Brits forget up to 1095 things a year, including their partner’s phone number, birthdays – and where they’ve parked the car.
A study of 2,000 adults found they forget something on average three times a day, including why they entered a room, what they were about to say and other people’s names.
Professor Hana Burianova, a Cognitive Neuroscientist working with Healthspan, which commissioned the study called ‘Navigating Brain Health’ said: “We can be forgetful for various reasons, but generally, we pay attention to too many things at the same time, so our brain processing is ‘fragmented’ and cannot function effectively – meaning that the networks specialising in attention or memory do not work at their optimal efficiency, as we keep switching from one to the other, not retaining information long enough to remember or focusing long enough to retrieve the relevant memory.
“Our brains overload when we have lots of different things going on and this impacts our memory.”
Our brain ageing actually begins as early as our twenties. Memory is affected by ageing, lack of sleep, menopause, and stress and diet also plays a pivotal role in supporting brain health.
“Evidence is beginning to shape our understanding of how specific foods are linked to brain health.” Says Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition. “Research is also beginning to highlight the fact that sticking to the Mediterranean diet is associated with improved cognition.”
“‘Smart pill’s such as nootropics which contain a combination or ‘stack’ of ingredients known to enhance brain function are popular such as Healthspan’s’ Love Your Brain’ specifically formulated to support brain health Brian combining key ingredients proven to support mental performance1, cognitive2 and psychological function.”
‘Use it or lose it and use it wisely’ says Prof Burianova. “The brain has the ability to change and evolve, this process is known as neuroplasticity. Mental muscle strengthening such as learning something new helps improve primary cognitive functions such as concentration and memory, and higher-order cognitive functions such as decision making and problem-solving.”
More than a fifth (21%) often find themselves struggling to remember their passwords for various accounts, while 16 per cent suspect technology has caused them to be less reliant on their own memory.
A little over a tenth (12%) of adults have fallen out with someone because they forgot their birthday, according to the OnePoll figures.
To try and fight off embarrassment at forgetting something, 34 per cent will laugh it off and try and make a joke of the situation.
But 14% are so concerned they will make a note of it and continue to track any other potential symptoms of diminished brain activity.
Finally, Prof Burianova says, “Our brain loves new things and it’s not always possible to do this on a daily basis. A mundane task can be revamped by simply ‘being present’ when doing it. e.g., take brushing your teeth, this simple act, next time you do it, concentrate on that one act, taste, the toothpaste, concentrate on the act nothing else.”
Here are five habits that can boost your brain and improve memory:
- Avoid multitasking – switching from one task to another very rapidly, as the brain is unable to handle it well and it actually increases a stress response, overstimulation of the brain as it increases noise.
- Stack up on vital brain nutrients – Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition says, “Nutritional brain health is at the cutting edge of neuroscience right now. From the use of probiotics to regulate the communication between the gut and brain to the use of ‘nutrient stacks’ or combinations of individual neuro l vitamins and minerals to target a specific outcomes.
- Seek novelty – but not compulsively – frequent switching of attention has a detrimental effect on the brain. New information/experience yields a neurochemical reward but we don’t have to go on huge great adventures.
- Take care of your gut – A diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and oily fish – a bit like a Mediterranean diet – helps promote the health of gut bacteria that produce butyrate/butyric acid and other fatty acids. We’re starting to realise how important these microbes are because they can help us regulate gut-brain communication in a way that is beneficial for our brain/mental health.
- Habit stack – build on foundational neural connections by linking pre-existing habits to new behaviours, for example, place your supplements by the kettle so that when you go to make your morning tea, you’ll be prompted to take your vitamins. Over time, new neural connections will develop into a ‘habit stack’ whereby you’ll remember to pop the supplements automatically.