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Put your memory to work: Secrets of success from the USA Memory Champion

Everyone uses their memory at some point during their work day. Whether you are a teacher, stay-at-home mom, medical professional, skilled laborer, restaurant server, or specialize in another craft, your hippocampus – the part of the brain that supports short-term memory – is critical for remembering important appointments, names and even where you parked your car.

A recent survey conducted by NMI Research and DSM Nutritional Products found that 84 percent of more than 1,000 respondents ranked “memory” as being the most important occupational skill. Other top ranking skills include problem solving (85 percent) and organizational skills (87 percent).

Nelson Dellis, 28, the two-time USA Memory Champion, works as a memory consultant by day. Dellis went on to win the 2012 USA Memory Championship after memorizing and recalling 303 random digits in less than five minutes.

“Many people ask me what’s the secret to memorizing random names, faces, numbers, shopping lists, among many other things,” says Dellis. “I’m not super human; I’m a typical everyday guy who incorporates the right mix of lifestyle factors to help support my brain and memory health. These lifestyle factors include giving my memory a workout, eating brain-healthy foods and exercising.”

Dellis has a few secrets to his success, which can be easily incorporated into your daily routine to help support the health of your hippocampus.

Tip 1: Exercise your hippocampus. Engage in brain-stimulating activities, including reading, creating art, completing crosswords, learning a new language or playing a new instrument. Or, start training to be a mental athlete in next year’s USA Memory Championship.

Tip 2: Focus and make it interesting. When trying to remember a person’s name, associate their name with an image. Be sure to make the image interesting and visualize the image on the person’s shoulder or on the top of their head. The more outrageous the image, the better chance you’ll remember their name.

Tip 3: Eat a brain-healthy diet. Foods rich in DHA omega-3 help support overall brain health and memory function. Try eating DHA-rich fish (salmon, trout, tuna) or, if you’re vegetarian or want a sustainable source of DHA, try algal DHA-fortified foods and beverages or an algal DHA supplement. Look for the life’sDHA logo on the packaging.

Tip 4: Give your body a workout. Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day to encourage new brain cells and connections to form. Dellis exercises regularly and is preparing to climb Mount Everest in early 2013.

To learn more about the USA Memory Championship, held annually in New York City, visit www.usamemorychampionship.com.

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