It is sometimes said that you have to eat fish. Others praise the merits of certain spices. How do we know what really works to preserve our memory? Hélène Amieva, the member of the Scientific Council of the B2V Observatory of Memories and a researcher for Inserm, shares 5 tips to stimulate your memory and keep all your memories intact.
Cognitive decline is when one or more brain functions are impaired. It has already been established that cognitive performance decreases with age. “In a study published in the British Medical Journal, an Inserm research team led by Archana Singh-Manoux shows that our memory, our ability to reason and understand begin to decline at the age of 45,” shares Inserm. This phenomenon can manifest itself in a gradual decline in memory and executive functions.
However, you can preserve your memory as long as possible if you adopt the right reflexes on a daily basis. Hélène Amieva, a University Professor in Psychogerontology and member of the Scientific Council of the B2V Observatory of Memories, gives us several solutions to stimulate memory. A researcher for an Inserm research center and a doctor in neuroscience, she studies cognitive and amnesic functioning and explains the impact of many factors on mental health.
1- Hang out with the world
“We must conceive of social ties as a source of intellectual stimulation in their own right,” says Hélène Amieva. In other words, get out! Meet the world for an improvised dinner, meet your loved ones during a cultural outing, or let yourself be tempted by a movie session. Not only do these activities strain your planning, language, and memory skills, but above all, they are sources of pleasure and relaxation.
This finding was also made by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. After assessing the impact of loneliness on dementia risk in 823 people, they found that loneliness would weaken the neural system and be conducive to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Indeed, stimulating social relationships help to keep the brain healthy and to maintain each other pleasantly. Choose activities that make sense for you and the people you feel good with to promote fun and laughter, recommends the Alzheimer Research Foundation. Relax, avoid permanent stress, because it triggers the manufacture of corticosteroids that, in excess, can promote the destruction of neurons.”
Brain: bet on the Mediterranean diet and (a little bit) chocolate!
2- Rethink your plates
Power and memory are closely related. “Healthy eating habits and maintaining a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) would significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease,” says the Alzheimer’s Research Foundation.
Hélène Amieva also does not minimize the impact of diet. “There is a strong link between diet, brain function, and memory. A study showed that people who followed a Mediterranean diet, that is to say, a diet rich in olive oil, fish, fruits, and vegetables and low in meats and dairy products, had a decline in amnesic functions less important than others, “relays the researcher.
Be careful, however, not to fall into the trap of preconceived ideas. “We regularly hear that turmeric and/or red fruits help improve memory encoding. No scientific study has proven the veracity of this belief, even if these two foods are rich in antioxidants, “says Hélène Amieva.
If the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for memory, it is because it is rich in antioxidants and omega-3s. “They help fight against the production of excess free radicals that are toxic to neurons,” says the Alzheimer Research Foundation.
3- Fall for (a little bit) chocolate
If it is not recommended to rush to your bar at the risk of paying you indigestion, you can however treat yourself from time to time with a square of dark chocolate. “Chocolate, like coffee and tea, is rich in methylxanthines, beneficial for a number of functions (memory, attention, and mood for example),” explains the Inserm researcher.
It turns out that the cocoa bean also contains flavanols. They are known for their actions on insulin and cerebral circulation with positive effects on cognition, immune system, and learning ability. “It is flavanols that are beneficial for memory and not sugar and cocoa, which bring us pleasure and good humor,” adds Hélène Amieva.
To keep the memory, move and have fun!
4- Practice regular physical activity
Several scientific studies agree that physical activity is associated with less cognitive decline.
“Regular physical activity stimulates blood circulation, including in the brain. Recent scientific studies have shown that intense physical exercise (30 minutes per day) stimulates the formation of new neurons throughout life. If you can’t do intensive sports, swimming, yoga, dancing, cycling or simply walking or gardening can help slow down cognitive decline problems,” says the Alzheimer Research Foundation.
In addition to physical activity, recovery is just as essential if you want to preserve your memory. “Lack of sleep can cause problems with concentration or memory. It is during sleep that the brain evacuates its waste, especially beta-amyloid proteins, “says the Alzheimer Research Foundation. It is therefore recommended to sleep at least 7 hours a night and to respect the sleep/wake cycle.
5- Reading, DIY, gardening… Hobbies are good for memory
“All intellectual activities to preserve memory provided that they are carried out without stress and that they are a source of pleasure, shares Hélène Amieva. It has never been shown that forcing oneself to perform sudokus prevent cognitive decline. On the other hand, many studies have shown that people with stimulating leisure activities such as knitting, gardening, DIY, reading, have a lower cognitive decline than others.”