Getting the most out of your organic hard-drive

Getting the most out of your organic hard-drive

Author:

FoodToDo

Published: 11/23/17

As the limits of the human mind haven't yet been discovered, we always strive to improve our cognitive function, or, in layman's terms, our memory. Whether the aim is to do well in a test or an exam or just impress your friends, having a good ability to recall things is useful in many aspects of our lives.

Even if you don't have a good memory, or you claim that you don't, nothing is lost as yet! There are many ways to improve your memory from mnemonics to witty tips and tricks, but here I’ll demonstrate how you can help boost your recollection through healthy eating and living.

Hacking from the inside

One of the easiest ways to support your memory is to start eating healthy foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants to feed your brain (1). You need to eat anyway, so you might as well consume meals that are full of ingredients which help you!


As an aide memoire for your next supermarket trip, make sure you add these brain-tastic foods to your shopping basket:


  • Nuts and Seeds: particularly walnuts (1) and pumpkin seeds (2) which contain antioxidants and a range of vitamins and minerals to support your brain. Many also contain Omega 3 - more on that coming up shortly...
  • Vegetables: the green, cruciferous kind are especially good such as broccoli, kale and cabbage. These are high in Vitamin K which has been shown to boost cognitive function, (2).
  • Berries: the darker the colour, the better! Think blueberries and cherries which are packed with anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds that may help boost your memory, (1), (2).
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids: these fats are important for healthy brain function and have anti-inflammatory properties, (3). Oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines are a great source of omega 3. If you’re vegetarian, try pumpkin seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds.
  • Dark Chocolate: yes, you did read that correctly! Dark chocolate - choose one with at least 70% cocoa content - contains flavonoids which have been shown to promote memory and protect brain health, (4).


You see, there are many, many foods that can contribute to your memory, so healthy eating should be an effective and easy way to build up that extra mental storage.

Helping from the outside

It's a well-known fact that exercise is good for you, but did you know that it has several positive effects on your memory, too? (5) Aerobic training increases the oxygen level of your brain and thus helps it function better, just for starters.


Additionally, regular exercise decreases the risk of various diseases, such as diabetes, that cause memory loss, (6). The hormones released during a workout promote your recall abilities and encourage the development of neurons, (7).   


You shouldn't necessarily get stuck on aerobics or weight-lifting workouts when you hear the word 'exercise', though. Physical activities that require complex motor skills are not only fun, but also help your brain immensely, such as dancing, horse-riding, or basketball.


And what is the easiest way to integrate daily exercise into your life? If you can, exercising first thing in the morning can be immensely beneficial for you. You'll be hitting two birds with one stone, as the active start will energize you for the rest of the day and will help your brain and memory in the process, (8).

Priceless ideas

You can adjust your diet and your workout schedule, but there's still even more that you can do for yourself and that much desired enhanced memory. Changing how you do certain things is a cost-effective way to ensure that your brain can perform at its best, as well as make you mindful of the factors which affect your cognitive skills.


Adequate quality sleep, of course, is a basic requirement - a brain that's not rested can't function properly. Furthermore, our brain processes information and solidifies learnt material during sleep, (9), so not getting enough of it is the worst mistake one can make. Experts say that around 7 to 9 hours is the ideal sleep time for an adult (10), though it varies from individual to individual, so you should set your sleep schedule according to your personal needs.


One key factor people are often ignorant about is relaxation. We live in a world where we never have time for anything, so we always feel stressed. The truth is, it's not good for you! Among the various negative effects of stress, there's decreased memory and mental abilities, (11) - to the point that prolonged stress can have you grasping for basic words which just don't come to your tongue.

Unhealthy habits such as smoking, using drugs, or even heavy drinking, (12), (13), can significantly decrease your memory, besides the other long-term effects they have on the human body. Being pestered to ditch such habits can be annoying, but dedicating the time and effort to do so can help you in many ways.


There are many other ideas and techniques that help you improve your memory, but this should give you a proper basis from which to start.


References


(1) Moore, M (2016). ‘4 Types of Food to Help Boost Your Memory’. Eat Right, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. November 2016 (online). Available at:

http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/wellness/healthy-aging/memory-boosting-foods


(2) Jennings, K-A (2017). ‘11 Best Foods to Boost Your Brain and Memory’. Authority Nutrition, Healthline.

Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-brain-foods#section6


(3) Wysoczański, T et al. (2016). ‘Omega-3 Fatty Acids and their Role in Central Nervous System - A Review’. Current Medical Chemistry, 23(8):816-31 (online).

Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26795198


(4) Spencer, JP (2009). ‘Flavonoids and brain health: multiple effects underpinned by common mechanisms’. Genes Nutrition, 4(4):243-50 December 2009 (online).

Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19685255


(5) Gomez-Pinilla, F et al. (2013). ‘The Influence of Exercise on Cognitive Abilities’. American Physiology Society, Volume 3, Issue 1. January 2013 (online). Available at:

http://www.comprehensivephysiology.com/WileyCDA/CompPhysArticle/refId-c110063.html


(6) Diabetes.co.uk (2017). Memory Loss (Amnesia). Available at:

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-complications/diabetes-and-memory-loss.html


(7) Chih-Wei, W et al. (2007). Treadmill exercise counteracts the suppressive effects of peripheral lipopolysaccharide on hippocampal neurogenesis and learning and memory’. Journal of Neurochemistry, September 2007 (online). 

Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2007.04987.x/full


(8) NHS Choices (2015). Benefits of Exercise.

Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/whybeactive.aspx


(9) Fogel, S et al. (2017). ‘Reactivation or Transformation? Motor Memory Consolidation Associated with Cerebral Activation Time-Locked to Sleep Spindles’. Plos One. April 2017 (online).                                       

Available at: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0174755


(10) Hirschkowitz, M et al. (2015). ‘National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Time Duration Recommendations; Methodology and Results Summary’. Sleep Health, Journal of the National Sleep Foundation. March 2015, Volume 1, Issue 1 (online). Available at:

http://www.sleephealthjournal.org/article/S2352-7218%2815%2900015-7/fulltext


(11) NHS Choices (2015). Memory Loss (Amnesia). Available at:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/memory-loss/#common-causes-of-memory-loss


(12) Heffernan, T et al. (2010). ‘Smoking and Everyday Prospective Memory: a Comparison of Self-Report and Objective Methodologies’. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Elsevier. (online). Available at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=20800391


(13) Topiwala, A et al. (2017) Moderate alcohol consumption as risk factor for adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline: longitudinal cohort study’. British Medical Journal 2017;357:j2353. (online). 

Available at: http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2353