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Having a good memory is such an important part of our physical and mental wellbeing. Read on to find out how to support your memory, naturally.

Whether you want to keep your memory sharp as an adult, or you or your family are going through exams at school or university - memory is a key part of our happiness in life and in some cases, success.

Why is nutritional therapy important for memory?

So, what can be done to sharpen our memory through naturopathic principles and nutritional therapy?

In short, a lot can be done! Firstly, a nutrient-rich diet that includes foods high in antioxidants will help by providing crucial factors for the health of our brains. In addition to this, many herbal remedies have a history of traditional use in supporting memory and concentration. Lifestyle is also key to unlocking the full potential of your memory, meditation, adequate sleep, and regular exercise and activity can also promote optimal brain health – all of which are vital parts of a nutritional therapy consultation and are all topics we will discuss in more detail in this article.

Please note:

If you are experiencing sudden or severe changes in your memory, please discuss this with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. It is common to have subtle memory challenges in advancing age, but please do bring this up if you feel it is affecting you. Likewise, if you have experienced trauma to the head or related injury, this may also affect memory and should be monitored by a healthcare professional[i]. You can also read more in our related articles: Brain Fog / Concentration and Cognition / Brain Health / Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid) / Neurodegenerative Diseases / Panic Disorder / (Anxiety).

Supplement recommendations for memory

Phosphatidylserine: This Terranova product combines Ginkgo biloba, Rhodiola rosea, and choline to support cognitive function and memory. This unique blend is said to improve blood flow to the brain, enhance neurotransmitter activity, reduce fatigue, and provide essential nutrients for great brain health[ii][iii][iv]. Terranova Ginkgo, Rhodiola & Choline Complex

Gotu Kola: Gotu Kola has been traditionally used for its potential memory-enhancing properties, said to help in supporting cognitive function and memory retention[v]. Cellulite Tincture 50ml

B Vitamins: B vitamins, including B6, B9 (folate), and B12, play essential roles in brain health and memory function[vi]. Super B Extra (60 Capsules)

Bacopa: Also known as Bacopa Monnieri, Brahmi is an herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine for its proposed cognitive-enhancing properties. It has been traditionally used to support memory, concentration, and overall brain function[vii]. Cytoplan - Brahmi

Vitamin B12: plays a role in producing red blood cells and maintenance of the nervous system. Sufficient levels of vitamin B12 are necessary for the best cognitive performance[viii]. Viridian High Potency Vitamin B12

Organic Pharmacy Memory Drops: A vitamin, mineral and herbal blend of beneficial antioxidants for enhanced memory, with Centella Asiatica, Gingko Biloba, Picricum and Acidum[ix][x].

Living Nutrition Organic Fermented Wisdom: Containing curcumin - Studies suggest that curcumin helps enhance memory and protect against cognitive decline. In so doing, it may promote the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a protein that plays a crucial role in the growth and survival of neurons (nerve cells)[xi].

Dietary suggestions for memory

Oily fish: Studies suggest regular consumption reduces age-related brain loss and may improve memory. This is due to the omega-3 fatty acids promoting electrical signalling between nerve cells and may help improve mental concentration[xii].

Blueberries: Berries, blueberries, in particular, have been shown to have memory-enhancing properties thanks to plant flavonoids, known as anthocyanins and these effects may improve memory and cognitive processes[xiii].

Turmeric: Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin may help improve memory and boost overall brain health by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain[xiv].

Walnuts: being an especially good (plant-based) source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, they are said to improve both memory and cognition speed[xv].

Eggs: If tolerated, eggs are nutrient-dense. Try to get them from a good source, healthy chickens produce healthy eggs. They are very rich in choline (in the yolk), which is a nutrient needed for the formation of cell membranes and for brain function, including memory[xvi].

Green tea: A caffeinated drink, green tea may improve alertness, and enhance working memory and focus, especially when tasks are of long duration. Green tea is also rich in plant compounds that have a protective antioxidant effect on the brain[xvii].

Lifestyle suggestions for improving or retaining memory

Exercise: Engaging in regular exercise can increase blood flow to the brain, promote the growth of new neurons (nerve cells) and enhance the connections between brain cells. It is recommended to get around 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, along with strength training exercises, for the most benefit[xviii].

Stimulation: This can include reading, puzzles, learning new skills or languages, playing musical instruments, or engaging in strategic games like chess. Mental stimulation has been shown in studies to strengthen neural connections and maintain cognitive abilities in older age [xix].

Sleep: Sleep has long been documented for its ability to protect the brain. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. You should also limit exposure to electronic devices before bed to improve sleep quality[xx]. You can read more about sleep in our dedicated Sleep article.

Stress: managing stress is also an important factor, as chronic stress can negatively impact memory and function. You can try things such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies that you enjoy, keeping stress at bay[xxi][xxii]. You can read more about Stress here.

Functional testing options for investigating issues with memory

Gut Health: The gut and the brain communicate bidirectionally through the gut-brain axis, a complex network involving neural, hormonal, and immunological pathways. The gut microbiota, the trillions of microorganisms in the digestive system, play a crucial role in this communication[xxiii]. Everyone is unique, there could be so many potential causes behind a change in memory function[xxiv]. As such, there are many investigations that can be done into intestinal health via functional testing, such as the following examples:

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Test / Intestinal Permeability Profile / Complete GastroIntestinal and Microbiome Test / Metabolomix Plus:

Coeliac & Gluten Sensitivity Panel: The Coeliac & Gluten Sensitivity Profile (Finger Prick) helps differentiate between Coeliac Disease and gluten sensitivity. This test is useful for those who want an insight into how gluten may potentially be affecting their health. Memory function reduction in the form of severe ‘brain fog’ is common among those with Coeliac, and those with non-Coeliac gluten sensitivities[xxv][xxvi].

Food Sensitivity Test (Dietary Antigen Test): Many patients present with adverse reactions to foods but are not diagnosed with 'allergies' by routine methods. Many food allergies cause inflammation in the gut and can potentially be linked to neurological issues.

Thyroid Health: If your thyroid gland isn't working properly, it can cause memory issues. Studies have found that people with hypothyroidism scored lower on verbal memory recall or language-based memory tests[xxvii]. Complete Thyroid Panel: This test analyses serum levels of TSH, total T4, free T4, free T3, anti-TG antibodies, and anti-TPO antibodies, complete with reverse T3 to assess central and peripheral thyroid function, as well as thyroid autoimmunity. Thyroid imbalances have far reaching effects including decreased memory and concentration[xxviii].

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Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.