Is it really possible to improve your memory? If you’ve ever found yourself forgetting where you left your keys or erasing information about important tests, you probably wished your memory was a little better. There are many things you can do to improve your memory.

1. Meditation

Meditation has been scientifically proven to increase focus and memory. You don’t have to use any one meditation to help your memory. Using any meditation, such as mindfulness meditation, teaches you to focus your mind. When you’re able to focus better, you’re also better able to solidify concepts in your short-term memory. Therefore, practicing meditation can help you to develop your short-term memory.

2. Proper Diet

Women in the study who ate the most saturated fats from foods such as red meat and butter performed worse on tests of thinking and memory than women who ate the lowest amounts of these fats. The connection is a little clearer when it comes to memory loss that’s related to blood vessel damage. The buildup of cholesterol plaques in brain blood vessels can damage brain tissue, either through small blockages that cause silent strokes, or a larger, more catastrophic stroke. Either way, brain cells are deprived of the oxygen-rich blood they need to function normally, which can compromise thinking and memory. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil help improve the health of blood vessels, reducing the risk for a memory-damaging stroke.

3. Avoid high calorie diets

Your brain is the most important organ in your body. It keeps your heart beating, lungs breathing and all the systems in your body functioning. Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat that can have an adverse effect on brain health. Although trans fats are naturally present in animal products like meat and dairy products, they are not a major concern. It is the industrially produced trans fats, also known as hydrogenated vegetable oils, that are the problem. These artificial trans fats can be found in shortening, margarine, frosting, snack foods, ready-made cakes, and prepackaged cookies. Studies have shown that when people consume higher amounts of trans fats, they tend to have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, poorer memory, lower brain volume, and cognitive decline.

4. Avoid Alcohal

Drunk in moderation, alcohol can be a pleasant addition to a good meal. However, excessive consumption can have serious effects on the brain. Chronic alcohol use leads to reduced brain size, metabolic changes, and disruption of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals the brain uses to communicate. People with alcoholism often have a vitamin B1 deficiency. This can lead to a brain disorder called Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which in turn can develop into Korsakoff syndrome. This syndrome is distinguished by severe damage to the brain, including memory loss, impaired vision, confusion, and instability. Excessive alcohol consumption can also have negative effects in nonalcoholics.

5. Exercise

Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.

Your diet certainly has a big impact on the health of your brain. Inflammatory diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and processed foods may contribute to impaired memory and learning, as well as increase the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Madness. Several other substances in food are also harmful to your brain. Alcohol can cause enormous damage to the brain when consumed in large amounts, while the mercury found in seafood can be neurotoxic and permanently damage the developing brain. However, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid all of these foods completely. In fact, certain foods like alcohol and fish also have health benefits. One of the best things you can do for your brain is to eat a diet rich in healthy, fresh whole foods.