Brain Fitness: Strategies to Improve Your Memory

You’re losing weight, exercising regularly, and definitely feeling better about yourself. Pritikin gave you the tools you needed to achieve these goals. Now you can tackle another challenge that concerns many of us: staying mentally sharp as we get older.

Recent research suggests that practicing mindfulness, that is, focusing on the present moment, can enhance memory. Those of you who attended my lecture on “Taking Charge of Stress” learned about the power of meditation to improve concentration, induce relaxation, and reduce pain.  Add better recall to this benefit list!

Twenty-six volunteers ages 60-72 were compared with volunteers ages 19-33 on a test of memory for visual images.  EEG (electroencephalography) testing was used to assess the speed of learning this new information and the ability to screen out irrelevant information.

The older group took more time to process this new information and was less able to ignore information unrelated to the task at hand.  These age-related changes can result in less efficient and reliable storage of new information.  Essentially, if you don’t “file it,” you can’t retrieve it!

Experts at Massachusetts General Hospital suggest these strategies, based on being mindful of the task at hand, to limit distractions and maximize memory:

  • Put the breaks on multi-tasking
  • Limit noise to increase focus
  • Let go of unrelated thoughts
  • When you set a goal, complete it without interruptions

There are many other ways to improve memory. Keep active, keep learning, and don’t forget the basics that contribute to “brain health”:  adequate sleep, a healthy low-fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seafood, and lean sources of meat; limited alcohol intake, stress reduction, and treatment for depression.

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