Cityline – 6 tricks to enhance your brain health

14 Oct 2017 • CityLine

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Do you misplace your keys, regularly miss appointments, forget the names of people you know well, or feel like those brain games advertised everywhere are probably your next purchase? Here are some brain healthy tips grounded in science…

1) Grey Matters:

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Reading relieves tension & stress (brain-cell killers) because it’s a form of escapism. Research has also shown that using your imagination is a great way to train your brain because you force your mind to ‘picture’ what you are imagining. Reading is a great way to trigger your imagination! Science also supports reading to learn a new language. Even if you don’t retain the language, the exercise itself improves memory. 

Learn something new

One of the simplest methods to boost your brain function is to keep on learning. The size and structure of neurons and the connections between them change as you learn. This can take on many forms above and beyond book learning to include activities like traveling, learning to play a musical instrument, a talent like juggling, or participating in social and community activities. Being social is key! 

Cerebral exercise 

Brain aerobics. As with learning, challenging your brain with mind-training exercises can keep your brain fit as you age. This can be something as simple as thinking of famous people whose first names begin with the letter A, doing crossword puzzles or playing board games that get you thinking. Research has even shown that surfing the Web activates regions in your brain related to decision-making and complex reasoning. Unlike passively watching TV, using the Internet is an engaging task that may actually help to improve your brainpower. So that you’re being “mindful” about the exercise, establish a plan like: learn everything about the planet Saturn, global warming, or how plants work. 

 

2) Memory Genes

 

The Alzheimer’s Gene

APOE: The e4 version of the APOE gene increases an individual’s risk for developing late-onset Alzheimer disease. People who inherit one copy of the APOE e4 allele have an increased chance of developing the disease; those who inherit two copies of the allele are at even greater risk. The APOE e4 allele may also be associated with an earlier onset of memory loss and other symptoms.

The “Drama Queen” Gene

ADRA2b: People really DO see the world differently. Carriers of a certain genetic variation of ADRA2b perceive and remember positive and negative thoughts more vividly and more easily. 

Post-Concussion Gene

BDNF: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor acts on certain neurons of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, helping to support the survival of existing neurons, and encourage the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses. In the brain, it is active in the hippocampus, cortex, and basal forebrain—areas vital to learning, memory, and higher thinking

 For more information, please check out Youtrients at www.youtrients.me 

3) Nutrients for your Noodle

Our diets have a HUGE impact on brain function. Our brains consume over 20% of all nutrients & oxygen that we consume – so remember to feed your brain with the good stuff! (i.e. fresh fruit and veg & plenty of OMEGA 3 oils found in oily fish). We are all “fat heads” and our brains need good fat and antioxidant protection to function optimally.

Walnuts (great source of fat)

It turns out that eating walnuts can keep you from going nuts. Just munching on a few walnuts, a day can improve your cognitive health. Their omega3 content and high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals improve memory and mental alertness. The vitamin E in the nuts has also been shown to help ward off Alzheimer’s disease.

Rosemary (great source of antioxidants) 

We already knew that rosemary oil has a variety of benefits, but did you know that the herb does, too? Carnosic acid, one of the main ingredients in rosemary, helps protect the brain from neurodegeneration. It does this by protecting the brain against chemical free radicals, which are linked to neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s, strokes and normal aging in the brain. 

Beets (increases blood flow to the brain)

The natural nitrates in beets boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance and memory. In fact, during tough workouts, beets also help boost energy and performance levels which also improves our mental function.

 

4) Mindfulness

The brain loves to be mindful – a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly and acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. This improves recall and long term memory.

 

5) The Second Brain

 Your gut is your “second brain,” and your gut bacteria transmits information to your brain via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem into your enteric nervous system (the nervous system of your gastrointestinal tract). There is a close connection between abnormal gut flora and abnormal brain development, and just as you have neurons in your brain, you also have neurons in your gut — including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is also found in your brain and is linked to mood. Making certain your diet has ample soluble fibre is key. This serves as food for the probiotic or “good bacteria”. Supplementing with the right types of probiotics are also key.

6) Sleep

Sleep is not only essential for regenerating your physical body, but it is imperative for reaching new mental insights and being able to see new creative solutions to old problems. Sleep removes the blinders and helps “reset” your brain to look at problems from a different perspective, which is crucial to creativity.

Research from Harvard indicates that people are 33 percent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas after sleeping, but few realize that their performance has improved. Sleep is also known to enhance your memories and help you “practice” and improve your performance of challenging skills. In fact, a single night of sleeping only four to six hours can impact your ability to think clearly the next day. 

 

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