Everyone experiences memory lapses from time to time but are ignored because, like mentioned, they happen to almost everybody at any given time.
Different changes occur in the body and mind as we grow older. For some people these changes happen sooner or later than they expect.
Although memory loss is a natural part of aging, serious age-related memory problems can be delayed through proper diet, physical exercise and avoiding bad habits.
But if simple memory loss has a negative effect on everyday life and is caused by age, stress or fatigue; they could be symptoms of a serious degenerative diseases.
3 Kinds of Memory
Memory is what allows us to record information from diverse and varied experiences and events and reuse or access them.
Generally, it is agreed that there are 3 kinds of memory:
- Immediate memory – this relates to recent events and lasts for a few seconds. For example, this memory remembers a telephone number while writing it down then forget it later.
- Short-term memory – this working memory allows us to remember events for a few seconds to minutes. It temporarily stores information and allows us to remember several pieces of information at the same time. For example, doing mental calculations.
- Long-term memory – stores memories for long time and has unlimited capacity. This memory is divided into 2 categories:
- Implicit memory: unconscious knowledge or learning; allows to learn without having the memory of learning it. For example, walking, talking, or riding a bike.
- Explicit memory: this concerns all personal memories accessible to our conscience and we keep all our life. Family memories, school and professional knowledge.
Causes of Memory Problems
Several factors cause memory problems, except when they are related to factors such as stress and fatigue can accompany certain diseases.
The memory problems can be due to:
- Medications. Many drugs cause temporary memory loss like sleeping pills and anxiolytics. This is especially true among the elderly.
- Psychological causes such as stress, anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep disturb memory functions.
- Brain diseases such as encephalitis, tumors or degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease are accompanied by memory problems.
- Vascular problems such as cerebrovascular disease due to small hemorrhages that damage the brain cause memory problems. Particularly, in the elderly who suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes or plaque atheroma.
- Eating disorders. Nutrition is very important for the memory, vitamin deficiencies, alcoholism are factors of memory loss.
- Traumatic causes such as accidents with head trauma can cause memory disorders.
- Environmental causes. Toxic causes, for example, carbon monoxide poisoning contribute to memory loss.
Tips to Maintain and Boost Memory Daily
It is necessary to stimulate the memory to remain in control of your life. This can be achieved with brain training activities, adequate sleep, proper diet and regular exercise.
Proper Brain Diet
The brain contains 10% lipids. For instance, a 1.4 kg brain has 140 g of lipids.
Lipids are unsaturated and are involved in the quality of neuro-transmission of nerve impulses.
For connections to work perfectly, eat good fats found in olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids to strengthens the structure of neurons.
Although avoid saturated fatty acids which promote the formation of blood cholesterol.
Instead eat fatty fish, linseed oil, rapeseed or oat bran.
- A tablespoon of rapeseed oil a day
- Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, 2 to 3 times a week
- Sauces, fries, chips and other fatty products that will make you sleepy after eating. These are not conducive for concentration throughout the day.
The B vitamins (B1, B6, B9, B12) play an essential role in memorization. This is due to the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter vital for learning functions.
They allow the brain to convert the proteins, lipids and glucose into energy.
Vitamin B complex sources are whole grains, meat, sunflower seeds, avocado, bananas, almonds, legumes, spinach, broccoli, eggs and dairy products.
The brain contains 10% protein.
It’s a lot when we realize that every day our body needs 80 to 100 g of protein.
Moreover, people who are malnourished and have protein deficiency suffer from physical and mental fatigue.
They can’t focus and activate their memory.
Simply cover your daily protein requirement with fish, egg and dairy products, bread, and cereals.
Iron carries oxygen through the red blood cells to the brain which is essential for intellectual performance.
A diet rich in red meat and green vegetables like watercress, spinach or lettuce is a good source of iron.
Caffeine from coffee and tea is a natural stimulant. It improves alertness and attention in the short term.
But when taken alone in the morning without breakfast, would have no effect on concentration throughout the day.
Also, too much coffee can lead to sleep disturbances and disrupt the process of memorization.
Let’s not forget that the brain contains 80% water.
Studies have found the impact of dehydration in brain function.
After 10 hours of insufficient hydration, volunteers said they are tired, and their concentration and memorization abilities decreased in the short term.
This kind situation is frequent among busy people. Despite feeling thirsty, many people ignore it and don’t drink at all.
Drink regularly throughout the day at least 1.5 liters of water.
7Other vitamins for the brain
Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants that protect the brain from free radicals that constantly circulate in the body especially during stressful situations.
Sources of these vitamins are:
- A is found in carrots, tomatoes and very green vegetables, butter and egg yolk;
- E can be taken from all oils;
- C is from cabbages, peppers, black radish, citrus fruits, and berries.
Pay attention to the distribution of energy intake throughout the day.
This is because low calorie meals lead to less drowsiness than high-fat and high-carb meals.
To balance, eat a snack in the morning and afternoon to divide the contributions in the day.
Exercising daily provides the brain with adequate oxygen and improves cognitive functions.
In addition, the development of cardiovascular capacity due to sports improves memory.
For example, during exam period, plan 30 to 60 minutes of personal time every day to get moving.
This relaxes the mind, improves oxygenation of organs, including the brain.
Avoid sitting for more than an hour. Take breaks for 15 to 20 minutes and stretch your legs to get your circulation moving.
The processing of new information learned during the day takes place when we are at sleep.
During this phase the consolidation of memory occurs to develop new competences and retain information.
A short nap of less than 30 minutes would cover 1 to 2 hours of sleep a night.
Memory and stress are often linked. Stress causes the brain to avoid using blood sugar which is essential in creating memory.
Manage stress by doing physical activities, engaging in relaxation techniques like meditation, avoid alcohol and nicotine, get in touch with family and friends.
Monitor blood pressure levels
We know that uncontrolled high blood pressure destroys neural circuits that fight against cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes and high cholesterol.
Reduce the risk of damage connections between neurons by monitoring your blood pressure and take the necessary precautions.
- Ginkgo Biloba has proven efficacy in memory disorders. It improves the learning abilities and the functioning memory.
- Sage is a small Mediterranean plant with pink blue flowers used for stimulating memory.
- Ginseng is considered a stimulant of memory and concentration.
Aromatherapy for memory
Essential oils boost memory because they are easily absorbed, and are quickly assimilated by the brain.
They have an anti-“pollutant” action to the brain and can restore mental stability and improve memory.
However, most essential oils are for adults only and are not recommended for pregnant or lactating women.
ALWAYS seek the advice of your pharmacist for the use and dosage of these oils.
- Peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils improve concentration and other cognitive abilities.
- Vetiver essential oil has an anti-stress effect. It promotes stability and mental clarity. It also improves the learning abilities of children with mild learning disabilities.
- Lemon, lavender, rosemary, Rhodiola rosea, and ginger essential oils have stress-reducing effects. They stimulate alertness and boost concentration and memory.
When to Get Diagnosed
If memory disorders happen frequently and affect daily tasks, if it’s sudden and associated with other neurological symptoms such as:
- language disorders
- visual disturbances
- balance disturbances
- limb numbness or paralysis
- violent and sudden headaches
- disorders of consciousness
Then, urgent medical consultation is required.
However, if the memory problems are spaced in time and are not accompanied by any other symptoms, it’s not necessary to see the doctor because the frequency of disorders increase with age and that’s all quite normal.