We all want a sharp brain, and today we will look at some ways to increase brain power. There are ten simple things we can start doing today to help keep our brains in top-notch shape.
1. Leading an active lifestyle and exercising regularly. Taking time to exercise regularly helps prevent memory problems. Studies by Dr. Henriette van Praag of the National Institute on Aging, show that exercise can even improve brain function of people with mild cognitive impairment. Taking a brisk walk, going for a swim, doing aerobics or my personal favourite yoga, are some of the exercises that can be included in your daily routine. No need to overdo it, just stay consistent with it.
2. Exercising and challenging your mind. An active brain stays sharp and continues to produces new connections between nerve cells. Studies have shown the benefits of solving crossword puzzles and other brain-teasers on a regular basis. While watching television, pick thought provoking information, basically anything on the Discovery channel, the History channel, or the science channel. Playing games like chess and reading books also have shown to be very helpful in keeping the brain sharp.
3. I think the most important in not only brain health, but also your overall health, is eating a healthy clean diet. That means a diet that is low is saturated fats, sugar, bleached white flour, and junk food and that is very high in fruits and veggies, will keep the brain healthy. Eating colourful fruits and veggies will also keep the body trim and help protect against life threatening diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
4. Managing and/or avoiding stress all together are very important. According to Dr. Oz, when we are stressed, our brain releases cortisol. This hormone in small amounts is normal and can be regulated by the body, but under constant stress this hormone can cause a depletion of energy storage, stress-induced hypertension, effects on metabolic process, ulcers, hampered growth, decrease in testosterone levels in males and irregular menstrual cycle in females, and worst of all increased likelihood in infectious diseases. Avoiding stress can be as easy as simplifying your life, and making time to be grateful for what you have. Other ways are using yoga, and meditation.
5. Getting enough restful sleep is essential in keeping the brain sharp and healthy. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between seven and nine hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Sleep enables the body and brain to heal and recharge. With enough restful sleep we are healthier, happier, can think more clearly and have better long-term memory as well.
6. Studies have shown that eating foods that are high in antioxidants help prevent and slow age-related declines in memory and learning. Blueberries, cranberries, dark grapes, and pomegranates as some of the best sources of antioxidants and adding them to your smoothies not only enhances the taste, but also your brain.
7. Adding essential omega 3-fatty acids in your diet will help protect the brain against age-related decline, while maintaining proper brain function throughout life. Fatty cold-water fish, like sardines, and tuna are some of the best omega-3 sources. For the vegans and vegetarians out, there walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds do nicely as well.
8. Talking and interacting with other people are very important. Having a social life keeps the brain active and sharpens thinking. Interacting with friends and loved ones helps maintain and/or alleviate stress. Studies show that spending as little as ten minutes talking with another person is as effective as mental exercises like solving crossword puzzles.
9. Staying away from unhealthy habits like smoking. According to the Mayo Clinic, smokers have twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The good news is people who have smoked for years can reduce their risk of memory problems just by quitting.
10. If you much drink, drink in moderation. According to Dr. Rosen (one of Dr. Oz’s colleagues), women can drink ½ -1 glass of wine (preferably red) and men can drink 1-2 glasses of wine every night. Anything more will cause issues to the liver, premature aging and shrinks the brain. Low amounts of red wine have shown to protect against heart disease, and cancer.
The good new is keeping the brain healthy is not complicated. Adding one or more of these step will help not only protect your brain but enhance it as well.