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6 Things That Kill Your Memory and Secret Memory Enhancers

Memory is a marvel of human biology essential to mankind’s way of life and survival, but so complex that it is not yet fully understood. As a physiological process, the storing and retrieval of information is imperfect and thus vulnerable to certain destructive forces (or memory killers). These forces can be both internal and external, and can effect any area of the memory: sensory, short-term or long-term.

The following are just a few memory killers to avoid if you want to help your brain function at its best.
1. Smoking
Although most are unaware of the fact, smoking cigarettes is a memory killer. Several studies have indicated that smokers, particularly middle-aged and elderly, show increased decline in both memory and general cognitive ability in comparison to non-smokers. Though it’s sometimes difficult to count out other factors of a smoker’s lifestyle that may be meddling with the mind, such as a lack of physical activity, the evidence against smoking still looks pretty convincing. Bottom line: Butt out! And lay off the marijuana too (if you value your short-term memory, that is).
You might be thinking right now: “But wait, doesn’t nicotine actually improve memory?” OK, while it’s true that the acute effects of nicotine actually improve certain areas of short-term memory (albeit only temporarily), the long-term effects of smoking over time are what cause mental decline.
2. Malnutrition
Like any finely tuned motor, your brain needs fuel, specifically glucose. If you’re short on fuel, you’ll be short on brain power. However, to most, this comes as no surprise; we’ve all felt that dense and foggy feeling when we’re overtired or overly hungry. Aside from general malnutrition, however, a more serious disorder results in those individuals short on thiamine (vitamin B1): Korsakoff’s syndrome. Caused most often by chronic alcoholism or malnutrition, Korsakoff’s syndrome can lead to severe retrogade and anterograde amnesia including confabulation (a fabulous word that describes a situation where invented memories are regarded as true due to gaps in memory from blackouts).
3. Herpes
Herpes is just one of several health conditions or disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke or depression) that can be real memory killers. While most cases of herpes won’t make you forget the name of your coworker or where you left your keys, a more serious form of infection known as herpes simplex encephalitis can cause severe memory loss, sometimes as a first warning sign followed by a host of other deadly symptoms. Herpes encephalitis refers to an inflammation of the brain, and it’s one of the most severe infections of the human central nervous system. Thankfully, this scare is rather rare, arising only if and when the herpes virus finds its way to the human brain through nerves of the face.
4. Binge Drinking
In more ways than one, your college days come back to haunt you — this time as a memory killer. While it’s no big secret that one night of drinking causes acute memory loss (“blacking out,” as it is better known), binge drinking, on the other hand, appears to detriment everyday memory in young adults and may even have an increasing effect in later adulthood. Although longer study and follow-up is needed to fully understand the details, the message is still pretty clear: If you drink, don’t binge.
5. Hypnosis
Things done under hypnosis tend to be forgotten. It’s really as simple as that. This phenomenon is known as post-hypnotic amnesia, and it is said to only occur in individuals who are preconditioned to the idea that they will forget all events that occur under hypnosis. The effect, however, is only temporary, as most events can be recalled once a specific cue is given. Conversely, hypnosis can sometimes be used to retrieve memories for individuals who are in need of exposing a repressed or forgotten memory. Whether you view hypnosis as hocus-pocus, the fact is that someday soon the technology may exist to tap into the brain and retrieve memories without the need for hypnosis.
6. Stressful Event
The whole foundation of psychoanalysis rests on the idea that when something shocking happens, the mind grabs hold of the memory and forces it to inaccessible corners. While there’s no denying that stressful events can lead to memory repression, it’s the idea that a repressed memory is authentic that has huge implications, particularly legal ones. In fact, memory repression is so hotly disputed that the American Psychology Association currently contends that it is not possible to distinguish a repressed memory from a fake memory without some form of corroborating evidence.

Secret Memory Enhancers:
Better Man in brief …

  • As the population ages, memory loss becomes a major problem.
  • A healthy lifestyle helps retain memory.
  • With no cures for Alzheimer’s or dementia, memory enhancers can be lifesavers.

“Believe it or not, chewing gum can actually improve alertness and memory.

