Protect Your Brain Cells and Boost Your Memory

As the scientific tools we use get more and more sophisticated, the things we learn about the brain and memory do as well. For example, a recent study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology proved that certain memories are stored in very specific locations of the brain. The researchers were able to stimulate the brains of mice that triggered the memory of an electric shock, and even though the mice weren’t shocked during this stimulation, they still reacted in fear as they re-lived the memory. You can read more about this study here.

The implications for these findings range from the use of artificial stimulation to recover lost memories to therapeutic treatments for disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), where people have memories linked to certain events, smells, or sounds that cause distress. There’s also a more practical piece of information to take away from this study, and that is the importance of the brain cells themselves in the encoding, storage, and retrieval of memories. If, as the researchers have shown, individual memories are connected to specific brain cells, it’s logical to conclude that loss of those brain cells will cause a loss of the memories, too. For that reason alone, it’s crucial that you do everything you can to keep your brain in good physical shape. Here are some things to do, and to avoid:

Eat a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet in general, but be sure to include the “good” fats that help protect the brain, like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium and iron. Concentrate on including high-fiber foods into your diet to keep your blood moving so there’s no problem getting nutrients and oxygen to your brain.

Drink lots of liquids to keep your body and brain tissue hydrated, but avoid too much caffeine and stay away from high-sugar drinks entirely. While you’ll definitely get a jolt from both in the short term, the “crash” will often wipe out your short-term memories. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which has been shown to destroy brain cells.

Exercise regularly so that a steady flow of necessary oxygen reaches your brain to keep it working well. Regular exercise will also help eliminate any circulation problems you might have, which also improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your brain.