Written by Tara Boustany on
March 15, 2022
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Tara Boustany on:

If you’ve ever misplaced your keys or forgotten important meetings, then you’ve probably been asking the same question a lot of people ask us, “how can I sharpen my memory?

Memory is a complex process that involves many different parts of the brain. It’s not about remembering names and numbers, but also how we learn, think and remember things. Several factors including stress, depression, or even poor nutrition can cause memory loss.

The human brain’s amazing capacity to adapt and change—even in old age—is known as neuroplasticity. There are a variety of things you can do to keep your mind sharp as you get older.

Are you looking for ways to improve your memory? In this blog post, we’ll talk about natural ways to improve memory. We’ll then discuss some common brain supplements that can help prevent memory loss.

So let’s get started!

How to Improve Memory Naturally 

Here are some simple tweaks you can do in your lifestyle that will improve your memory over the long run:

Reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet

Too much sugar, particularly in the form of added sugars, has been linked to health issues and chronic diseases, such as cognitive decline.

Researchers have discovered that a sugar-heavy diet may cause memory loss and reduce brain volume.

One study of over 4,000 individuals found that people who drank more sugary beverages such as soda had worse memories on average than others.

Cutting back on sugar helps improve your memory and benefits your general health.

Practice Meditation

Meditation may improve your health in a variety of ways.

It has been proven to reduce stress and pain, lower blood pressure, and enhance memory.

Meditation increases gray matter in the brain, which is made up of neuronal cell bodies. Gray matter in your brain deteriorates as you age, affecting memory and cognition.

Meditation has been found to enhance short-term memory in people of all ages.

Spatial working memory is the term used to describe your mind’s capacity to remember objects’ positions in space.

One study showed that college students who meditate had better spatial working memory than others.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining healthy body weight is essential for your physical and mental health. It’s one of the most effective methods to preserve your body and mind in good working order.

Obesity has been linked to cognitive decline in several studies. Being obese can alter memory-related genes in the brain, negatively affecting memory.

Obese individuals are also more likely to suffer from insulin resistance and inflammation, both of which can harm the brain.

According to a study of 50 individuals aged 18 to 35, a higher body mass index was linked to significantly worse memory performance.

Obese individuals are also more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. It is a progressive illness that causes memory and cognitive function to deteriorate.

Get Enough Sleep

For a long time, insufficient sleep has been linked to poor memory. Sleep is essential for memory consolidation. Memory consolidation occurs when short-term memories are strengthened and changed into long-lasting memories.

A study conducted on 40 children between the ages of 10 and 14 investigated the impact of sleep. One group of children was trained for memory tests in the evening, then tested the next morning following a night’s sleep.

The other group was trained and tested on the same day, without sleeping between training and testing. The group that slept between training and testing scored 20% higher on the memory tests.

According to one study, 68% of the nurses who worked the night shift performed worse on memory tests than those who worked during the day.

To maintain optimal health, experts recommend that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption

Excessive drinking can have a variety of negative health consequences, including memory loss.

In one study, college students who drank six or more drinks in a short amount of time were compared to students who never binge drink.

Those who regularly drank had problems with immediate and delayed memory recall tests. This was not the case for students who never binge drank.

Alcohol can have harmful neurological consequences. The hippocampus, a region of the brain that is important in memory, can be damaged by many episodes of binge drinking.

Drinking alcohol in moderation is healthy; but, avoiding binge drinking is a smart method to prevent cognitive decline.

Train Your Brain

Playing brain games to exercise your cognitive abilities is a fun method to prevent age-related memory loss.

Increasing your memory can be as simple as playing word-recall games or mobile apps dedicated to memory improvement.

A study of 4,715 people looked at people who did 15 minutes of an online brain-training program at least five days a week. Results showed that their short-term memory, working memory, concentration, and problem-solving improved significantly.

Also, mental exercise has been found to help prevent dementia in older adults.