Today’s population is aging — that ‘s no secret. But the extent of this aging is so profound that it’s almost unbelievable. In 2008, there were 500 million people aged 65 or older, which accounts for about 7% of the world’s population. By 2040, that number will hit 1.3 billion, which will account for 14% of the total population. While these numbers are staggering, what will make this population shift actually frightening is the associated increase of dementia.  Now, that’s something to really worry about.

Although researchers are hoping to find cures for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, most folks will be left to fend for themselves. So, to keep your mind and memory sharper than the rest, here’s list of secret memory enhancers. Be sure to keep these to yourself.


Believe it or not, chewing gum can actually improve alertness and memory well, maybe. At least that’s the conclusion that two medical studies reported in the journal Appetite back in 2002 and 2004, respectively. In these studies, individuals who chewed gum during the learning phases of a specific test recalled test items better than those who did not. Although the exact reasoning behind why gum would enhance memory isn’t yet clear, one simple explanation said that chewing gum increases heart rate, which subsequently increases blood flow to the brain.

What this means for you and your memory: Before you go out and spend your life’s savings on boxes of supposed life-saving secret memory enhancers in the form of spearmint gum, you should know that the jury is still out on this one. Despite those past promising results, more recent studies have failed to find a similar link between chewing gum and memory enhancement, although these newer studies still maintain that chewing increases alertness (no wonder ball players love the stuff so much).


Men may be more active than their female counterparts, but that still doesn’t mean they get enough exercise. Granted, most men are probably sick and tired of hearing about just how great and beneficial daily exercise can be, but it’s time to chalk up another benefit of regular exercise. A slew of research over the past decade has shown that exercise can be a secret memory enhancer. In fact, just cutting calories may help you remember where you left your keys. According to a 2008 study in the journal PNAS, eating a calorie-restricted diet had beneficial effects on memory performance in healthy elderly subjects.

What this means for you and your memory: Toss out the cheeseburger and fries, and get outside and get moving. Bike to work, take the stairs or walk to the store. Even simple exercise is a better secret memory enhancer than none at all. Better yet, it’s free.


As one of the most hotly contested food items, caffeine has strong backers on both sides of the health debate. Some swear by its benefits while others vilify caffeine for its unhealthy effects. But almost no one can argue the effect of caffeine on alertness (and, consequently, memory). According to various studies conducted in the last five years, caffeine boosts short-term memory, protects older women against memory loss and may even reverse Alzheimer’s memory loss (at least in mice).

We have a few more secret memory enhancers we’re going to share…

What this means for you and your memory: Before you slam back a venti latte in hopes of treating your brain to long lost memories, keep in mind that caffeine can have a negative health impact, as well. Stay on the safe side by drinking in moderation.

Daytime naps

Our next secret memory enhancer might actually contradict the last. After all, it’ll be hard to catch a little daytime shut-eye if you’re all hopped up on java beans. If you’re into daydreaming, you’ll be happy to know that science strongly supports the idea that daytime napping improves your declarative memory. That’s the memory you use to store facts (for example, the memory used when cramming for a final exam).

What this means for you and your memory: If you’ve been cramming hard all day, don’t be afraid to catch a couple of quick Zs — but be sure to keep your nap no longer than 45 minutes to avoid hitting deep REM sleep, or all benefits might be undone.


Rounding off our list of secret memory enhancers is alcohol, a substance that men are probably familiar with. Although this list is sounding more and more like justification for a bunch of bad habits, alcohol — make that moderate levels of alcohol — may actually enhance memory. Recent research has found that having a daily drink or two may improve memory and may even help prevent dementia. Higher levels of alcohol, however, may actually impair memories or may even reinforce negative ones (so the old act of “drinking to forget” may not hold true).

What this means for you and your memory: Stick to one or two glasses of wine or one drink of liquor a day, at most, and you’ll stay on the safe side. Anything beyond that will likely do more harm than good.

secret no more

Who would have thought that some of our most familiar habits may in fact be mending our memory? Although the secret’s now out, remember not to overindulge. Everything in moderation.

By Jacob Franek for Fox News

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