Want better working memory? Nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits play key roles in how much you remember
07/30/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

The way you live your life plays a vital role in how much or how well you remember. A team of researchers in Israel has suggested that adapting a healthier lifestyle can help improve working memory. For the study, which was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the research team recruited 823 participants aged between 22 and 37 years.

The participants underwent brain scans during a difficult memory task and accomplished post-scan memory test. The research team also measured the health and lifestyle of the participants. Results from the brain scans revealed the brain regions that mainly engage in working memory tasks. These include the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, parietal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex. These brain regions served as a frame of reference to evaluate the relationship between working memory and health and lifestyle.

The research team found that there was a strong association between activity in working-memory brain areas and health and lifestyle. After taking into consideration all behavior and health factors, the highest positive correlation occurred with fluid intelligence, reading, spatial orientation, picture vocabulary, several memory tests, and attentiveness, respectively. In addition, these healthy lifestyle habits generally improved brain function of the participants.

On the other hand, there was an inverse correlation between specific lifestyle indicators as a large body mass index and various unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as binge drinking and regular smoking. Health factors that correlated negatively with working-memory brain areas included a high body mass index (BMI), high blood pressure, and reduced glucose regulation. (Related: Poor lifestyle habits in middle age cause brain shrinkage and cognitive decline.)


The findings of the study suggested that practicing healthy lifestyle habits, especially in young people, can lead to better brain function. In addition, those healthy lifestyle habits will benefit both the body and brain in aging well.

Seven habits to enhance boost brain function

Here are seven things you can do to improve brain function:

  1. Limit multitasking – Excessive multitasking can be too much for the brain. It can diminish mental productivity, increase brain fatigue, and raises stress levels.
  2. Get enough amount of sleep – Getting enough sleep is essential for brain health. It is recommended to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night regularly. Information is brought together in the brain at a deeper level of understanding during sleep.
  3. Have an exercise routine– Exercise is important to improve brain health and function because it helps enhance memory, increase attention and concentration, and improve brain blood flow in the brain-memory area. It is advised to get a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times each week.
  4. Create summaries – One of the many ways to improve brain health is to create a summary for your task-assignment reading, training seminars, articles, movies you see, or books you read. In comparison to memorizing or remembering a series of facts or information, abstracting novel ideas creates a brain with an improved long-term memory for global ideas and the ability to retrieve fundamental facts.
  5. Know your priorities – Focus on important tasks then block out information, that is relatively unimportant. Setting a limit of taking in information is an important brain function associated with brain health.
  6. Stay motivated – When you are motivated, your brain creates faster and more vigorous neural connections. One way to stay motivated is to identify your passions or things that you like doing and learn more about them.
  7. Eat memory-boosting foods – Foods rich in vitamin E, such as seeds, nuts, and whole grains; omega-3-rich foods, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna; dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, collard greens, spinach, and broccoli; avocado; red wine; and berries keep the brain and body healthy.

Making smart and healthy lifestyle choices will improve both the mind and body. It is better to take extra measures to keep the brain healthy before it gets too late. Changing lifestyle habits after the damage has already occurred may be too late.

Read more news stories and studies on the relationship between lifestyle and brain health by going to Brain.news.

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