Memory loss is a common side effect of aging.
Most of us know that we’re supposed to stay mentally active, do crossword puzzles, and stay social to avoid age-related dementia.
But did you know there are a bunch of things you’re probably doing to make your memory worse?
In this article, learn six things to avoid if you want to keep your memory sharp.
Whether you’re smoking cigarettes or something a little more illicit, you’re not doing your memory any favors. When you smoke, you deprive your brain of much-needed oxygen, which can lead to overall fuzziness and decreased mental acuity. Face memory is apparently a particular sore spot for smokers – studies have indicated that in comparison to non-smokers, individuals who smoke are more likely to have a hard time matching names and faces.
2. B Vitamin Deficiency
A healthy diet full of nutrients, good fats, and high-quality protein is important to preserving your memory, but you’re especially likely to have memory issues if you’re not getting enough Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B12. B1 (thiamine) is easily found in whole grains and vegetables. B12 is not found in plant sources (which makes supplementation very important for vegans), but is prevalent in many meat and dairy sources, especially liver. B vitamin deficiency is common in heavy drinkers, since alcohol interferes with the vitamin’s absorption.
3. Trans Fat, High Simple Carb Diet
In a small 2012 study, researchers found that individuals who ate a diet high in trans fats and simple carbohydrates had far more memory problems than individuals who ate a healthier diet of whole grains and good fats. This effect is likely due to arterial plaque buildup in the brain, which decreases blood flow and oxygen delivery to the parts of your brain that handle memory recall.
Dehydration is a major cause of decreased mental acuity and associated memory loss, especially as you age. Luckily, there’s a pretty simple fix for dehydration, as long as it’s not severe: drink more water. Researchers continue to argue about what, exactly, is the right amount of water to drink, and what drinks count towards your hydration, but the current consensus seems to be something like 6-8 glasses of liquid, preferably calorie-free water, per day for anyone at any age.
We’ve covered the detrimental aspects of insomnia and sleep deprivation before, and memory problems are definitely on the list of things you can avoid by getting a healthy amount of sleep. The concentration and focus issues that arise from too little sleep don’t help, either. This is another area where the experts aren’t totally sure what the optimal amount is, so experiment to see how much sleep leaves you feeling clear-headed and sharp.
6. Trying to Do Too Much
You’re a busy person with a to-do list a mile long, and that work/family/social life juggling act can take its toll on your memory. While small instances of short-term stress can actually improve brain function, long-term stress, like the kind that settles in when you spend every day at work trying to keep track of fifteen different tasks at once, can cause various hormone levels to spike and prevent your brain from forming memories properly. Prolonged stress of this type may even cause permanent changes to your brain, so make sure to take a breather every once in a while.
What steps have you taken to protect your memory as you age? Do you take supplements?