Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

We are all aware of the perks of having a sharp memory. From academic achievement to even our day to day to interactions, memory plays a prime role. According to Psychology, memory, is nothing but an ideal revival of past experience. When an event occurs, we do not directly store it in our brain as a fragment of memory for that event. For a memory to last long enough it has to be released repeatedly. This is how memory reaches out brain and is engraved on our system as long term memory. If the information is not rehearsed enough, then the memory is a short-term memory, which can be forgotten in less than 20 minutes. Hence, rehearsal is key to having a good memory. Another factor without which memory functions like encoding, storage and retrieval is impossible is a well functioning nervous system, especially the brain and the neurons. If your brain is not healthy, it is impossible to have a good memory. This is the reason, in times of stress and anxiety, memory functions are less retentive.

There are certain elements of the nature that help us in boosting our memory, while some other things are potentially harmful to memory tasks.

7 Things That Affect Your Memory Positively

7 Things That Affect Your Memory Positively

  1. Eating More Fish

    You must be aware that almost 60% of the brain is made up of fat. And half of the fat is the omega-3 kind. It is believed that when you consume broiled or baked fish, such as trout, salmon or sardines are very useful on providing the brain with a burst of Omega-3 fatty acid, which directly results in better learning and memory, since the brain cells are becoming healthy. Having such fatty fish also leads to a lower risk of mental decline and even Alzheimer's.

  2. Exercising the Brain

    Keeping your brain active, makes memory and learning better. When your brain is active, just like the rest of your body, it is better at adaptation and accommodation. The best methods of keeping your brain active may be things like learning a new language, reading, completing crossword or other kinds of puzzles, playing an instrument etc.

  3. Meditation

    It has been found by research scientists in the Harvard University that meditation can lead to the overall increase in the grey matter in a region that is closely related to memory and other cognitive processes. This is the reason why memory is closely related to meditation. Meditation is basically a kind of an exercise, but for the brain. You can sit or lie down, relax and keep your breathing normal. Try to eradicate all excess thoughts from the brain. Concentrate only on how your body is moving while you keep breathing in and out. Only 30 minutes of meditation per day is considered to be enough to boost your memory and overall brain power.

  4. Keep a Memory Notebook

    If you struggle to keep up with the thoughts you have or struggle to remember something. It has been suggested by psychologists to keep a memory journal. A memory journal is basically a diary where you pen down all your thoughts and the things to be done. You can keep referring to the diary throughout the day, at any time of need.

    One perk of keeping a memory notebook, is that they make it impossible to forget anything because you literally have it written down. Also, writing something down, makes it easier to have a good memory for that thing.

    Writing things down is hence better than keeping a record digitally. Once you write, your brain gets and additional input of the information, which is obviously better in keeping a good memory for that information.

  5. Snack on Blueberries

    Blueberries are packed with antioxidants that are very useful in protecting the brain against inflammatory diseases or other neurodegenerative disorders. It has been found through many studies that eating blueberries is directly connected to improvement in memory. They are also functional in delaying the loss of short term memory in the long run. In a study where subjects were made to drink wild blueberry juice for a period of 12 weeks, resulted in a better memory. Besides, the subjects also showed lower depressive tendencies and a healthier glucose level. Blueberries are really easy to consume. You can snack on the fruit as it is, or sprinkle a handful in your cereals or juice.

  6. Drink Green Tea

    According to a study conducted by the University of Basel, green tea consists of such chemicals that are very important in making our memory sharper. Several compounds found in green tea, like EGCG, L-theanine etc, increases neurogenesis, that is the production of new nerve cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is related to proper functioning of the short term memory. The benefits of green tea, however, has not been properly discussed, it is hence more important to combine green tea with other healthy habits like exercise and eating fish.

  7. Exercise

    Our physical well-being has a direct effect on our mental health. Proper exercise leads to loss of sweat which in turn improves mood and other cognitive functions. When cognition is healthy, other such brain functions like memory is also sharpened. It has been proven by a study on animals that there was an increase in brain functions as the there was subsequent increase in brain cell development when animals were made to run on a daily basis for 12 continuous days. If you perform at least 45 Minutes of aerobics on any 4 days a week, it leads to boost in memory functions.

What can Deteriorate My Memory?

Lack of Sleep: On an average, we require at least 8 hours of sleep for our brain to perform perfectly. Most of us are in the habit of sleeping late and prefer going over our phone late at night. However, it is very important to get proper sleep. Sleep is essential for us as that is the time our brain gets to process all the information that has been passed on throughout the day. This is the time when the memory for different events is consolidated. If the memory is not sufficiently consolidated, it will be impossible to remember things in the long run. You should at least get 8 hours of sleep every night in order for your brain to unwind all the information.

Eating At Night - Most of us are in the habit of staying up late at night, socializing or watching movies. This is the time, we feel like binge eating on some snacks. But little we are aware that sleeping when we are actually supposed to be sleeping is actually detrimental to our memory functioning. If your sleep is getting disrupted because of binge eating, you are actually harming both your short term as well as your long term memory. Besides eating 9, you should also eat at proper time before going to sleep.

Stress and Anxiety: The hormone that is generated during stressful situation, cortisol is considered to reduce synapses in the brain. Reduction of such synapses may lead to the loss of short term memory. This means, that of we are anxious or extremely stressed about some event that leads to subsequent loss in memory. This means, that stress and anxiety may lead memory loss in people. Meditation is a great way to tackle stress and anxiety. If you feel too stressed and your anxiety is making it impossible to function, always consult a doctor.

Being Overweight: According to The University of Cambridge, having a higher body mass index or BMI can be detrimental to both your short term as well as long term memory. In the study, people with a BMI over 25 scored 15% lesser in a memory recall test, than people who had a BMI less than 25. This is the reason why you should always keep your body weight within check.

Prescription Drugs: Medicines that are prescribed against anxiety cause memory loss at many times. Medicines like Xanax, Valium and Antivan, which are basically benzodiazepins cause the brain area attached to short term memory into hazard. The movement of memory traces from short term memory to long term memory is slowed down by these medicines. Other medications like tricyclic antidepressants also have such effects on memory loss.

Smoking: Smoking causes damage to the brain by impairing blood supply to and from the brain. Smoking causes memory lapses. People who smoke have a higher risk of impairment in brain cognition than those who have never smoked in their lives. Cigarette smoking also causes accumulation of abnormal proteins that may lead to the damage of brain functions that are related to the brain's ability to relay information and process them.

Hence, it is clearly visible, that some food products are harmful to memory. It is thus very essential to eat food or do such activities that are actually beneficial to short term as well as long term memory.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 31, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest