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6 practical ways to enhance memory power

Updated on January 10, 2013

A simple guide on how to improve one’s memory

The brain is a very powerful organ which defines our existence. It is the only organ in the body that has the power to investigate itself and it is the seat of human intelligence. One of the main function of the brain, aside from managing and controlling voluntary and involuntary movements and the basic functions of the body that is necessary for its survival is receiving, interpreting and formation of memories.

The formation of memories is an important part in one’s life as it will help in the survival of an individual. Remembering and reminiscing past experiences and the retention of new information is what defines us. However, there are many today who are having problems in memory formation. These are some of the methods to enhance the body’s memory power and to avoid its deterioration.

1. Avoid excessive intake of Alcohol

There are many health hazards connected with the over indulgence in alcohol and one of these is memory loss. Binge blackouts are one of the main results of excessive alcohol drinking. This is a vivid example of memory loss directly induced by alcohol. However, what is the link between alcohol and memory loss?

Prolonged abuse of alcohol will result in the permanent destruction of brain cells. After ingestion of liquor, the alcohol content will immediately cause havoc in brain tissues. The damage alcohol incurs in the body can result into two types of temporary memory loss, brownouts and blackouts.

Brownout is a short term memory loss which occurs after heavy drinking. This is characterized by a “fuzzy” reminiscence of events that occurred during the period of intoxication. However, memory of the said events can be remembered by individuals once reminded of. Blackouts on the other hand are a complete loss of memory on the events that transpired during the time of intoxication. No recollection of events can be restored even with the constant reminding of people present during his or her intoxication. Blackouts are a more serious effect of excessive drinking of alcohol, which if occurs consistently can result in permanent brain damage and amnesia.

The brain dysfunction linked directly to alcohol abuse is the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This is characterized with excessive brain damage in the cellular level. This is caused by the lowering levels of thiamin, which is a direct consequence of excessive alcohol intake. The said syndrome is a combination of two sicknesses which are directly caused by alcohol abuse.

The Wernicke’s disorder is the destruction of the central nervous system and its peripherals. While the Korsakoff syndrome is the apparent difficulty in memory formation due to excessive destruction of brain cells due to alcohol abuse. The main symptoms of this syndrome are the compulsion of sufferers to provide fabricated stories of memory of a said event, just to cover his or her loss of memory of the said event. Extreme alcoholics are prone to both illnesses.

It is important to know that alcohol abuse can change the brain chemistry of an individual causing damage. It reduces the ability of the brain to cope with complex problems and handle situations that needs concentration and focus. This is why intoxicated people function poorly and are commonly disoriented and confused. If left untreated, alcoholism can result in total memory loss due to brain damage.

However, there are instances where drinking some kinds of drinks can result in increased memory capabilities. Red wine is one of the most common forms of liquor which is used as a memory enhancer due to Resveratrol present in the drink.

Resveratrol is a compound found on the skin of grapes, especially red grapes. This compound can help in the function of the brain and the reduction of the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease. However, due to the alcoholic content still present in red wine, the effects of Resveratrol are hampered considerably. In a recent study, the ingestion of grape juice can increase the functionality of the brain and can reduce the onset of debilitating memory loss conditions such as amnesia, Alzheimer’s disease and other of the same nature.

2. Never get depressed, live life

One of the major causes of memory loss is stress, which in turn will cause a more serious type of mental fatigue called depression. This debilitating mental and emotional condition can drastically destroy the ability of the body to function well. Depression is forms of mental sickness where all hopes of life have vanished and a sense of desperation and anxiety envelops the person. This depressive mental state has a direct effect on the memory formation process of the brain.

According to research, depressions leads to an increase of a chemical called Cortisol in the body, mainly in the bloodstream. Medical experts have found that people who have undergone bouts with depression suffered a great increase of Cortisol which degrades the part of the brain called Hippocampus, which some scientist believe to be one of the main places where new memory is being sorted and absorbed. Depression damages not only the emotional state of an individual, but also the biological functions of the body.

It is best to consider consulting a psychiatrist, religious leader or family and friends, if under depressing moods. The emotional state of a person directly affects brain functions, which is why it is important to be in a “happy” or “contented” mood most of the time. It relaxes the brain and helps you cherish and remember important things to you better. It has also been observed that people in depression tend to have a hard time remembering positive events in one’s life and easily remembers negative memories. This shows how a negative mental and emotional state can affect the memory formation of an individual.

Many psychiatrists will advice people to have scheduled vacations or hobbies to release the mounting stress due to the rigors of daily activities and its redundancy. Though there are medications that are intended to “cure” or treat depression, it is always better to prevent this from happening by just being happy with your life. So in order to really improve your memory power, make sure that you live happily and contented.

