5. Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet might be as good for your brain as it is for your heart. Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat protein sources, such as fish, lean meat and skinless poultry. What you drink counts, too. Too much alcohol can lead to confusion and memory loss.
6. Include physical activity in your daily routine
Physical activity increases blood flow to your whole body, including your brain. This might help keep your memory sharp.
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging — preferably spread throughout the week. If you don't have time for a full workout, squeeze in a few 10-minute walks throughout the day.
7. Manage chronic conditions
Follow your doctor's treatment recommendations for any chronic conditions, such as depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and kidney or thyroid problems. The better you take care of yourself, the better your memory is likely to be. In addition, review your medications with your doctor regularly. Various medications can affect memory.
When to seek help for memory loss
If you're worried about memory loss — especially if memory loss affects your ability to complete your usual daily activities — talk to your doctor. He or she will likely do a physical exam, as well as check your memory and problem-solving skills. Sometimes other tests are needed as well. Treatment will depend on what's contributing to your memory loss.
Nov. 15, 2016
See more In-depth
- Press D, et al. Prevention of dementia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 19, 2016.
- Understanding memory loss: What to do when you have trouble remembering. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/understanding-memory-loss. Accessed Oct. 19, 2016.
- Forgetfulness: Knowing when to ask for help. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/forgetfulness. Accessed Oct. 19, 2016.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans summary. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/summary.aspx. Accessed Oct. 19, 2016.
- Brain basics: Understanding sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm. Accessed Oct. 19, 2016.
- Schreiner T, et al. To gain or not to gain — The complex role of sleep for memory. Comment on Dumay (2016). Cortex. 2016;30:1.