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Five simple ways to improve your memory

Forgetting things is something that can often seem to happen as we get older, but there are natural ways to slow down this part of the ageing process and keep your memory in tip-top condition.

1. Getting enough sleep

Doctors recommend that you get at least six hours of sleep a night. As well as helping with a number of other physical and psychological things, getting enough sleep allows the brain time to firm up memories of newly acquired information.

Getting enough sleep can help both your cognitive capacity and your memory. For example, if you've been struggling to remember something in the day, having a nap could bring it back into your mind.

2. Practising

Simply using your brain can help improve your memory, studies have shown.

According to Teresa Bliss, an educational psychologist, playing games or reading things that test your brain can help it in the long-term when it comes to memory.

"Engagement and interaction are the best ways to help people improve memory," she explained.

When learning something for the first time, it is best to use all your senses if you want to remember it for a long time, she advised.

"Memory can be improved by using a multi-sensory approach, this means incorporating as many sensory experiences as possible when teaching.  Our senses include sight, touch, smell, taste, as well as what we hear, all of those senses have a part in the brain that allows us to remember experiences involving those senses.

"The more we can integrate those senses in teaching the more opportunities… for remembering what has been taught."

She advises that individuals remember that memory is not a single unitary aspect of cognitive functioning - it is divided into lots of bits, including  visual memory and auditory memory.

3. Green tea

Japanese green tea has long been hailed as a memory enhancer.

Researchers believe that the chemical properties of this flavoursome brew could have an impact on our ability to retain information.

A study by the Third Military Medical University in China found that EGCG, a substance present in green tea, is beneficial in memory retention.

"We proposed that EGCG can improve cognitive function by impacting the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis. We focused our research on the hippocampus, the part of the brain which processes information from short-term to long-term memory," explained Professor Bai from the university.

The experiment consisted of teaching a group of mice about a hidden platform in a maze. The researchers gave some mice EGCG and kept the others clean.

Overall, the team found that the EGCG treated mice took less time to find the hidden platform, allowing them to conclude that EGCG enhances learning and memory by improving object recognition and spatial memory.

4. Walking

"Importantly for older people, walking has been shown to improve mental as well as physical health," according to Maria Castellina, spokeswoman for walking charity Ramblers.

Her comments come alongside research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which found that walking for 40 minutes a few times a week can improve memory in older adults.

5. A healthy diet

Professor June Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling, has claimed that daily portions of fruit and veg and weekly helpings of oily fish have been shown to boost brain power.

In addition, it is thought that foods rich in antioxidants are excellent at boosting memory power.

"A glass of red wine a day has been shown to be good for you, but it is important to know that too much alcohol has a very bad effect and accelerates the problem. A cup of coffee a day and green tea have both been highlighted as being good," she also claimed.

In particular, superfoods such as apples, yoghurt and salmon are thought to be beneficial to the memory.

It is thought that superfoods insulate the brain cell, allowing it to send messages to the rest of your body far faster – speeding up your thinking and reactions.

 
 
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