Natural Ways to Improve Memory

Thursday 25 March 2021
Memory loss

Table of Contents


I. How Sugar Impacts Cognitive Decline

II. Supplement Your Diet with Fish Oil

III. Meditation and Gray Matter

IV. Improving Physical Health

V. Inflammation and Memory

VI. Staying Mentally Active


Our memory plays a crucial role in who we are and our ability to carry out everyday tasks. It is common to forget little things from time to time, but life can be very difficult if your memory fails you frequently. Memory disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, can significantly reduce your quality of life and are often treated with Namenda (memantine) and Aricept (donepezil). Memory loss can be caused by genetics, but diet, exercise, and other lifestyle habits also play a major role. [1] 

How Sugar Impacts Cognitive Decline 

The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory. A diet high in sugar can damage the brain and impair hippocampal-dependant memory. This is because high levels of blood sugar (hyperglycemia) increases inflammation in the brain. [2]

a store shelf of popular soda beverages

In one study, those who drank more sugary soda beverages showed lower brain volumes and worse memory than those who drank less. Reducing your sugar intake and avoiding processed foods with added sugar can help improve your memory. [1]

Supplement Your Diet with Fish Oil

Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These substances are vital for brain health. They can relieve anxiety and slow mental decline by reducing inflammation. Studies show that taking fish oil supplements for 12 months can significantly improve short-term memory in those with mild cognitive impairment. [3] Talk to your doctor for ways to ensure enough omega-3 fatty acids and DHA in your diet.

Meditation and Gray Matter

In the brain, gray matter describes neuronal cell bodies, which are spherical structures that house the neuron’s nucleus. These structures are critical for processing memory, attention, and language. The greater volume of gray matter in the brain, the better it can perform its various functions. [4] There is evidence that meditation can improve memory by increasing gray matter in the brain. [5]

In one study, college students that meditated showed improved spatial working memory. Meditation can improve memory in people of all ages. [1] It is relaxing, stress-reducing, and has been found to lower blood pressure. There are no downsides to calming the mind and being mindful, but there are many different meditation techniques, so it may take some time to find the one that works best for you. 

Improving Physical Health 

The human body is intricately connected. Improving your overall health may improve brain function more than you think. There is solid evidence linking obesity to cognitive decline. In fact, obesity can alter genes that are associated with memory. Additionally, obesity can lead to insulin resistance and inflammation that damages the brain, so it is important to take steps to manage a healthy weight. [6]

a construction worker working a night shift

Cutting down on refined carbohydrates and sugar can help with weight management as well as reducing inflammation. Aerobic exercise can also help you achieve a healthy weight by improving blood flow and vascular health. Finally, you can improve your physical health by avoiding sleep deprivation. It is proven that those who work night shifts score 68 percent lower on memory tests than those who have a healthy sleep schedule. Getting enough sleep can have a positive effect on long-term memory. [7] Many people associate sleep with laziness and procrastination when sleep is actually a very productive activity.

Inflammation and Memory

Anti-inflammatory foods are great for the brain and can improve memory when eaten regularly. Antioxidants are an excellent anti-inflammatory because they can slow the oxidation process. Oxidation can damage the body’s cells, so preventing this damage is vital for brain health. [8] Foods that are high in antioxidant content include: 

  • Dark chocolate
  • Kale
  • Pecans
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Goji berries
  • Strawberries
  • Artichokes [9]

Staying Mentally Active

Exercising your muscles makes them stronger, and the same applies to your brain. A simple activity like working on a jigsaw puzzle can strengthen your brain and prevent visuospatial cognitive aging. [10] Card games like solitaire, crazy eights, bridge, and poker are great mentally stimulating activities as well. Research shows that card games can increase brain volume in several regions. [11]

a person shuffling a deck of cards

Learning a new skill or language can strengthen the connections in the brain. For example, improving your vocabulary can stimulate regions in the brain responsible for visual and auditory processing. Music is another good way to improve memory. Whatever your choice of activity, staying mentally active and stimulated can do wonders for your memory. [1]

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.