Our Magnificent Memory

January 29, 2016
brain in hand

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Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche said, “The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.” If you don’t want to prove his point, read on for ways to boost your memory!

Our Magnificent Memory

We used our 2003 Old Farmer’s Almanac to compile some interesting tidbits and tips about your brain and memory.

Memory Myths and Reality: Don’t Be Fooled

Here are some common misconceptions about memory and the reasons why they do not hold true.

Myth: Remembering faces is easy. Remembering names is hard.

Reality: You may not realize it, but we remember faces in a way that is different from how we remember names. When we say we remember a face, it’s because we recognize that person. When we say we don’t remember a name, it’s because we don’t recall it. Recognition is generally easier than recall because the stimulus (the face) is right there in front of us.

Myth: We only use 10 percent of our brain.

Reality: Not true. We use all of our brain, all of the time.

Myth: We are born with all of the brain cells that we’ll ever have.

Reality: For decades, most people believed that once our brain cells were destroyed by injury, illness, or aging, they were gone for good. New cell- counting technology has revealed that cell loss with age is minimal, and adult brains actually generate new brain cells every day.


Brain Foods

Some foods are better than others at keeping your brain in top shape. Here are a few of the best.

Salmon: Fish is a brain food, particularly cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines. Fish oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for healthy brain function. Green leafy vegetables, canola, olive, and flaxseed oils are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Salmon and greens.

Blueberries: Many age-related diseases are really the result of a lifetime of exposure to oxidizing free radicals. Blueberries are one of the best sources of free-radical neutralizing antioxidants.

Spinach: Spinach and other leafy green vegetables boost your brain with antioxidant vitamins E and C and the B vitamin folic acid.

 Use It or Lose It: Brain-Boosting Activities

Just as your body becomes less efficient without regular activity, so does your brain if it’s not put to good use. Here are some strategies to help you fully “exercise” your memory.

Get Moving: Much of the decrease in memory that we attribute to aging is a result of reduced blood flow to the brain. This is because we tend to get less active with age. Regular exercise improves circulation throughout the body, including the brain. A study funded by the National Institute on Aging found that 6 months of regular aerobic exercise increases mental performance in the elderly by 25 percent.

Make New Friends: The single worst thing you can do for your memory is to isolate yourself from the world around you. Interacting with others stimulates the brain in myriad ways.

Sleep on It: Sleep—or lack of it—affects memory. The second stage of memory, consolidation, happens most effectively when we sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation can therefore hinder memory. When we’re sleepy, our concentration and ability to pay attention are compromised—affecting our ability to store new memories and retrieve old ones.

Now … the Number One Brain-Boosting Activity: Reading! (Crossword puzzles will help your brain to work up a sweat, too.)

About This Blog

This new corner of Almanac.com will feature news, information, and cool stuff from The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its family of publications.