Boost brainpower and stay sharp: What really works?

Many of us are shopping for ways to boost memory with everything from superfoods and supplements to online games. But what really works to preserve and even enhance your thinking skills? Consumer Reports digs into the latest research on how to stay sharp.

Who doesn’t want a little more brain power these days? Many of us are looking for ways to boost memory with everything from superfoods and supplements to online games. But what really works to preserve—and even enhance—thinking skills? Consumer Reports digs into the latest research on how to stay sharp.

In a recent survey by CR, 1 out of 3 respondents said they noticed signs of forgetfulness significant enough to worry them.

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There’s obviously a big difference between forgetfulness and dementia. Some memory issues are caused by a lack of sleep, stress, or just normal aging.

Maybe you’re considering one of the many dietary supplements sold as brain boosters.

Maybe you’re considering one of the many dietary supplements sold as brain boosters. (Provided by Consumer Reports)

While there’s some research that shows omega-3 fatty acid supplements may be worthwhile for those with a family history of dementia, the majority of memory supplements offer no benefit to most people.

And what’s worse, research has found unapproved drugs in some supplements, potentially posing a health risk. So it’s important to talk with your doctor before using them.

What about the brain-training games or programs sold as a way to sharpen your thinking skills? Things like learning to paint or listening to an educational podcast can help. The same goes for physical activities like tai chi, yoga, and dance. Practicing the unfamiliar moves helps your brain create new neural pathways, and that’s especially true if you spend time learning a new skill with friends.

As with most aspects of living a long, higher-quality life, overall wellness—things like eating healthy and staying fit—can help reduce brain-disease risk and maintain cognitive strength for years to come.

It’s always good to talk with your doctor about memory and cognitive issues so you can be properly screened for any serious medical conditions.