Even if you are relatively young and healthy, improving your memory can help you with all aspects of your life. But is it really possible to improve your memory? Research says yes, it is.
Experts say that to improve memory and other cognitive functions – such as concentration and decision making – you should:
- Keep learning new things
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
- Get enough sleep
- Take Nootropic supplements
How exactly can you improve your memory and concentration? Here’s what to focus on and how to improve memory naturally.
1. Keep learning new things
Challenging yourself with new tasks and “breaking out of your comfort zone” is a great way to encourage neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections in response to learning and experiences.
The best brain-boosting exercises to try are those that require concentration, full engagement and a bit of mental effort.
Any activity or hobby that requires hand-eye coordination and complex motor skills is also great for the brain.
Ideally you want to practice exercises that you can become increasingly good at over time, since progress is rewarding and fun. Some examples include:
- Learning a new instrument or language
- Building things with your hands
- Playing chess
2. Eating an Anti-inflammatory diet
One important aspect of improving your memory is providing your brain with the fuel it needs to protect against damage (like free radicals and oxidative stress) so it can operate at its best. That’s why eating an anti-inflammatory diet is one of the natural ways to improve memory.
A diet aimed at protecting cognitive function should be one filled with produce that is packed with antioxidants (colorful fruits and vegetables) plus protein, healthy fats and other anti-inflammatory ingredients.
You’ll want to include plenty of “brain foods” that support focus and memory, such as:
- Healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, coconut, nuts like walnuts, egg yolks, ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil
- High-antioxidant foods, such as leafy greens, peppers, onions, citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, dark cocoa, acai, turmeric, herbs, etc.
- Cold-water “fatty fish,” such as salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring
- Superfoods like wheatgrass, seaweed and algae
- Green tea and coffee in moderation
Getting regular exercise has been shown in studies to help protect both short- and long-term memory. It helps your brain stay sharp by:
- Increasing circulation and oxygen to your brain
- Managing inflammation and supporting a healthy immune system
- Reducing the risk for disorders that can contribute to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease
- Building resiliency against stress
- Reducing fatigue
- Releasing endorphins that fight depression
Aerobic exercises like brisk walking, swimming and cycling, are among the best options for older adults to improve memory through exercise.
4. Get enough sleep
Sleep makes a big impact not only on your energy level, but also your focus, memory, problem-solving abilities, emotion regulation and creativity. Researchers have even found that getting enough sleep plays a role in memory consolidation, which takes place during the deepest stages of sleep.
On average, adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night to feel their best. Some tips for getting better sleep include:
- Stick to a regular schedule to support your circadian rhythm (aka your internal clock). Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning.
- Limit screen time at night, and instead do something relaxing, such as reading, meditating, or writing.
- Cut back on alcohol, caffeine, sugar and spicy foods, especially close to bedtime.
- According to some studies, taking a nap (especially after learning new information) may also help you remember things more easily.
5. Taking supplements like Nootropics
How can I improve my memory fast? Let’s say you’re cramming for an exam and looking for ways to help you retain information. Nootropics may come in handy.
These supplements, some of which contain caffeine or other stimulating ingredients, tend to help with focus and possibly memory.
Nootropics cover a broad range of focus-boosting herbs and supplements such as:
- Adaptogenic herbs, like ginseng and rhodiola
- Medicinal mushrooms, such as cordyceps
- Amino acids, like L-carnitine
- DHA/fish oil
- B vitamins, especially B12
- Coffee or green tea extract
- Gingko biloba
Each nootropic supplement works in a unique way and has its own specific mechanisms of actions. Many are capable of altering levels of certain neurotransmitters, enzymes or hormones in the brain, such as:
This allows these supplements to increase energy and motivation, promote blood flow and help protect the brain from oxidative stress — another option for how to improve memory.