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Memory Boosting Tips

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Question: I’m in my late 60’s and am becoming quite forgetful. Most recently I forgot my daughter’s birthday. Do you have any memory boosting tips?

BY Rebecca Laske 16 September, 2008 – 12:17

Answer: Many people experience occasional memory lapses. While lapses sometimes signal a deeper problem, most do not.

The key to a better memory is staying active in mind and body. Making lists, using notes and calendars and putting frequently used things in the same place helps.

Recent studies have shown that doing challenging mental tasks such as sudoku and cryptic crosswords can help preserve your memory by giving it a much needed work out.  Neuroscientist Professor Ian Robertson director of the Institute of Neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin, who carried out the study, said memory problems were not an inevitable part of ageing.

During the study of 3,000 men and women between 65 and 94 he found just ten sessions of brain power training improved their mental age by between seven and 14 years!

You should also try memorising favorite poems or famous passages. Read challenging books or articles that encourage you to expand your interests. Practice other-handedness. If you’re right-handed, try brushing your teeth or writing your shopping list with your left hand.  All these daily activities help keep your mind sharp.

Another great tip is to talk to yourself, for example when you lock the door say to yourself ‘I locked the door’ take a moment to mentally note what you are doing then there will be no doubt in your mind.  Also try combining routine chores, such as taking your tablets with your morning coffee.  Routines are easy to stick to once you get into them and can really help.

Food is important when it comes to functioning of the brain.  What you eat has a lasting effect on the way you feel throughout the day.  If you skip breakfast you will find you are less alert and more lethargic throughout the day.  Breakfast is essential for providing the fuel the brain needs after fasting all night.

Try not to have too many carbs at lunch, while a carbohydrate rich breakfast can help kick start your day, eating too many at lunch may leave you feeling sleepy and less able to concentrate. Eat wholegrain bread and plenty of protein to keep you going.

Eat plenty of fresh oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon and herring.  Fish is low in saturated fat and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. One kind of omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is important for the membranes of nerve cells and helps transport nutrients into the cell. DHA also regulates compounds that affect brain function.

Iron helps transport oxygen to brain cells. A lack of oxygen can cause cell functions to slow down and stop. If you are tired, irritable, and cannot think clearly, you may want to have a blood test done to check your iron. Good iron sources include lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. To boost iron absorption, eat a high-vitamin C food with your meal.

In addition to eating well, be sure to get plenty of rest, limit stress and be physically active everyday to boost your brainpower.

You could also try taking a supplement to boost your memory power. Ginkgo Biloba has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine to improve memory.  Recent studies have shown that chemical substances present in Ginkgo Biloba extracts are known both to improve blood flow, and to have powerful antioxidant action, both of these characteristics may contribute to the effectiveness of this extract in countering the symptoms associated with memory loss.

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