Everyone has moments of forgetfulness from time to time, especially when life gets busy.
While this can be a completely normal occurrence, having a poor memory can be frustrating.
Genetics play a role in memory loss, especially in serious neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. However, research has shown that diet and lifestyle have a major impact on memory too.
Here are 4 evidence-based ways to improve your memory naturally.
1. Eat less added sugar
Eating too much added sugar has been linked to many health issues and chronic diseases, including cognitive decline.
For example, one study of more than 4,000 people found that those with a higher intake of sugary beverages like soda had lower total brain volumes and poorer memories on average compared with people who consumed less sugar (2Trusted Source).
Cutting back on sugar not only helps your memory but also improves your overall health.
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2. Try a fish oil supplement
Fish oil is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
These fats are important for overall health and have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, relieve stress and anxiety, and slow mental decline (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Many studies have shown that consuming fish and fish oil supplements may improve memory, especially in older people.
A 2015 review of 28 studies showed that when adults with mild symptoms of memory loss took supplements rich in DHA and EPA, like fish oil, they experienced improved episodic memory (6Trusted Source).
Both DHA and EPA are vital to the health and functioning of the brain and also help reduce inflammation in the body, which has been linked to cognitive decline (7Trusted Source).
3. Maintain a moderate weight
Maintaining a moderate body weight is essential for well-being and is one of the best ways to keep your body and mind in top condition.
Several studies have established obesity as a risk factor for cognitive decline.
Having obesity can actually cause changes to memory-associated genes in the brain, negatively affecting memory (13Trusted Source).
Obesity can also lead to insulin resistance and inflammation, both of which can negatively impact the brain (14Trusted Source).
A study of 50 people between ages 18 and 35 years found that a higher body mass index was associated with significantly worse performance on memory tests (15Trusted Source).
Obesity is also associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive disease that destroys memory and cognitive function (16Trusted Source).
4. Get enough sleep
Lack of proper sleep has been associated with poor memory for quite some time.
Sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation, a process in which short-term memories are strengthened and transformed into long-lasting memories.
Research shows that if you’re sleep deprived, you could be negatively impacting your memory.
For example, one study looked at the effects of sleep in 40 children between ages 10 and 14 years.
One group of children was trained for memory tests in the evening, then tested the following morning after a night’s sleep. The other group was trained and tested on the same day, with no sleep between training and testing.
The group that slept between training and testing performed 20% better on the memory tests (17Trusted Source).
Another study found that nurses working the night shift made more mathematical errors and that 68% of them scored lower on memory tests compared with nurses working the day shift (17Trusted Source).
Health experts recommend adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health (18Trusted Source).