Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Improve your memory!

Although future medical advancements will hopefully find a cure for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, most folks will be left to fend for themselves. So, to keep your mind and memory sharper than the rest, below is a short list of secret memory enhancers

Believe it or not, chewing gum can actually improve alertness and memory. At least that’s the conclusion that two medical studies reported in the journal Appetite back in 2002 and 2004, respectively. Although the exact reasoning behind why gum would enhance memory isn’t yet clear, one simple explanation said that chewing gum increases heart rate, which subsequently increases blood flow to the brain.

A slew of research over the past decade has confidently shown that exercise can be a secret memory enhancer. In fact, just cutting calories may help you remember where you left your keys. According to a 2008 study in the journal PNAS, eating a calorie-restricted diet had beneficial effects on memory performance in healthy elderly subjects. Even a simple exercise is a better secret memory enhancer than none at all. Better yet, it’s free.

As one of the most hotly contested food items, caffeine has strong backers on both sides of the health debate. Some swear by its benefits while others vilify caffeine for its unhealthy effects. However, almost no one can argue the effect of caffeine on alertness (and consequently memory). According to various studies conducted in the last five years, caffeine boosts short-term memory, protects older women against memory loss and may even reverse Alzheimer’s memory loss (at least in mice).

Daytime naps

Our next secret memory enhancer might actually contradict the last. After all, it’ll be hard to catch a little daytime shut-eye if you’re all hopped up on java beans. If you’re into daydreaming, you’ll be happy to know that science strongly supports the idea that daytime napping improves your declarative memory. That’s the memory you use to store facts (for example, the memory used when cramming for a final exam).

Rounding off our list of secret memory enhancers is alcohol, a substance that men are probably familiar with. Although this list is sounding more and more like justification for a bunch of bad habits, alcohol make that moderate levels of alcohol may actually enhance memory. Recent research has found that having a daily drink or two may improve memory and may even help prevent dementia. However, higher levels of alcohol may actually impair memories or may even reinforce negative ones!

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