Looking after our brain health to help prevent memory loss has been a hot topic of recent years and is one of the key areas the department of health and NHS are looking to improve. The prevalence of dementia is on the increase, so it is important for us to introduce key routines within our daily lives to help minimize the risk of developing memory loss and memory related diseases like dementia. Here are 7 key steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing memory loss and help to improve your memory and brain health.
7 ways to prevent memory loss and improve memory
1. Physical exercise
Physical exercise is key to reducing memory loss and improving brain function, it also helps reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, helping your brain to get all the nutrients and oxygen it needs to function at its best. Exercise also increases the number of chemicals in your body that are associated with happiness, help to reduce stress/depression and make you feel great.
2. Mental exercise
As well as exercising your body you also need to exercise your brain to help prevent memory loss. It has been shown that if you don’t stimulate your brain it can lead to cognitive decline. It is important to try new tasks and not just stick to the brain teasers that you regularly do. Variation helps to keep your brain on it toes and helps to build new neuronal pathways within the brain. Try a sport that requires mental attention and strategy for example tennis or darts.
3. Sleep optimization
Mental recovery is an essential part of reducing memory loss. Most of this mental recovery occurs when we sleep, it is therefore essential that we get enough good sleep. It varies from person to person, but the guideline is to aim for 8 hours sleep per night. Not getting enough sleep can increase the stress put on the cells in our body causing damage, this can lead to memory loss and poor mental function. Ways to improve sleep include writing lists of things on your mind before bed, so that you have a clear mind. Don’t drink caffeinated drinks before bed, the last cup should be at around 4pm. Get into a routine, go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Avoid using your phone in bed/before you sleep, this can lead to your brain ramping up before bed rather than ramping down.
4. Keep organised
Keeping organised helps to keep your mind de-cluttered and is a great addition to help your mind work at its best. Making to-do lists also helps get things done that are on your mind, which ultimately reduces stress and it always feels great when you start to cross some of those burdens off the list.
5. Eat healthy
A Mediterranean diet high in antioxidants is key to helping to prevent memory loss and cognitive decline. Antioxidants help prevent cell damage within the brain and body, reducing the chance of memory loss. Avoid a diet high in processed meats and dairy which can have a negative impact on brain health and increase the risk of dementia and memory loss.
There have been studies that have shown that those that live within a community show less symptoms of memory loss, live longer and have a better quality of life compared to those that live on their own. It is important that if you find that you are isolated that you go and find clubs within the local area where you can socialise and meet new people. Not only can this help with memory loss it can also reduce anxiety and depression.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get all the nutrients from diet alone, especially if you lead a hectic lifestyle and, in this case, supplementation can be an important addition to your diet. It is important that if you eat a vegan diet you seek advice from a nutritionist about what supplements you should add to your diet, it is particularly difficult to get vitamin B12 and DHA through a vegan diet alone, and these are essential for brain health and function.
These are 7 positive changes you can introduce into your life to help prevent memory loss in the present and future. If you are worried about memory loss it is important to discuss your concerns with your local GP or healthcare professional.