Cut Down on Refined Carbs

Large amounts of refined carbohydrates, such as cakes, cereal, cookies, white rice, and white bread, might harm your memory.

Refined carbohydrates have a high glycemic index, which means they are rapidly absorbed by the body. This results in increased blood sugar levels.

The Western diet, which is heavy in refined carbohydrates, has been linked to dementia and reduced cognitive function.

Exercise More

Regular exercise is critical for both physical and psychological well-being.

There is evidence that exercising is beneficial for the brain and may assist with memory in people of all ages.

One study looked at 144 individuals aged 19 to 93. One 15 minute session of exercise on a stationary bike improved cognitive performance, including memory, in all ages.

Midlife exercise is also linked with a lowered risk of dementia later in life, according to studies.

Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Consuming a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods may prevent memory loss.

Antioxidants lower inflammation by reducing oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Fruits, vegetables, and teas all contain antioxidants.

In fact, people who consume more fruits and vegetables have fewer risks of cognitive deterioration than those who eat less of these foods.

Berries are high in antioxidants like flavonoids and anthocyanins. Consuming them might help to prevent memory loss.

According to a study, women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had slower rates of cognitive decline than other women.

How Can I Sharpen My Memory: Try These Brain Supplements

Adults use many supplements daily to keep their brains healthy. But are these products effective? Because supplements are not regulated by the FDA, what is written on the bottle is not always 100% true.

Here’s what we know and don’t know about some of these well-known products.

B Vitamins

B vitamins, such as B6, B12, and B9 (folic acid) are essential for the brain. Most people get enough B vitamins from their diet such as in leafy greens.

Unless you’re deficient in one of them or pregnant (folic acid is required to prevent birth defects), supplements will not help.

The use of vitamin B supplements to prevent memory loss is inconclusive. Always talk to your doctor before you add any vitamin supplements to your routine.

Vitamin E

Proper amounts of Vitamin E are also essential for optimal brain function. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, meaning that it fights free radicals, including those that harm your brain cells.

There is some evidence that people who eat a diet rich in vitamin E are less likely to develop dementia. Yet, it’s unclear whether vitamin E supplements would have the same effect.

The recommended dietary allowance for natural vitamin E is 15 mg per day. Excess vitamin E ingestion with supplements may be harmful and is linked with an increased risk of death.

Instead of taking pills, healthy people should consume nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. Vitamin E is also present in dark-colored fruits including blueberries, avocados, and dark leafy greens.

Caffeine

Caffeine has been found to improve memory, reaction times, and overall brain function in several studies. Caffeine is available as a dietary supplement.

Yet, you don’t need it since you can get it from other sources like coffee, tea, and dark chocolate. When taken as a stimulant, it is most often consumed at doses of 100 to 200 milligrams (caffeine base) every 3 to 4 hours as needed.

Single doses of around 200–400 milligrams per day are generally regarded as safe. But, caffeine can impair productivity if you consume too much of it. Caffeine excess has been linked to side effects like anxiety, nausea, and trouble sleeping.

L-Theanine

The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves attention span and visual information processing. In combination with caffeine: 12-100 mg L-theanine, 30-100 mg caffeine. Only a few studies have been done so far, such as one published in 2019 with only 30 participants.

Until more research is available, drinking green tea is a wise choice. This is because it naturally contains both L-theanine, caffeine, and antioxidants.

Omega-3s

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that is present in the greatest amounts in fish. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the two types of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.

DHA supplements improve attention, memory, and reaction times in individuals with low DHA intakes. It has also benefited people suffering from declining brain function.

EPA has anti-inflammatory properties that may protect the brain from harm and aging. Some benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include improved mood in people suffering from depression.

Fish oil, which includes both DHA and EPA, has been found to aid in the reduction of cognitive decline as people age. But, the protective effects of fish oil on the brain have been conflicting

The ideal approach to consume enough omega-3 fatty acids is to eat two portions of oily fish per week. There are still a lot of studies needed to determine the ideal ratio of DHA and EPA. The existing evidence recommends consuming 1g of combined DHA and EPA per day to preserve brain health.

