Natural Ways to Improve Memory

Ginkgo tree or Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba), North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Christian Hutter / Getty Images

There are a number of everyday strategies that can improve your memory naturally—and protect against memory loss as you age. But while many products are marketed as all-natural memory aids, only a few natural remedies have been found to improve memory in scientific studies. To keep your mind sharp as you grow older, and possibly reduce your risk of aging-related conditions like Alzheimer's disease and dementia, stick to a health routine that pairs brain-boosting behaviors with natural approaches proven to improve memory.

Natural Ways to Improve Memory

So far, scientific support for the claim that any remedy can improve memory is limited. Here's a look at several natural substances:

1) Antioxidants

Following a diet high in antioxidants may help shield brain cells from aging-related damage. Since studies on the health effects of antioxidant supplements have yielded mixed results, many alternative medicine experts recommend upping your intake by including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet.

2) Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids (a type of healthy fat with inflammation-fighting effects) may help slow cognitive decline in older adults, according to a research review published in 2009. Widely available in supplement form, omega-3s are also found naturally in foods like fish, nuts, and flaxseed.

3) Herbs

Although there is a general lack of scientific support for the use of herbs in preserving brain health, some research suggests that pairing ginkgo biloba and ginseng may help enhance cognitive function and improve memory in middle-aged adults. However, in a research review published in 2007, investigators found "inconsistent and unconvincing" evidence of ginkgo's memory-boosting benefits for people with cognitive impairment or dementia.

More Ways to Improve Memory

Along with following a healthy diet, these practices are considered essential in preserving brain health and improving your memory:

  • getting regular exercise (especially cardiovascular exercise)
  • maintaining social connections
  • managing your stress (through mind-body techniques like yoga and deep breathing, for instance)
  • keeping your mind stimulated with challenging activities (such as doing a crossword puzzle or learning to play a musical instrument)

There's also emerging evidence that practicing meditation may help improve your memory. However, more research needs to be conducted before any conclusions about meditation's memory-improving effects can be drawn.

Using Natural Remedies to Improve Memory

Since memory loss may be linked to a number of health conditions, it's important to consult your physician if you have any health concerns. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Keep in mind that herbal supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label.

Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. If you're considering the use of alternative medicine, talk with your primary care provider first.

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