Protect Your Memory

It happens to all of us: You stop at the store and forget the one thing you went for. You blank on your co-worker’s husband’s name—Is it John? Jim? And where are those darn keys?!? It’s normal to be forgetful once in awhile, especially if you’ve got a lot on your plate.

But even if you’re years away from worrying about senior moments, research shows that memory loss can actually begin as early as your 20s, and it continues as you age. Thankfully, taking a few easy steps throughout your day can help you stay sharp—and maybe even help you remember where you put those keys!

Skipping carbs may harm your memory. A Tufts University study found that folks who eliminated carbohydrates from their diets performed worse on memory-based tasks than those who included them. Why? Your brain cells need carbs, which are converted in your body to glucose, to stay in peak form, says study co-author Robin Kanarek, PhD, professor of psychology at Tufts.

Pick whole grains and other complex carbs—they’re digested more slowly, so they deliver a steadier stream
of glucose. Grab a whole-wheat muffin or slice of toast with a scrambled egg and cup of berries for a breakfast that’ll jump-start your gray matter.

Exercise increases the blood flow
to your noggin, bringing much-needed oxygen and glucose for fuel, explains Sandra Aamodt, PhD, co-author of Welcome to Your Brain.

In fact, you can learn vocabulary words 20% faster if you try to memorize them after doing an intense workout rather than a low-impact activity, suggests a study in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. Up the ante even more by taking a dance or kickboxing class—anything that requires you to remember a routine.