There have been many studies on fish oil supplements and their effect on brain health. According to a recent study, DHA and EPA supplements may help postpone the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s also worth noting that not all the supplements are the same; they come in a variety of dosages and fish oil sources. For optimal results, the proper type of fish oil in the correct dosage is required.

Each capsule should have at least 250 mg of DHA (total daily intake of at least 1,000–1,500 mg), and 600 mg per day of EPA. These supplements should be taken with a meal and plenty of water. Your doctor will usually start you on a low dose and increase gradually to the most tolerated dose. 

Fish oil is usually safe but can cause bleeding and interfere with anticoagulants in certain people. Before considering fish oil supplements, go to your doctor for advice and to have regular blood work checked.

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba does not prevent memory loss, according to a recent study of 3,000 older adults. Also, in people who already had dementia, ginkgo had no beneficial effect on cognitive deterioration.

Furthermore, the plant might increase the bleeding risk. People who are on blood-thinning medications or have any bleeding problems should be very cautious.

The plant has some possible side effects according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They include headache, nausea, stomach upset, diarrhea, dizziness, allergic skin reactions. Always discuss potential side effects and interactions of ginkgo Biloba with your doctor.

Ginseng

Ginseng contains compounds that are known to provide health benefits such as enhanced brain function. Ginseng has been researched for its cognitive benefits, and many studies suggest that it may be a powerful brain booster.

A small study found that ginseng improved aspects of mental health and social functioning after 4 weeks of treatment. However, after 8 weeks, these benefits became insignificant. This implies that ginseng’s effects may lessen over time.

Another study compared the effects of single doses of 200 or 400 mg of ginseng in healthy individuals before and after a 10-minute mental test.

The 200mg dose was more effective than the 400mg dose at enhancing mental performance during the examination. A third study found that taking 400 mg of ginseng daily for eight days improved calmness and math skills.

In people with Alzheimer’s, multiple studies have shown positive effects on brain function and behavior. However, most of these studies are old, with only a small number of participants. As a result, further research is necessary before drawing any conclusions.

Curcumin

Curcumin has been praised for its antioxidant properties. It is found in turmeric and is considered to help in the maintenance of brain health.

Curcumin may protect against brain aging

Curcumin may help with memory and concentration by increasing blood flow to the brain. According to one study, a single dose of curcumin improves attention and memory in healthy elderly people within an hour.

Also, curcumin is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent. Chronic inflammation depletes energy production in brain cells, causing mental tiredness. This can cause anxiety, depression, brain fog, ADHD, and other neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Curcumin may be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease

Protein tangles, also known as amyloid plaques, are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin can help in the clearance of these plaques.

Recent studies suggest that curcumin can help in the clearance of these plaques. Alzheimer’s disease is caused by inflammation and oxidative damage.

As we previously stated, curcumin has beneficial effects on both and is one of the most promising treatments for Alzheimer’s. It’s uncertain whether curcumin may slow or reverse Alzheimer’s disease in people, and more study is needed.

Concluding Thoughts

We all start to notice some changes in our memory as we get older. Fortunately, there are several enjoyable, easy, and delicious strategies to boost your memory.

Memory can be enhanced by incorporating healthy habits in your daily life and taking supplements. Most healthy people don’t need supplements to keep their brains sharp.

A healthy diet including vegetables, berries, whole grains, and fish can help in the preservation of brain health as you age.

In the United States, supplements are lightly regulated, so there’s no assurance that what’s written on the bottle is true.

Also, some supplements cause side effects and/or interact with prescription medication. This is why you should always talk to your doctor before adding any supplements to your daily routine.

If you want to learn more about brain supplements, check out these educational articles here and feel free to join this online community of brain health enthusiasts.

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