3. Do regular exercise

Obesity is one of the main factors that cause memory loss. Alzheimer’s disease, which is a chronic and debilitating disease which is characterized by a serious case of memory loss, has been linked to obesity according to research on the said disease. For this reason, losing weight can be an essential factor in the preservation of the natural ability of the brain to retain memories. Because of this, medical experts advices people to consider doing exercise regularly in order to reduce weight and in the end and prevent the onset of illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Doing regular exercise can effectively prevent, not only brain disorders but also other diseases which can trigger memory loss such as strokes. Exercise can help the brain because it helps efficient blood circulation providing adequate amounts of oxygen to reach the brain. This organ is a sensitive organ which depends heavily on adequate levels of oxygen to allow proper function. Any reduction of oxygen levels in the brain can cause damage and even death.

Medical research confirms the importance of physical activity such as exercise to the proper cognitive functions of the brain. A short 20 minute jog or a short brisk walk everyday can provide you the necessary exercise needed to make sure proper blood circulation. Ensuring your exercise regimen will also make sure the proper functioning of the brain and its memory formation.

4. Use Mnemonic strategies

Mnemonics are methods, strategies and techniques that help improve cognitive responses and memory formation. A lot of researches have been made on the precise methods on exercising the brain’s ability to memorize and the result is a systematic strategy to help people remember things that are normally difficult to do so.

Our brains are designed to receive, interpret and retain complex information and stimuli as mental images. This collection of mental images of our surroundings is what constitutes our memory and this is what we recall and reminisce. The problem is that our brain sometimes has problems in absorbing loads of information quickly, especially when receiving bulk information. The technique is how to efficiently absorb information without flooding your brain with stimuli and the answer is through mnemonics.

The use of such techniques is important to efficiently use the brain and its functions. It has been a scientific fact that the brain has an enormous potential of information storage which is not fully used by people because they do not know how. Mnemonics give them the chance to tap this unharnessed power of the brain and through this one can train the brain to be sharper and as a consequence, reduce the chance of deterioration and damage.

As an observation, the brain can process simple information easier compared to complex ones. This is the reason why people tend to remember or understand pictures and images than written information or instructions. Mnemonics tries to simplify complex information through the use of three main steps, imagination, association and location. These three are the fundamental principles that make mnemonics possible and effective.

Imagination is the use of images and mental pictures to help you remember things. An example is using a visual situation to help you remember past events. Reminiscing the past and imagining what happened in previous events is one of the most used methods in mnemonics. Recalling the past through imagination can help the brain exercise in memory formation. Association is the use of simpler information to help you remember more complex data. One of the best examples of association is the use of acronyms, while location uses a specific place or event to remind you.

These are some of the methods used in Mnemonics that will help a person improve their memory and avoid memory loss.

Using visual images

An example is visualizing a word in order to remember it effectively. If you want to remember a name you can visualize the word, Rose Houston (you can picture a rose beside the map of Houston, Texas),

Acrostic method

Using the acrostic method means making up a sentence where the first letter of each word in that sentence is the thing you need to remember. An example is remembering the notes in a musical staff. Every good boy does fine (e,g,b,d,f) or remembering all the conjunctions in the English language For, And, Nor, But, Of, Yet, So (f.a.n.b.o.y.s.).

Using acronyms

Acronym is a technique where the initials of the full name or sentence to be remembered are retained to create a simple word. Like the colors of the rainbow r.o.y.g.b.i.v. (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet), it is much easier to remember the acronym than individually memorizing each color and their successive order.

These are some of the mnemonic techniques which are being used by many people today to help them memorize and retain information. Through the use of the mnemonic exercises, one can make sure that the brain remains sharp and thus reduce the risk of memory loss.

5. Using Alternative medicine and supplements

Alternative medicines and supplements can also be used to help people improve their memory. There are a number of supplements that are available in the market today that can help a person improve their memory.

The Bacopa extract

It is an extract of the water hyssop which has been used in traditional alternative medicine. This is a natural memory enhancer which can effectively increase the cognitive and retention functions of the brain. There are many scientific studies that have been done to confirm the effects of the Bacopa extract in helping people improve their memory.

Gingko Biloba

This tree is one of the most famous medical herbs which has been used for medical purposes since ancient times. Traditional alternative medicine practitioners regularly use the extracts from the Gingko tree for many ailments including memory loss. The enzymes present in the Gingko tree improves the blood circulation in the body allowing for efficient flow of oxygen to major organs of the body especially the brain, which relies heavily on the adequate supply of oxygen. The brain is extremely dependent on oxygen that a few minutes of deprivation will result in permanent damage which can cause serious disabilities or even death. The efficient flow of oxygen to the brain will prevent its deterioration and thus prevent the risk of degenerative diseases such as the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease.

