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Poor memory could be result of lifestyle choices

When you walk into a room, do you sometimes forget the reason for going there? Do you often misplace things like your keys, wallet or cell phone? Poor memory can be frustrating at best, but it does not have to be a lost cause. Many times, poor memory can be the result of some of our lifestyle choices such as diet, activities and the amount of sleep we get. Fortunately, by changing some aspects of our lifestyle, we can actually improve our memory. Here are some ideas for making sure you don't lose those keys again.

* Eat a well-balanced diet -- Eating a variety of healthy foods with many nutrients can improve brain function. Nutrients are important to keep our minds healthy. One way to be sure that you are getting a good variety of nutrients is to make sure you are eating foods of all different colors. Different colored foods have different nutrients in them that all have specific benefits for our bodies and minds.

* Exercise daily -- Physical activity is not only good for our bodies, but it helps our minds feel good too. Daily exercise can help our minds to focus and stay sharp. It also reduces the feelings of mild stress, depression and anxiety which can be distracting.

* Get enough sleep -- Adults should get an average of eight hours of sleep each night. Our brains do not work very efficiently when we are sleep deprived. If getting that many hours of sleep is not feasible, try to find some time during the day to take a short nap. It may give your brain just what it needs to think more clearly.

* Do brain exercises -- As physical activities can be good for our physical health, mental activities, or brain exercises, can be good for our brain health. Regularly doing an activity that challenges you mentally, such as the daily crossword or Sudoku puzzles, taking a class or playing mind-stimulating games can sharpen your mind and memory.

* Check your medications -- Some medications can lead to forgetfulness. If you are taking a medication and have noticed some memory loss, check with your doctor to see if it is a side effect of your medication and if there may be an alternative. The medications that are most likely lead to memory problems include sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications, allergy medications, pain medications and anti-depressants.

If you tend to be forgetful, think about some of your lifestyle choices. What is your diet like? How often do you exercise (both physically and mentally)? How much do you sleep? Making these improvements can help to boost your memory. So make a point to go to bed a bit earlier or head to the gym a little more often. In the meantime, however, you may want to write yourself a note to do these things so you don't forget.

For more information on this topic, contact Christina Rittenbach, Stutsman County Extension Agent-in-Training, 252-9030, or Christina.Masich@