Retrace your steps
This might not be the type of exercise that first comes to mind, but a recent study showed that actually walking backward helped participants better remember past events than walking forward or sitting still. And it wasn’t just the movement itself: participants who watched a video of objects moving backward, or even imagined moving backward, remembered better. The researchers dubbed this the “mnemonic time-travel effect,” and although they’re not sure yet how it works, it could have real-world applications for the next time you’re trying to remember something.
Eat a Mediterranean diet
A review of research confirmed that eating the Mediterranean way – with lots of fresh veggies, fruit, fish, and whole grains – is linked with better memory, both working and long-term. “The Mediterranean diet promotes a healthy heart and improved circulatory system – when circulation is enhanced, oxygen and nutrients are more easily able to reach the brain, which can help to enhance learning and memory,” Palinski-Wade says. “This style of eating has been found to be associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment.”
You could also try the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), a combo of Mediterranean and DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). MIND focuses specifically on foods shown to boost brain and memory health, including green leafy vegetables, berries, and nuts; while avoiding foods shown to lower cognitive function, such as red meat, butter, and sweets.
Cut down on alcohol
Studies have shown that drinking too much alcohol is linked with greater loss of memory. “Moderate alcohol consumption can have a short-term negative impact on memory – and chronic, heavy drinking can have a lasting effect on the brain as it can cause a loss of grey matter, and have a long-term impact on memory and cognitive function,” Palinski-Wade says. “Excessive alcohol use, even occasionally, can lead to ‘hangovers’ which include dehydration. Since even mild dehydration can have a negative impact on mental functioning, limiting alcohol consumption may help to prevent this.” To keep your brain sharp, don’t drink more than one glass a day for women and two for men.