Many people believe that a decline in mental acuity is merely a part of getting older. Yet, aging is not the only key turning factor to cognitive decline –– it is our lifestyle that plays a role of paramount importance. When we fail to follow a nutritious diet, a lack of sleep and exercise routine, constant stress, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol and environmental pollutants can all contribute to damaging our brain health. Fortunately, mental deterioration is reversible!
How can we invest in our brain health? The thing is, our brain is dynamic and has massive potential and the ability to transform at any point throughout our entire life’s journey.
In essence, you always have the power to boost your brain function, protect your brain from damage, and redress the effects of aging! That is, of course, if you’re mindfully willing to fuel the brain and fine-tune your everyday small yet impactful decisions.
Here are five tiny enhancements you can make that can lead to significant improvement in your brain health:
These fatty acids support brain plasticity, also known as neuroplasticity (brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience), which could then improve the expression of several molecules related to learning and memory.
Did you know that the deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in people linked to a heightened risk of disorders like dementia, depression, dyslexia, ADD (attention-deficit disorder), bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia?
Another large study pointed out that those who consumed more omega-3s had increased the volume of the brain’s gray matter, specifically in the hippocampus –– the region of our brain correlated with self- introspection, awareness, and compassion.
So if you wonder how to sharpen your mind, start with giving it the right brain food by getting more healthy fats.
If you’re not sure how to include these specific foods into your food regimen, you can look into and buy omega-3 supplements at your local health food store.
Drinking Green Tea ‘Could Be Linked to a Longer and Healthier Life,’ Study Suggests
Are you a fan of green tea? When it comes to improving brain health, consider green tea a miracle worker –– a super-rich source of nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants, green tea is recognized for its capability to protect our body from free radicals.
In one curious 2014 study, researchers worked with twelve healthy volunteers who consumed either a whey-based beverage that contained 27.5 grams of green tea extract or an analogous drink but without the green tea. Then all the participants worked on memory tasks while undergoing fMRI.
The results revealed that those people who got the green tea extract showed improved connectivity between the frontal cortex and the parietal part of the brain performing dramatically better on the tests.
Wait, What About Water?!
You are right; drinking water deserves a special mention because it is one of the best ways we can take care of our brain health.
Numerous studies proved that dehydration not only affects our physical wellbeing but also influences our mood and ability to think clearly.
Did you know that lack of water has been linked to reduced working memory capacity, decreased mental performance, and depression?
“The University of Connecticut study found that drinking water has a “significant impact” on alleviating depression and helping with concentration. It can also help with sleep disorders. In one of the studies, lead scientist Lawrence E. Armstrong, a professor of physiology in UConn’s Department of Kinesiology, found that when dehydrated, the subjects were more cranky and fatigued. Not drinking enough water can also cause headaches, sleepiness, and confusion – said Armstrong.”
It is important to drink two liters of water a day –– which is about eight glasses –– this is to stay hydrated and mentally alert. True, we get a lot of water from our food, so no, it is not all about buying bottled water. However, mild dehydration can be as little as five hundred milliliters that are equivalent to one small bottle of water.
Ergo, if your mind is feeling slightly sluggish and foggy, drink more water.
What We Eat and Drink Affects Our Brain Health Much More Than Most of Us Realize
What we choose to eat has an immense impact on how we think and feel.
While it’s probably not very wise to feel slightly obsessed over diet, it’s vital to understand the essential connection between food and our brain health.
“For example, extensive research had shown that children who ate breakfast before school exhibited better memory and acquisition skills while learning. Another big study found that people who kept healthier diet habits had a reduced risk of cognitive decline as they got older.”
Food is our fuel for the brain, as well as for the rest of our body.
“The brain is an energy-hungry organ. Despite comprising only 2 percent of the body’s weight, the brain gobbles up more than 20 percent of daily energy intake. Because the brain demands such high amounts of energy, the foods we consume greatly affect brain function, including everything from learning and memory to emotions.”
Some foods serve us as brain function boosters and proved time and again to improve brain health, protect against age-associated cognitive decline, and improve focus. Here are a few great things you may consider to double down on:
Nuts are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that improves short and long-term memory.
Broccoli is rich with vitamin K that enhances cognitive performance and bolsters brainpower.
Pumpkin seeds give our body zinc, which is critical for boosting thinking skills and memory.
Blueberries are great at supporting neuron-to-neuron communication in the brain and may help prevent memory loss.
Dark chocolate proved to increase attention and focus related brain characteristics.
Asparagus, leafy greens, olives, whole grains –– are full of vitamin E, which can help prevent cognitive decline, especially in older people.
When you include these brain health-boosting foods into your diet, you may be able to build brainpower in ways that you can’t from other strategies alone.
Sleep Is Essential to Our Brain Health
Sleep deficiency is terrible for our minds.
Prolonged sleep deprivation makes us less alert and leads to poor mental performance; sleep deficiency has similar effects on the mind, similar to being drunk! In other words, tiny amounts of sleep deprivation seem to have the same or worse effects to effects being over the legal alcohol limit for driving.
But does it mean we all need our eight hours of sleep, though? Not quite. We need different amounts of sleep to function, and we need less as we get older. There’s also extensive research suggesting that how we approach to sleep and think about it makes a massive difference to our mental performance.
Learn to listen to your mind. If you happen to feel like you’ve had enough sleep even if you only slept for six hours, don’t worry –– and if you haven’t, then try not to lose your sleep over it.
Learn more about sleep and its impact on our quality of life by deep diving into the works of Dr. Walker.
Physical Health and Fitness
Our general physical health influences our minds too. Chronic illness, pain, and undertoning exhaustion can all negatively affect how we feel and think, from foggy-headed tired feeling during the bout of flu to being distracted when you are in pain. That is why taking good care of your body is an excellent way to take care of your brain health.
There is a definite link between physical activity and cognitive performance.
Did you know that even the simplest forms of exercise can help the brain resist physical shrinkage, enhances cognitive flexibility, and sharpen the mind?
People that exercise daily enjoy healthier brains and perform significantly better on cognitive tests than those who are mainly sedentary.
But what if you hardly ever have time to include physical activity into your regular daily routine? Does this mean you are at a grave disadvantage? Not axiomatically.
Walking for 30 minutes four times a week, can stimulate your brain and enhance the connectivity of essential brain circuits, combat declines in brain function due to aging, and even increase cognitive skills.
Whether you are keen on gardening or a massive kickboxing lover, walking, or rock climbing –– any exercise of your choosing can be a fantastic mind-booster.
So, what boosts your brain health? Well, it’s a combination of various foods and activities. By creating and sustaining a healthy lifestyle, you improve your chance of retaining and sharpening your cognitive abilities.