We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Prevention here on FitSugar!
By Mandy Oaklander, Prevention
Leave it to scientists to burst our bubble. For years, studies have told us that chewing gum can boost memory recall, and as such, we’d pop Chiclets during noggin-twisting times: exams, high school reunions, Jeopardy. Did it ever work for us? Honestly, we can’t remember — and there might be reason for that.
A study out of Cardiff University in the UK found that not only does chewing gum not help your short-term memory, but it also impairs it. Though there are certain activities that surprisingly boost brain health, gum chewing isn’t one of them.
In a series of three experiments, 97 university students were asked to recall either a short sequence of letters or identify the missing item in a list. They performed significantly worse when chewing gum, no matter how vigorously or how lazily they chomped. Researchers speculate that the tongue, mouth, and jaw movements of gum chewing disrupt short-term memory (For a fun way to refresh your mind, try these seven brain games).
You can still fight short-term memory loss, hand to mouth, with these five tricks!
Spice it up. Sniffing some cinnamon has been shown to improve scores on memory tests, such as recalling a long sequence of images. Plus, a 2011 study from Tel Aviv University found that an extract from cinnamon bark helped prevent amyloid plaques from forming in mice with Alzheimer's.
Bring on the berries. An animal study from the National Institute on Aging and Tufts University found that rats fed a diet containing blueberry extract did better navigating a maze than those that didn't get the compound. Researchers suspect that anthocyanin — the dark blue pigment found in blueberries — contains chemicals that can boost blood flow to the brain.
Pump some iron. Even if you’re not anemic, you may not be getting enough iron, which can affect your recall abilities, according to research from Johns Hopkins University. Nosh some iron-rich foods — like tofu, spinach, and pinto beans — or lean red meat.
Raise a toast! Preserve your brain with one glass of red wine (one, we said!), which contains the compound resveratrol that may help keep your memory sharp. Resveratrol has been shown to hamper the formation of beta-amyloid protein, a key ingredient in the plaque found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, according to research.
Chomp two apples. This fruit offers an arsenal of antioxidants, which elevate your levels of the memory-forming neurotransmitter acetylcholine that’s essential to memory and tends to decline with age, says Tom Shea, PhD, director of the Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research at University of Massachusetts Lowell.