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Proven Ways to Improve Your Memory Fast

Five ways to be proactive about your brain health.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

When it comes to keeping your memory sharp, prevention is better than cure, doctors say. "Rather than waiting for memory changes to surface or worsen, I encourage you to be proactive," says Sandra Darling, DO, MPH. "Challenge your body and brain in new ways. Try some new activities. Sit quietly in meditation each day. Breathe deeply. Then go out and have some fun. Doctor's orders!" Here are five things proven to improve memory function, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Work on Focus and Concentration

Young frustrated woman working at office desk in front of laptop

Memory and concentration are closely connected, experts say. "For the majority of people, it's not a memory problem per se, but it's more of a concentration or organizational problem where they're not getting the information initially or they're not processing it correctly in the first place," says neuropsychologist Aaron Bonner-Jackson, Ph.D, with Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. "They say they have a memory problem when in fact trouble with concentration, focus or organization is the underlying issue."


Try the MIND Diet

mediterranean diet

The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) was developed by researchers who discovered that a diet that focused on leafy greens, fish, and berries can lower the risk of Alzheimer's by as much as 53%. "Fish eat phytoplankton which are rich in nutrients that reduce inflammation throughout your brain and body," says Roxanne B. Sukol, MD, MS. "You are what you eat, and you are what 'what-you-eat' eats. Eat the highest quality protein you can access, even if that means less animal protein overall. Small amounts of high-quality butter are okay on occasion. But I avoid margarine and products made with soybean, corn or cottonseed oils, all of which are all sky high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Watch the words: For example, fast food isn't food; it's fast. Junk food isn't food; it's junk. If you have to qualify it, it's usually not food."


Try Visualization Techniques

woman thinking

Visualization techniques can be very effective in improving memory function. "Visualization can be a really powerful tool, because the more ways you can process information, the more likely you are to remember it," says Dr. Bonner-Jackson. "You can go back in your mind later on and actually look through your memory for it. Through certain habits, you can improve your concentration. The thought is that if you can change the way you process information, that can have downstream benefits for your memory."

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Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

woman sleeping at night with eye mask

Lack of sleep can affect memory, doctors warn. "I call sleep deprivation, whether it's through sleep apnea or intentional sleep deprivation, a cognitive killer," says Marwan Sabbagh, M.D., director of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. "We know people with sleep deprivation have worse cognitive scores and that treating sleep can improve your brain function almost within days."

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Be Mindful Of Your Drinking

refusing alcohol

Did you know that heavy drinking can damage memory function? "Previous research has found that subtle changes which demonstrate damage to the brain can present in ways that are not immediately detectable on routine testing of intellectual function and can progress unchecked until they present with more noticeable changes in memory," says Tony Rao, a visiting clinical fellow in Old Age Psychiatry at King's College London. "Even at levels of low-risk drinking there is evidence that alcohol consumption plays a larger role in damage to the brain than previously thought."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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