What is ‘Memory’?
What we know as our memory and how it works is a fascinating phenomenon that scientists have been studying for ages. Our ‘memory’ consists of three phases:
Acquisition (learning the new information), Consolidation (making it a stable part of our knowledge), and Retrieval (recalling the information).
So … what can we do to enhance all three of these phases to enjoy the benefits of a good, solid memory?
Here are our 5 top tips. They won’t just improve your memory – they can also support your whole brain and body function more efficiently.
1 Take Some Quiet Time-Out
Whether it’s meditation, planned restful relaxation, or a peaceful walk through nature – giving your brain a scheduled break from your regular busyness in order to nourish it with some passive mindfulness allows the brain to replenish and recoup for better ongoing working memory capacity and recall. Even just as little as 20 minutes, four times a week, can produce greater efficiency in working memory and long-term memory retrieval.
Why is this the case?
Your brain is a busy machine. If you are constantly thinking, planning, and concentrating, your brain uses up a lot of mental energy and this can take a toll on the brain’s ability to perform well – including memory.
If we allow some regular down-time, we access our ‘default mode network’ where our brains don’t have to process information as actively as they normally would, conserving energy and strengthening connectivity within the brain.
2 Reduce Sugary Drinks and Snacks
Sugary foods and drinks might give you a quick buzz and make you feel like they are helping you in the moment, but they actually deplete brain’s overall efficiency and play a role in memory loss.
Sugar impacts the same part of the brain as where our working memory happens – the hippocampus. Sugar lowers brain volume and the production of our all-important ‘brain-derived neurotrophic factor’ (BDNF), the substance that influences the ability to form new memories.
By reducing your overall sugar intake and being selective in the types of sugar you consume, you will help reduce neuroinflammation and stress to the brain. You may be pleasantly surprised to see your memory and recall improve in addition to many other health benefits. Small amounts of sugars like those found in whole fruits, whole natural sugars like honey, and quality wholegrains as part of a balanced diet are always preferable to soft drinks, fruit juices and processed snacks; choose wisely!
3 Put Plants On Your Plate
Plants contain beneficial compounds called ‘phytochemicals’ for brain health – in particular, the flavonoids are known for enhancing all aspects of memory.
Many regular fruits, vegetables, oils and culinary herbs that you may already be consuming will contain flavonoids, your highest sources include quality dark chocolate, berries (especially blueberries), grapes, cherries, apples, tomatoes, capsicum, citrus, leafy greens, parsley, olive oil, avocado and green tea. Including a range of these and other plant foods will help you get your memory-boosting compounds as well as taking care of the whole body.
(Friendly reminder: Plant foods can affect the way some medication works in the body, ask your health professional if this applies to you and your requirements.)
4 Get Some Good Quality Sleep … And Embrace The Siesta
Without adequate sleep, your brain finds it difficult to absorb, retain and recall new information. Sleep is essential for active consolidation and encoding of memory, because it’s during this time the brain takes information, processes and ‘makes sense’ of it, and integrates it to your pre-existing knowledge network.
From the hippocampus where short-term memories are formed, to the cortex where they are stored in a more substantial form, flow and activity between these regions requires a decent amount of quality shut-eye.
Basically, research suggests there are two main reasons why sleep is essential for memory retention: 1) A person who is sleep-deprived person does not have optimal focus and attention and therefore cannot learn efficiently; 2) Sleep itself is actually physically required for consolidation of memory.
Those who are persistently sleep deprived are more likely to have reduced blood flow within the brain, affecting many aspects of cognitive function, not just memory. Sleep plays a clean-up role that removes toxins within your brain that build up while you are awake. Sleep deprivation can cause beta amyloid deposits in the brain that are linked to memory-decline and increase the risk of dementia.
Naps are also great for both restoring lowered levels of alertness and for retaining what you have learned immediately prior to the nap – Anywhere from 6 minutes to one hour has been shown to be beneficial to information retention and consolidation.
The average of 7-8 hours is generally recommended – it’s best to get to know what your body personally requires, and what works for you.
5 Take High-Quality Natural Nootropics
Maximise your memory reboot by taking a natural nootropic – this is one of the fastest ways to repair your neurons and strengthen the connections in the brain to improve your memory and overall brain health and functionality in a few short weeks.
There are many on the market, but they need to be balanced, pure, contain quality active ingredients that are supported by science so you know you are getting a premium product that is going to help you achieve your brain health goals. To read more about our flagship nootropic, see our page on the Science Behind E2B – Vital Mind.
- Fadel Zeidan et al. Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of briefmental training. J Consciousness and Cognition; 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20363650
- Carlo Sestieri et al. Episodic Memory Retrieval, Parietal Cortex, and the Default Mode Network: Functional and Topographic Analyses. J Neuroscience; 2011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3098040/
- Matthew P. Pase et al. Sugary beverage intake and preclinical Alzheimer’s disease in the community. J Alzheimer’s and Dementia; 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6820519/
- Molteni R et al. A high-fat, refined sugar diet reduces hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neuronal plasticity, and learning. J Neuroscience; 2002. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12088740
- Jeremy P. E. Spencer. Flavonoids and brain health: multiple effects underpinned by common mechanisms. Genes and Nutrition; 2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2775888/
- Björn Rasch et al. About sleep’s role in memory. J Physiological Reviews; 2011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768102/
- Andy R. Eugene et al. The neuroprotective aspects of sleep. MEDtube Science; 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651462/
- Cousins, James N et al. The long-term memory benefits of a daytime nap compared with cramming. J Sleep; 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6335868/
- Noor Azuin Suliman et al. Establishing Natural Nootropics: Recent Molecular Enhancement Influenced by Natural Nootropic. J Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine; 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5021479/