Some things (like that unfortunate perm) you'd like to forget. For everything else, get closer to total recall with these easy tips
1. Move It or Lose It As if fitting into your skinny jeans weren't motivation enough, working out also raises levels of essential neuro-proteins, which "lead to more brain cells that are better connected," says physician Mark Hyman of Lenox, Mass. "It's like Miracle-Gro for the brain." For best results he recommends 30 minutes of vigorous cardio activity, four to six times a week.
2. Sip Some Red Don't wait for your next spa visit to indulge in vino-therapy: Studies show that drinking red wine in moderation (no more than one glass daily for women) slows the buildup of plaque in the brain, which can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
3. Stop Stressing! Attention, Type A personalities: Put down that Blackberry and strike a downward dog pose. If you don't learn how to relax, stress hormones will shrink your brain's memory center, the hippocampus.
4. Ban the Sugar Wish you could wipe last night's sugar binge from your memory? Keep it up and you might be in luck. "It's clear that sugar and refined carbohydrates, like those found in processed foods, cause cognitive damage and memory impairment," says Hyman. In fact, diabetics are four times more likely than nondiabetics to suffer from dementia.
5. Curry Favor Flavor isn't the only reason to expand your spice rack. Studies found that turmeric -- the yellow spice that gives curry its distinctive color -- increases brain function when eaten at least once every six months. To reap the benefits, Dr. Andrew Weil suggests stirring one level teaspoon into soups and stews.
6. Close Your Eyes You snooze, you lose? Not when it comes to your brain. A study at Harvard Medical School showed that a 45-minute nap of non-REM sleep boosts recall of information.
7. Skip the Edamame Soy has its virtues, but aiding memory isn't one of them, say researchers at Oxford and Loughborough universities in England. A recent study concluded that eating two or more servings of soy products each day can decrease memory function by as much as 20 percent, particularly among vegetarians and elderly women.
8. Be a Social Butterfly Say goodbye to Sudoku, hello to your BFF. A University of Michigan study found that talking to another person for 10 minutes increases your memory as much as doing a brainteaser.
9. Binge on Blueberries The food equivalent of flash cards, this popular fruit improves short-term memory better than other antioxidant-rich foods, such as kale, spinach and strawberries, according to scientists at Tufts University. Experts say one cup a day is all you need for the brain boost.
10. Get Scent Smart Set the mood, yes. But who knew lighting candles could help you learn French? "Our studies show that smelling a mixed floral scent increases the speed of learning by 17 percent," says Chicago neurologist Alan Hirsch. Subjects in the experiment sniffed freesia, gardenia, lilac and rose, but almost any blend will do (we like Belle Fleur's new floral candles). Just skip lavender blends, says Hirsch. They adversely affect learning speed.