Factors That Affect Your Memory

Did you know that sugar, stress, and sleep deprivation hurt your memory?

We often take certain things for granted, and we learn to appreciate their true value only when we face the risk of losing them. Memory is one of them. Remembering names, faces and numbers come naturally.

However, for some of us, there might come a moment when remembering is not that simple anymore. Forgetting can be a very frustrating thing. Even more so, cruel diseases like Alzheimer’s show us just how frighteningly fast our precious memory can truly fade.  That is the moment when we truly realize what a high-valued commodity memory truly is.

However, after the damage was already caused, we cannot help but search for ways to fix the problem. Right now the supplement companies are earning a great living on many people’s attempts to fix, improve and enhance our memory.

However, when it comes to memory, just like any other matter of the brain, you should know that it is a lot easier to prevent than treat. To be able to effectively treat the effect, you must understand the cause and the answer to our decreasing memory ability are sadly within our daily routine.

Medical studies revealed how fragile the memory is and how easy it can be hurt by the simplest of the things which we regularly do and which apparently are unrelated. What we eat, how much we work, and how much we sleep are just a few of the aspects of our daily activity which have turned out to have a great influence on the quality and health of our overall memory.

Sugar is the sweet danger to our health

Although it is true that a bit of sugar can make almost any food or drink, taste better, the same thing can also cause many health problems. Nowadays we eat a lot of processed food that has an inbuilt added amount of sugar.

And when we say sugar, you don’t necessarily have to imagine those small white crystals that we are used to. Sugar is more often than not,  a more general term which describes many types of sweeteners that are more or less organic.

A good example of that is cane sugar and molasses. From the chemical point of view, what we call sugar is also known as sucrose, and it has two main molecules: fructose and glucose. Of these two, the fructose is the one that medical researchers revealed as being a potentially significant threat to our precious memory.

Several years ago, to be more exact, sometime in 2012, several medical researchers from UCLA collaborated with specialists from India to study the way that the brain is influenced by fructose. The study was started by training some lab rats to find their way in a maze which they build for the experiment.

After the rats learned the course to escape the maze, some of them were fed water with an extra addition of fructose. After drinking the sweet water on a daily basis, the rats found it more difficult to remember the way out of the maze.

The conclusion which the doctors reached is that eating fructose over a long period alters the brain’s ability to acquire new information and remember it.

One might say that this is a simple lab study on mice, and it doesn’t apply to the human brain. However, the results are hard to ignore as there are also other studies out there which corroborate the information about the negative influence of fructose to the brain.

For example, just last year, the OR State University found a strong connection between high fructose diet and the young mice’s ability to use both short and long term memory. So maybe it is time to stop indulging your sweet tooth and take a considerable better care of your memory.

When you are stressed out it is far easier to forget important things

Food is not the only factor with a significant influence on our memory. One of the other things one should consider when trying to improve memory and protect brain function is stress. And that’s because a stressful lifestyle can take a toll on our useful ability to remember things.

We all have experienced that particular situation when we had to do so many things at once that it felt impossible to remember every detail. That is also usually the moment when we start losing track of time; we forget about deadlines and appointments.

Up to a certain point, this reaction is normal as when facing stress, the human body in naturally designed to release the cortisol hormone which is designed to help us handle the stressful and challenging situation which we are faced with.

This chemical starts pumping into your blood system and forces you to make a decision. Cortisol is the same type of chemical which usually activates the flight-or-fight response which we experience in dangerous situations.

In recent years, increasingly more studies lead by famous doctors all across the globe confirms the fact that long term stress causes cortisol levels to grow to dangerous levels.

Once increased to such levels, cortisol starts to damage the cover around the nerves and important neuron ratios in the hippocampus. In fewer words, constant stress affects the way the memory center’s nerves communicate and damage the precious synapse brain network we rely on.

Unfortunately, the effects extend much further than one might expect, the process leading to the end to mood disorders, anxiety, and serious learning difficulties.

A team of scientists from the AZ State University studied the effects of chronic stress on lab mice, and they realized that it was difficult for them to remember the right way through the mazes. And that’s because their working spatial memory was affected.

For humans, the process is just like finding your way through an unfamiliar city. The “working” memory helps one person notice details about the surroundings, maintain the information so it can be used for making decisions.

A person’s ability to store, process and use information to solve puzzles and resolve problems starts with considerable deteriorate if the brain is stressed for a long period.

Memory is affected by the sleepless nights

One of the common side effects of stress in insomnia. It is estimated that 70% of the adults around the world are suffering from sleep deprivation to some extent or another. And the more sleep deprived we are, the less we perform and the more our memory suffers.

And that’s because only during sleep memories are consolidated and stored so they can be accessed when needed. Information is consolidated during sleep, and when awake the brain can recall it, so if the brain is constantly deprived of sleep its fabulous consolidating and storing information ability will be decreasing.

That explains why, at moments when you’re exhausted and sleep deprived, remembering things which you have just recently learned is getting harder and harder.

Recently, a Finish team of scientists noticed during a study that lack of sleep also damages the long-term memory and logic centers. Just to show that sleep does have a huge role in regulation the way our brain works.

Habits have an influence over the memory

For our grandparents, it may seem a little difficult to understand why we keep forgetting things even though we are young. It is all because of the lifestyle which our generation and lifestyle promote.

Sometimes, older people prove to have a better memory due to the less stressful life they had and the healthier diet. Maybe that is one thing we should learn something from them.

Regardless of who you are and what your age is, here are some of the best advice we can give you to help protect and improve your memory:

  • Avoid sugar. It may not be easy at first if you have a sweet tooth, but it is well worth it in the long run. Start by replacing sugary soda with fresh juice and try to reduce a considerable amount of the sugar, which you put in your coffee, tea or in your favorite cake recipe.

  • Find easy, natural, relaxing ways to help decrease the stress level. It is hard to find time for yourself if you have a busy schedule, but it is important to have at least 30 minutes each day to do something you enjoy, like reading, playing piano or taking a bubble bath.

  • Sleep more. Turn off all the communication devices, the TV as well as the computer so you can set up a healthy sleep routine. Even as little as a half an hour nap will help you give a much-needed refresh to your brain and boost the memory levels.

  • Avoid taking supplements. Even though there are many companies that promote wonder supplements that instantly boost your memory, try to stay away from them as much as possible as no pill or energy drink can or will replace the effect of a good sleep, a moment of relaxation or a healthy sugar-free

Reversing our day to day bad habits requires a lot of willpower and determination as stress, sugar and sleeplessness have become a part of our busy, modern culture. Making a career is the main reason for stress among young people leading them to work many extra hours to impress the boss.

To be able to do that, they often feel the need to consume boosters and fall into the trap of building habits out of the consumption of sugary and energy drinks. At the end of the day, we must ask ourselves if the effort of doing so many things in such a short time is worth damaging our memory.

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