To learn another language and memorize lots of new vocabulary, having a good memory is essential. The human brain’s capabilities are simply amazing. But do you know how to tap into your mind’s full potential? While some people claim to have a “bad memory,” in reality, it’s something everyone can improve and see tangible results. In our series of articles on how to improve your memory, you’ll find tons of techniques, tricks, helpful tools, and healthy lifestyle and eating habits that will boost your mental prowess. Here’s our guide on how to improve your memory with lifestyle and food choices.
Last Updated: 11/13/2021
If you want to get your mental juices flowing to start strengthening your memory, try out some of these basic tips for a head start.
Stress is one of your memory’s biggest foes. Did you know that you can even experience stress-related memory loss? During bouts of intense, prolonged stress, retrieving and remembering information becomes significantly more difficult. Read the full study to learn more.
One effective option is to take a short break. Relax your mind and body, take a deep breath, and move around a little. Before tackling a study session, some people benefit from doing yoga stretches. Others feel more focused when they listen to relaxing music and look at visually pleasing pictures. Experiment to find out what works for you. I like listening to Calm, an app that transforms your living room into a relaxing oasis. A short ten-minute break listening to the sounds of a bonfire and I’m like new, ready to take on the next lesson in my Portuguese course.
Here are a few other remedies for stress that, too often neglected, can make a real difference:
- If you have too much work and not enough time to learn, delegate tasks to others. Reach out to colleagues, family members, and friends to help you manage.
- Make a list of all the things you need to do, and prioritize those that need to be done sooner than others. If you simply have too much to do, decide what can be completed at a later date. Or, even better, do away with tasks you don’t have time for and focus on those that matter most.
- Allow time for things that make you happy. Balancing obligations and fun can be hard, but overworking can lead to unproductive or frazzled performance. Dedicate time to doing something you love to feel more grounded and calm. (For some people, this is language learning!)
Now that you know how stress affects the brain during learning, if your language practice itself is a main source of stress for you, there’s a problem! Language learning should be an entertaining and enjoyable activity. Here’s some further reading if sitting down to practice has started inducing stress or anxiety:
- Overcome Psychological Obstacles and Speak More Confidently [VIDEO]
- Why “Fake It Til You Make It” Should Be Your New Language Learning Motto [VIDEO]
- How to Overcome Your (Irrational) Fear of Speaking [VIDEO]
- Hands-On Learning: The Fun Way to Improve Your Language Skills
The role of sleep, often overlooked, proves fundamentally important to the learning process. Sleeping a solid number of hours is the first step towards a stronger memory. During sleep, our brain processes, sorts through, and synthesizes all the information we’ve learned during the day. Our ability to retain concepts—our memory, essentially—strengthens and improves while we sleep. A study we conducted here at MosaLingua showed that it’s even possible to learn a language in your sleep!
For ideal brain health, the average person should sleep between 7 and 8 hours per night, never going to bed after midnight. For language learners, our advice is to study new vocabulary in the morning, shortly after getting up, because that’s when our brain is in the best shape. Check out Luca’s “miracle morning” routine. Evenings can be dedicated to reviewing information to reinforce the concepts you’ve already learned.
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Oftentimes, good organization skills can ward off unnecessary stress. When we think about all the things that we have to get done, that pit in our stomachs reminds us of the importance of organization. Planning is key, not only for the tasks you absolutely have to finish, but also to help you remember what you’ve learned.
If you plan some breaks throughout the day, you can de-stress your mind and work on your language skills at the same time. Review vocabulary, quiz yourself with flashcards, or even jot down some phrases you learned. Your brain will thank you for it.
If organization isn’t your forte, here’s some further reading:
- How to Make a Language Study Plan and Stick to It
- Get Organized: The Perfect Plan for Making Fast Progress [VIDEO]
- 5 Tips on Successfully Planning Your Foreign Language Study
As the Roman poet Juvenal once said, “Healthy mind, healthy body.” We agree, since engaging in physical exercise increases oxygen levels in the brain, thereby raising our attention levels. According to one Harvard Medical School article, “Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in volume in people who exercise than in people who don’t.” The impact of exercise on memory is a big one!
There’s also a link to our other tips. Exercise can help us sleep better, can reduce anxiety and stress, and can provide us with opportunities to connect with others through team sports and group workouts.
In 2021, studying language is much less about sitting down to read a textbook and much more about doing whatever activities you enjoy. And there are plenty of active ways to study language, too! Here are a few articles about non-sedentary learning methods that you might like:
- Language Learning in the Kitchen – Is It Even Possible?
- 5 Tips on How to Learn a Language While Traveling
- Improve Your Comprehension with Podcasts and Audiobooks
💡 MosaTip: Did you know that your MosaLingua app has a hands-free feature? That means you can easily take your language practice on the go! Head out for a run, bike ride, or other workout, and come back with both a stronger body and a stronger memory!
Caught up in the diabolical rhythm of modern life and the thousands of tasks awaiting completion, we all too often forget the benefits of taking a moment to meditate. Scientists have long studied the positive effects meditation has on the learning process. It can help increase concentration (essential to studying), reduce stress levels, and allow us to fully take advantage of our incredible brains. You don’t have to meditate for hours to see results, either. Just 10 minutes a day of listening to calming music and paying attention to your breath and heartbeat can have great benefits for your memory.
