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Medical Moment: Improving your memory

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 8:53 PM EST
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Do you lose your phone often? Misplace your keys? Forget where you parked?

About one in nine Americans over the age of 45 reports memory issues. Whether they’re mild or severe, these problems can be frustrating.

If you’re worried about memory loss, there’s good news. Research shows there are some ways to help!

First: stay away from sugar. A study from Boston University of about 4,000 people found those who consumed more sugar had lower total brain volumes and poorer memories on average.

Also, try meditation. It’s been shown to increase grey matter in the brain and improve short-term memory.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University are studying the effect of a patch that contains pure nicotine, and the results are encouraging.

“We found that patients improved,” says Paul Newhouse, director at the Vanderbilt Center for Cognitive Medicine. “In fact, there was a measurable and sustained improvement in memory and attention functioning.”

Scientists from the UK are also looking at a treatment called magnetic stimulation. In a recent study, it helped enhance the formation of new memories in healthy participants.

Vitamin D supplements might be another way to help memory. In one study, researchers found patients who had lower Vitamin D levels lost their memory and cognitive ability faster than those with normal levels.

And, if you want to preserve your memory, be sure to get checked out by a doctor.

“We like to say around here, don’t forget your memory, right?” Newhouse says. “So, if you have your blood pressure checked, if you have your cholesterol checked, have your memory checked as well.”

Exercise is also a memory booster. In a study of 144 people, a single bout of 15 minutes of moderate exercise led to improved cognitive performance—including memory across all age groups.

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