At times, our memory might become a little fuzzy. Between all of the things we need to worry about on a daily basis, it’s likely that our minds might become cluttered with excess information and encounter obstacles with retaining all of the knowledge. So it’s important to avoid triggers that can drain memory and to stay energized and alert each day.
As a certified health coach, I work with people on boosting brain health and memory and performing healthy habits that can promote mental health and sustainable energy levels long-term.
With age, especially, memory can start to dwindle, and so it’s important to beat those aging effects and do activities and exercises that will support memory retention. For instance, I always recommend doing word puzzles that make your mind work and that usually involve memorization of some sort. Also, eating a diet rich in fish oils, antioxidants, choline and other healthy fats will boost brain power. Even herbs and spices can have some effect, such as rosemary.
Apart from supporting brain health, you should also look for these eleven triggers that can be negatively affecting your mental awareness. By using preventative measures, you’ll be better able to combat the woes of poor memory and increase your longevity and overall health and wellbeing.
1. You’re Not Eating Enough Carbohydrates
While I don’t encourage eating refined, processed carbohydrates too often, as these are void of most nutrients, I do recommend eating complex carbohydrates with natural sugar, glucose. These can come from whole grain bread and fresh fruit, for instance. “Your brain needs glucose, which comes from carbohydrates, to function properly; without it you may find it hard to concentrate,” says dietican Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, a spokesperson for America’s Better Sandwich over email with Bustle.
2. You’re Taking On Too Many Things
Multitasking is great for efficiency purposes, and if done properly, it can be a great lifesaver. However, sometimes we are simply too overwhelmed to cover it all. If you are taking on too many items on your checklist, you might experiences obstacles with trying to remember all the little facts and details required for each task. Prioritize those that deserve immediate care, and be mindful of when to limit what you are doing.
3. You’re Consuming Too Much Sugar
While your body needs a good source of natural sugar, eating excess sugar can backfire. Unless you are able to find a balance that’s appropriate, too much sugar can cause your blood sugar to spike and your brain to go into over-drive and then crash a few hours later. Sugar can also mess with your brain’s health and memory span over time, so be mindful to avoid processed and unnatural sweeteners and to enjoy natural ones in moderation.
4. You’re Not Eating Healthy Fats
If you avoid healthy fats in the diet, you could be putting your brain and memory health at a disadvantage, advises certified holistic health coach and personal trainer Jen Bruno with J.B. Fitness and Nutrition, over email correspondence with Bustle. Fats can boost memory retention, especially fish oils. Take a fish oil supplement and eat fish two or three times a week. Bruno recommends eating omega-3 fats, too, such as walnuts, salmon and sardines. Omega 3’s can also protect again sugar’s poor effects on the brain.
5. You’re Isolating Yourself Too Often
If work and other commitments have taken over your life and have left you deficient in social plans, it could be hurting your memory and brain health. Being alone can make us sad, and that emotion can carry over into our brains and their ability to function properly. Bruno recommends to “socialize and interact more, find a meet up group or volunteer.” Keep yourself busy and stimulated with other people.
6. You’re Disorganized
If your desk is disorganized at work or your home has belongings all over, you might experience mental fog and lack of memory retention, as well as more spontaneity thinking. While a little mess might be beneficial for creative projects, for everyday memory retention and concentration, orderly is the way to go. So, file some paper and get rid of any clutter to start thinking more clearly.
7. Your Thyroid Is Acting Up
If you have a thyroid condition, you might notice a change in memory retention. A whacky thyroid can cause us to become lethargy and foggy, if we are underproducing thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism), or unable to concentrate and resist distractions, if we are overproducing the hormone (hyperthyroidism). Check with your physician to see if your thyroid is to blame.
8. You’re Not Challenging Yourself Mentally
Bruno advises keeping your mind busy with mentally stimulating exercises, such as “reading, taking classes, doing puzzles, and learning a language.” If you don’t exercise the brain, it will not stay as sharp and memory might decline faster with age. Plus, research has shown that staying active mentally can lower symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
9. You’re Consuming MSG
MSG, or rather Monosodium Glutamate, can drain our memory over time, and is unfortunately found in many food items that we tend to eat on a regular basis. MSG is especially prevalent in restaurant dining and standard takeout, predominately Chinese food. As an excitotoxin, it can interfere with nerve synaptic response in the brain. This can increase risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as other brain conditions.
10. You’re Not Sleeping Enough
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body and mind will definitely become tired over time. Such chronic deficiency will promote inflammation in the brain, which will contribute to brain fog, lack of memory, decreased performance and cognitive functioning, and reduction in mental alertness and stamina. Make sure to get between seven and eight hours of sleep nightly for best results.
11. You’re Walking Into A Different Room
As weird as it might seem, closing one door to open another might hold true for thought processing and memory retention, as well. Researchers claim that the act of going into a different room and opening a new door can create a lapse in memory and judgment, as though you are entering a separate realm of thought. Be mindful of when you need to hold onto important information.
While eating well, getting in some exercise, staying hydrated, and challenging yourself mentally can all help you keep your memory sharp and attention span up to par, it’s also important to avoid these triggers that can be draining your memory, without you even knowing about it. Pay more attention to the little things for greater long-term benefits.
By Isadora Baum / Bustle