Humans are social creatures. Spending time with friends and family is essential to a healthy mind, which makes for a strong memory. For our brains to stay sharp, we need conversation, interaction, discussion, debate—basically, stimulation beyond a television or computer screen.
Speaking with foreign friends or conversation partners is a wonderful way to get in your language practice and train your memory at the same time! If speaking isn’t a regular part of your language routine, here are a few articles to help you ease into it:
- How to Improve Speaking Skills in Any Language, A Beginner’s Guide [VIDEO]
- When and How to Start Speaking a Foreign Language [VIDEO]
- 🆓 FREE PDF guide: How to Find Conversation Partners: The Best Language Exchange Sites & Tandem Apps
We often associate healthy eating habits with a desire to lose weight, but there’s also a strong link between food and memory. What we consume doesn’t just impact our muscles, it also affects our brain. Check out this article for tips on what to eat the night before a big exam and what to avoid at all costs if you want to ace it! For a sharp mind and a healthy body, incorporate these vital foods and beverages into your meals. In other words, here’s some food for your thoughts 😉
Salmon is often touted as the best food for memory boosting. It provides much-needed omega-3 fatty acids, essential for good memory and proper brain function. For a more varied diet to improve memory capabilities, you can also get a load of omega-3s from anchovies, mackerel, and herring. And since fish also contains phosphorus, it’s a double serving of memory-friendly food.
Can dehydration affect your memory? You bet it can! Dehydration negatively impacts brain function and cognitive performance, causing fatigue and a weakened ability to remember information. Drinking water while you study will help to keep your brain hydrated and your mind alert. I take breaks throughout the day (every 30 to 40 minutes) and drink a big glass of water. Ultimately, you should aim for two liters, or 64 ounces, a day for best results.
Vitamin C and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, are the special “ingredients” in tomatoes that support brain health. This nutrient has been studied a lot because it has the potential to help your brain’s defense mechanisms and protect it from cognitive decline. Lycopene is what makes tomatoes red, so remember this easy memory tip: the redder the better!
Milk contains a lot of calcium, potassium, and Vitamin B, all of which inundate our brains with benefits. Breakfast cereal can have a whole host of vitamins and minerals. Just be sure to opt for whole-grain cereal, because sugar can have the opposite effect you want on your brain. It gives your brain a burst of energy, but it isn’t sustained throughout the day. Nutritious, fiber-rich cereal and milk are great brain-boosting foods, so a bowlful is sure to start your day off well.
Instead of snacking on chips, go for fruits of all colors. Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges contain tons of Vitamin C, while raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are oozing with antioxidants. Eating the entire fruit is best since you get all of the nutritious fiber that comes along with it. However, if you prefer fruit smoothies or juices, these also pack a powerful punch of healthiness to the brain.
Nuts are a natural source of omega-3, whose amazing benefits we already told you about, as well as vitamin E. Vitamin E protects your brain from oxidative stress, which causes it to function poorly. The best nuts for your brain are walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts, all of which make a great study session snack!
Onions are packed with a compound called fisetin that supports our long-term memory and has antioxidant properties. Eating more onions could even help reverse memory loss associated with aging, according to this study! Fisetin is also found in several of the other foods on this list: tomatoes, nuts, and strawberries.
A study showed that eating more green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and other leafy greens could make you less likely to experience mental decline, and might even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. They’re full of antioxidants thanks to the selenium they contain. So, make it your goal this week to eat a hearty salad loaded with these 3 foods that fight memory loss!
What can I drink to improve my memory, besides plain water? The supreme antioxidant that is green tea wards off cholinesterase, a family of enzymes that has negative consequences on memory. One study showed that green tea improves our working memory. That’s the part of our short-term memory that lets us store and use information, for tasks that include processing language.
Eggs are another great food for brain health and memory. They contain a few different B vitamins, which have been shown to slow brain atrophy in people with cognitive impairment. They also are a good source of choline, a nutrient essential for healthy brain cell membranes and communication that is difficult to find in other foods.
Mirari explains how your memory works and how to improve it with simple tips that you can start practicing right away. Watch the video right here or over on our YouTube channel. Her tips are in English, but there are subtitles in 6 languages. To turn them on, or to slow down the playback speed, use the Settings button (⚙️) in the bottom right-hand corner of the player.
Want more language and memory tips? Join our growing YouTube community of over 170,000 learners to make sure you never miss a video!
If you liked these tips, check out our other articles related to memory and memorization:
- Memory: The Forgetting Curve
- 🧠 4 Ways to Create Mental Images that Improve Your Memorization [VIDEO]
- How Memory Palaces Work
- 5 Simple Ways to Memorize Vocabulary
- Tips on How to Memorize and Learn Difficult Information
Join the conversation—leave a comment below! If you’ve tried to improve your memory for language learning with lifestyle and food choices, tell us if it worked well for you. And if you have any other memory tips to share with our readers, we’d love to hear them.