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Enhancing Memory and Concentration

Stress, exercise | April 3, 2019 | Author: Naturopath

memory, work stress, exercise

Enhancing Memory and Concentration

When we find it hard to or have trouble remembering things, we immediately become concerned about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, however other less frightening things could be contributing to our memory loss or lack of focus. Concentration is the specific effort directed towards a subject. Memory is the ability to remember experiences, information and people. Memory and concentration can be enhanced and improved. Memory can be enhanced from good concentration. 

What affects our memory and concentration 

Dehydration

It has been shown that it takes only a small degree of dehydration to compromise the functioning of the brain, effecting mood and memory, along with all bodily functions. Water makes up approximately two thirds of the body and is considered an essential nutrient playing an important role in waste removal, oxygenation, temperature regulation, amongst many other services. Extended periods of physical activity, without rehydration, can seriously affect these functions and have an impact on concentration and memory. Be sure to drink fluids regularly to support healthy brain function.

What affects our memory and concentration Exercise

Physical exercise has been shown to have a positive affect on brain plasticity, influencing cognitive function and promoting a positive mood.

Physical exercise is described as activity that has a precise frequency, duration and intensity – the objective being to improve or maintain physical fitness. Think aerobic or anerobic exercise. Go for a fast walk, jog, swim or bike ride to help think straight and enhance your mood.

Good night sleeps

Research is well established with the value of sleep for memory retention and value in consolidating information from the day. Newer findings describe sleep as a brain state optimizing memory consolidation, as opposed to the waking brain being optimized for programming of memories.

Stay Calm

Stress and anxiety can impair the ability to remember things. This can be frustrating in the middle of an exam or meeting, or embarrassing when introducing a good friend and forgetting their name. Sometimes this can happen because you may be so occupied with a situation that your thoughts are suppressed. But you can also suffer from a “flight or fight” response when your body releases adrenaline in response to a perceived stress. Adrenalin can actually have a stimulating effect on the brain, but it has has also been found that the anxiety induced from adrenaline will suppress memory and recall. Under stress, the release of cortisol into the blood stream, it binds to cells in the brain’s hippocampus (this is the area that converts new experiences into memory) which then disrupts the memory-forming process. Long-term stress can cause this to be permanent.
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To improve concentration and memory recall ....

  • Increase your mental focus - really pay attention to what you are doing/studying
  • Combat mental fatigue - get good quality sleep and take regular breaks
  • Balance emotional stress - employ relaxation techniques 
  • Exercise intensely and regularly 
  • Drink water to combat dehydration

Natural Therapies 


Some natural products have been found to help with memory, focus and assist with alleviating emotional stress.

Herbs and nutrients to help you remember.....

Brahmi (bacopa monnieri) possess neuroprotective properties and claims to improve memory. It is shown to have multiply properties which enhance cellular processes. These include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, metal chelation, amyloid and cholinergic effects.

Gingko biloba has been shown to improve memory recall and cognition. The specific gingko biloba studied was a standardized formulation called EGb 761®, which consists of ginkgolides, bilobalide and flavonoids.

Curcumin is the main natural polyphenol found in the rhizome of Curcuma longa (turmeric). It is able to decrease inflammation which is associated with development of neurodegenerative and neoplastic diseases (those associated with the brain and nervous system). Curcumin can interact and modulate many molecular processes in our body, offering a protective role for the nervous system and brain.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) leaf. Clinical trials have confirmed sage’s ability to enhance cognitive function. Ethanol extracts and the aroma of the essential oil of salvia officinalis showed improvement in memory performance of healthy older people. Put a few drops of the essential oil in your oil burner whilst studying.

EPA and DHA – (omega 3) Studies suggest supplementing with essential fatty acids of omega 3 may improve the status of EPA and DHA in the body and thus support brain function particularly those people with increased needs, such as lactating mums, or those showing a deficiency of essential fatty acids. Other sources of dietary omega 3 include fish, seaweed and algae, walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds.

Caffeine (Coffea arabica) was evaluated as a cognitive enhancer with positive effects.

Green tea (Camellia sinensis) is a popular drink containing many bioactive compounds including amino acids and flavonoids and the good news it has also been shown to improve cognitive performance.

Magnesium can support the establishment of new neural connections and stronger brain structure enabling faster recall. Margnesum is also known as the great relaxer.
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Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) root and rhizome can increase the resistance to physical, chemical, and biological stressors and may be useful in busy times of study or activity.

To improve concentration and memory recall ....Ginseng provides an adaptogenic approach to regaining homeostasis after abnormal physiological changes caused by the stress of everyday life.
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Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) fruit – properties include antii-inflammatory action, antioxidant and detoxification. It offers adaptogenic, ergogenic and central nervous system support making it a very helpful herb in times of stress and activity.

If studying

Support your memory in times of stress or when concentration is needed at work or in study by...

  • Ensure a pleasant environment free of distractions
  • Remain hydrated
  • Set a time frame
  • Practice memory recall of important information
  • Plan a completion reward - nothing like a treat to help you stay focused!

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References

https://theconversation.com/memory-and-attention-are-affected-by-much-lower-levels-of-dehydration-than-previously-thought-63950

https://www.ucc.vt.edu/academic_support/online_study_skills_workshops/improving_concentration_memory.html

Effects of Physical Exercise on Cognitive Functioning and Wellbeing: Biological and Psychological Benefits https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5934999/

About Sleep's Role in Memory https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768102/

What are the best sources of omega-3? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323144.php

Curcumin and Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6273481/

Mechanisms, Efficacy, and Safety of Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi) for Cognitive and Brain Enhancement

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4568033/

Pharmacological properties of Salvia officinalis and its components https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5634728/

Botanicals as Modulators of Neuroplasticity: Focus on BDNF https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5804326/

Current knowledge of Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill. (Chinese magnolia vine) as a medicinal plant species: a review on the bioactive components, pharmacological properties, analytical and biotechnological studies https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378736/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/memory-medic/201612/thwart-stress-effects-memory

Effects of ginseng on stress-related depression, anxiety, and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5628357/

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