nutritious, providing a powerful dose of antioxidants called flavonoids. Research suggests flavonoids are particularly beneficial to the brain.
They may help stimulate the growth of blood vessels and neurons and increase blood flow in parts of the brain involved with memory.
A study of 30 healthy people found that those who consumed dark chocolate containing 720 mg of cocoa flavonoids demonstrated better memory compared to those who consumed white chocolate without cocoa flavonoids
To get the most benefit out of chocolate, choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% cacao or higher. That will help ensure it contains larger amounts of antioxidants like flavonoids.
The Bottom Line for your memory
There are many fun, simple and even delicious ways to improve your memory.
Exercising your mind and body, enjoying a quality piece of chocolate and reducing the amount of added sugar in your diet are all excellent techniques.
Try adding a few of these science-backed tips to your daily routine to boost your brain health and keep your memory in top condition.