There’s a brain-boosting tip for every day of the month here, give them a try and improve memory pronto, says Michele O'Connor
1. Make a fist
Ball up your right hand when trying to remember a phone number or list. When you want to retrieve the information, clench your left hand. Researchers think these movements activate brain regions key to storing and recalling info.
2. Turn off the TV
Couch potatoes who sit in front of the TV for seven hours a day have twice the memory problems of those who watch less frequently, according to research presented at the American Academy of Neurology.
3. Drink coffee as you memorise info…
… then to improve memory imagine the smell of coffee when trying to remember it. ‘Linking the memory with a particular smell makes it easier to recall,’ says memory expert Dr Andrew Johnson, a lecturer in psychology at Bournemouth University.
4. Listen to music
Studies show that classical music can improve memory scores in memory tests of children and help those with dementia. Although, according to research by Glasgow Caledonian University, guitar rock could boost memory just as much.
5. Visualise what you need to do
If you’re in the kitchen and remember you need to close the bedroom window, think of the curtains flapping or rain wetting the carpet. Once you have paused to form the vivid association, go straight there. This avoids the ‘Now, what did I come in here for?’ scenario!
6. Drink beetroot juice
Those who downed a glass did better in memory tests than those who drank a placebo, say scientists at Northumbria University. The nitrates are thought to help blood flow to the brain.
7. Meet friends
People who have plenty of social contact are less likely to develop serious memory problems. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that socialising stimulates the mind, imrpove memory and keep mental ability sharp.
8. Get moving
University of Pittsburgh researchers found that just three 40-minute workouts a week could reverse natural brain shrinkage in those over 50 – and even encourage the brain to grow.
9. Take ginkgo biloba
This supplement may improve memory by boosting oxygen circulation to the brain, and is used in France and Germany to treat dementia. Try Healthspan Ginkgo Biloba 6,000mg (£10.95, healthspan.co.uk), but check with your doctor first.
People with gum disease tend to score lower in memory tests because infected gums release inflammatory by-products into the bloodstream that travel to the areas of the brain involved in memory, say dental researchers. Brush and floss twice daily for dental – and mental – health.
11. Eat oily fish
US research found that eating a weekly meal of omega-3-rich oily fish, such as salmon, reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 60%.
‘Often we forget something because we didn’t pay attention in the first place,’ says Ed Cooke,
founder of memory app Memrise.
13. Surf the net
US researchers compared the brains of middle-aged people who rarely used the internet against more experienced users. The latter group had significantly more active areas in the ‘prefrontal cortex’ – which controls the ability to make decisions and remember more complex information.
14. Snack on nuts
A handful of walnuts a day will boost brain speed and improve memory and concentration levels – thanks to their rich levels of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid.
15. Tot up your shopping…
… as you go to activate the ‘working memory’ part of your brain – vital for focus, concentration and planning. Working memory decreases by up to 10% each decade after 25, but training it can improve its function.
16. Chew it over
UK psychologists found that people who chewed gum during tests for both long- and short-term memory scored much higher than those who hadn’t been chewing. It’s thought chewing boosts oxygen supply to the brain.
17. Eat chicken
It’s rich in the nutrient choline and, say researchers at Tufts University, people who eat plenty of choline tend to perform better on memory tests.
18. Check your blood pressure
High blood pressure can narrow arteries, reducing blood flow to the brain. A US study found that hypertensive people were more likely to have memory problems – and the higher the blood pressure, the worse the problem.
19. Have a few squares of dark chocolate
Several studies suggest chocolate can improve memory. It’s thought to be due to the compound flavanols in the dark stuff.
20. Say it aloud
Studies published in the Journal Of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, And Cognition found that saying what you want to remember out loud to yourself – or even mouthing it – will help with recall.
21. Give us a cue
If there’s something you have to do every day at a specific time, then ‘implementation intentions’ should help, says cognitive neuropsychologist Dr Chris Moulin. For example, tell yourself, ‘When I have my morning cuppa, I’ll take my pills’. Or ‘When The Archers finishes I’ll do my exercises’.
22. Have green tea
Chinese researchers suggest drinking a cup of the green stuff regularly could improve memory, delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and fight heart disease. It’s thought the key ingredient is an antioxidant called EGCG (epigallocatechin-3 gallate).
23. Close your eyes
Close your eyes. University of Surrey scientists found that those with their eyes shut correctly answered over 70% of questions, compared to 40% with their eyes open.
24. Have a glass of milk
Adults who consumed dairy products at least five or six times a week did far better in memory tests compared with those who rarely ate or drank them.
25. Try A, B, C
When you can’t recall a piece of information, such as the name of an actor, go through each letter of the alphabet to find the first letter of the word or name you’re trying to remember. Experts say it jogs your memory.
In tests, doodlers performed 29% better than non-doodlers when asked to recall names and places, according to Plymouth University researchers. Experts say doodling allows us to focus on the task in hand.
27. Have blueberries for breakfast
Toss a handful on to porridge, cereal or natural yogurt. They’re rich in flavonoids, which increase blood flow to the brain and can improve concentration by 20%, say University of Reading scientists.
28. Take a 45-minute nap
It can improve memory up to fivefold, according to German researchers. Longer sleep during the night is important in embedding long-term memory, so make sure you get a decent night’s sleep, too.
29. Use imagery
‘Remember a person’s name by trying to imagine it (or something associated with it) on the person’s face,’ says Dr Moulin. If you meet John Bridge, imagine a bridge on his face. The more bizarre and vivid the image, the better it works.
30. Drink red wine
Half a glass a day improves cognitive ability and memory because of the flavonoids, say researchers from the University of Oxford. But don’t be tempted to drink more: excess alcohol intake has the opposite effect.