Co-enzyme Q10

This powerful antioxidant is a natural alternative medicine for a number of health conditions among them is memory loss. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most debilitating illnesses affecting the cognitive functions of the brain. According to studies made on the cognitive functions of the brain, the deficiency of co-enzyme Q10 can also be linked to memory loss and even to Alzheimer’s disease which is a degenerative disease initiated by the presence of free radicals which destroys neurons. Antioxidants like Co-enzyme Q10 can help eradicate free radicals present in the brain. Through the use of such supplements, one can really improve memory formation in the brain.

Vitamin B12

Alternative medicine experts recommend the use of Vitamin B12 to improve the cognitive functions of the brain. Memory formation is totally dependent on the health of the brain and its functions. Vitamin B12 has been observed to play a vital role on the correct and proper function of the brain. There are many published studies that confirm the effectiveness of Vitamin B12 in enhancing the memory power of an individual.

The result shows that people with Vitamin B12 deficiency tend to have lower brain volumes which can be a serious factor for the memory forming performance of the brain. According to further studies, lower brain volumes can be a sign of mental deterioration, which will also result in lower retentive functions and cognition. Alzheimer’s disease is also a degenerative disease which destroys cells and in a ways reduces the brain’s overall volume. The intake of Vitamin B12 can also help reduce the buildup of homocysteine, which is a chemical compound that causes volume loss in the brain. This promulgation of this chemical is effectively reduced by ensuring the maintenance of adequate levels of Vitamin B12.

6. Other simple methods to prevent memory loss

Effective use of sleep

Sleeping on a problem can scientifically true. Many studies have been made to confirm the productivity of sleep in enhancing a person’s memory. Sleep deprivation reduces the capacity of the brain to work productively. This is the reason why it is important to have a good night’s sleep every time. There are many benefits one can get from getting adequate amounts of sleep every day. It has been studied that during the deepest stages of sleep, memory formation and cognition enhancing activities in the brain is at its height.

Socializing and having fun

Enhancing one’s memory doesn’t always mean doing serious and hard activities. Evidences shows that the amount of “fun” activities you have in one’s life can help preserve the memory formation of the brain. This is much evident in social activities where one communicates with people in a leisurely manner. The effect of social fun can be very effective in maintaining the efficiency in brain functions.

Getting involved in strong relationships is deeper form of socialization which can also provide memory-enhancing results. This is very important in human society as humanity is instinctively social creatures. A powerful and strong bond forge through relationships between individuals can enhance the cognitive response and in the end lessen the risk of brain deterioration through inactivity or diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Research by the Harvard school of Public heath stated that people that are highly social or heavily involved in a strong relationship with more than one person has the slowest rate of brain deterioration and memory decline. This is very important information as it supports the idea that human beings are efficient if connected to each other than being solitary. Communities and societies are an integral part, not only on the development of culture, but also the maintenance of the health of each individual in a society.

Laughter is indeed the best medicine

There are many emotional responses a person can do, but only laughter affects the most regions in the brain. Laughter engages whole regions in the brain making it one of the most intensive activities the brain can do. The feeling of happiness, joy and laughter can engage the brain in a level similar to studying and other more serious activity that involves the brain.

As other activities input data to the brain, laughter on the other hand, ensures the brain to be effective in processing the data. This will result in better memories and cognitive performance. Actually, making jokes and creating punch lines is an intensive activity that if one can continually create successful jokes has actively engaged his or her brain.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

In the end, ensuring a healthy lifestyle is the ultimate method to prevent the onset of memory loss. People who are free from vices and are living a healthy life is ensured to have a better chance to maintain a healthy memory well into old age. According to statistics, Japan has the most number of centenarians today. Scientists attribute the longevity of the Japanese people to their diet and their preference to natural and herbal medicine. Having a good and healthy lifestyle should be the main goal of every person that wants to maintain their good health and in the process retain their memory power.

Conclusion

These are the main methods that can enhance the power of a person’s memory and in turn prevent memory loss and other debilitating diseases that deteriorate the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease. Mental health is one of the most important functions of the body and through the proper management of one’s lifestyle; one can effectively live a full life filled with wonderful memories which you can fondly reminisce each and every time.

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    • progressivehealth profile image
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      progressivehealth 4 years ago from Boise, Id

      Thanks for the vote :)

    • progressivehealth profile image
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      progressivehealth 4 years ago from Boise, Id

      Thank you!

    • Crissylite profile image

      Crissylite 4 years ago

      Thank you for this information. I'm going to keep this article as well. Great article!...voted up.

    • LupitaRonquillo profile image

      LupitaRonquillo 4 years ago

      You covered it all! You devised a great resource of information, printing this one out.