Boost Your Brain Power and Sharpen Your Mind
Do you feel like your brain is scrambled eggs? Or like your brain is surrounded by a thick fog?
At best, problems remembering or concentrating are simply annoying or frustrating.
At worst, they can be debilitating.
Scientists have studied the brain for centuries and are nowhere near to fully understanding its intricacies.
Brain cells work together in a network, organizing themselves into groups that specialize in different kinds of information processing.
The typical brain has about 100 trillion synapses, which are the points where nerve cells in the human brain connect with other cells.
As one brain cell sends signals to another, the synapse between the two get stronger.
Every time you recall a memory or have a new thought, you are creating a new connection in your brain.
Neurons have a high demand for energy because they’re always in a state of metabolic activity.
Even during sleep, neurons are still at work repairing.
Diet, in conjunction with environmental factors, has a crucial role in shaping brain cognitive capacity.
Although the brainpower differs from person to person, certain techniques can surely be adopted to improve your memory.
Scientist confirmed that the adult brain does carry cells which endow the capacity to regenerate.
These are classic “stem cells,” with the capacity to divide and make new cells which can go on to become any type of cell (nerve, glia, other) needed in the brain.
Common risk factors for the decline in brain performance are:
- Advanced age
- Family history (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s)
- Head trauma
- Reduced blood flow to the brain, stroke
- Ostrogen imbalance
- Emotional stress
- Alcohol abuse
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Heavy metal exposure (Aluminium, Mercury)
- Drug abuse
As the sensitive and highly complex organ it is, the brain needs this kind of nourishment to improve its functions.
Top Brain Nutrients
The human brain is the fattest organ in the body and may consists of at least 60% fat.
One of the most important nutrients for memory is the omega-3 fatty acids, which not only fight free radical damage but also help to create cell structure in the body and brain.
Omega-3 fish oil contains DHA and EPA, which stimulate brain function, helping to increase memory.
Australian study of 396 children showed that those who were given a drink with omega-3 fatty acids scored higher on memory tests after 6 months than those who did not take the drink.
It turns out that DHA, found in fish, becomes concentrated in the hippocampus, a memory center of the brain.
Researchers at the University of Alberta discovered that DHA improves communication between the cells in the hippocampus.
B vitamins are powerful assets for improving memory.
Because they help with the communication between the nervous system and the brain by manufacturing and releasing neurotransmitters, they provide an important stimulus for assisting concentration, awareness and memory.
Most particularly, B6 helps with the overall health of the brain, including memory retention.
B12 also is also responsible for repairing nerve fibers in the brain.
Vitamin B9, or folic acid, produces red blood cells, which contributes to mental clarity.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a major building block for nerve cells.
All the cells of the human body contain PS and rely on its presence for ATP production, ionic homeostasis, and cell-level activation and deactivation.
PS is particularly enriched in the membrane systems of nerve cells.
Extensive double-blind trials have established that PS consistently benefits memory, learning, concentration, word choice, and other measurable cognition parameters, as well as mood and the capacity to cope with stress.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) is a metabolic co-factor for the conversion of fatty acids into energy within the mitochondria of the nerve cells, thereby helping to keep them supplied with energy.
A number of double-blind clinical trials suggest ALC may have clinical significance in enhancing cognition and delaying dementia.
Magnesium promotes proper electrical and neurotransmitter function in the brain.
Optimal levels of this mineral are critical for energy production as well as enabling the vital functions of cellular DNA and RNA. Magnesium may support energy-generating functions that control storage and retrieval of memories.
Neuroscientists research shows that increasing brain magnesium enhanced learning abilities, working memory, and short- and long-term memory in rats.
Herbs for Brain Power
1. Ginkgo biloba extract (GbE) is the most clinically proven plant extract for the nutritional support of brain function.
Ginkgo biloba is high in flavonoids which contribute mainly free radical scavenging and other antioxidant effects.
The terpenes in Gingko, are antagonists of platelet-activating factor (PAF), which has myriad pro-inflammatory effects, including adverse effects on neuronal function.
There is consistent evidence from studies investigating mild cognitive impairment in young and elderly volunteers that Ginkgo improves selective attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility and long-term memory.
2. Bacopa (Bacopa monniera) is a popular Ayurvedic herb plant with specific cognition-enhancing benefits.
Bacopa has the capability to enhance nerve impulse transmission and thereby strengthen memory and general cognition.
It has many antioxidant properties that neutralize the body of free radicals and support the circulatory and nervous system, improving brain function. As an aromatherapy agent, rosemary can also decrease stress and improve memory and concentration.
Rhodiola is a herb traditionally used as a tonic, that improves mental and physical performance. In clinical studies, administration of Rhodiola produced significant improvement in mental fatigue and improved mental work quantity and quality.
Brain Boosting Diet
Just as the body needs fuel, so does the brain.
Our brain depends on proper hydration to function optimally.
Water provides essential energy to the brain, keeps the nerve signals going, delivers nutrients to the brain, and removes toxins. Keep your body well hydrated (at least 2L of filters water daily) to ensure optimum brain function.
Studies have shown that if you are only 1 percent dehydrated, you will likely have a 5 percent decrease in cognitive function.
If your brain drops 2 percent in body water, you may suffer from fuzzy short-term memory, experience problems with focusing, and have trouble with math computations.
Fish is a particularly rich source of omega-3, especially cold water “fatty fish” such as salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring.
Walnuts are an excellent source of Omega 3 and look a lot like the human brain.
The hard shell of a walnut is like a skull. The shape of the walnut itself represents the human brain’s two hemispheres.
The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative damage. Berries have been shown to have brain power benefits through a high antioxidant content.
Blueberries are known for improving motor skills and learning capacity while strawberries are rich in fisetin, a flavonoid that improves memory recall.
Green tea contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that protect against free radicals that can damage brain cells. Among many other benefits, regular consumption of green tea may enhance memory and mental alertness and slow brain aging.
Choose Complex Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates fuel your brain, but simple carbs (sugar, white bread, refined grains) give a quick boost followed by an equally rapid crash.
For energy that lasts, choose complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, lentils, and whole beans.
Limit calories and saturated fat.
Research shows that diets high in saturated fat increase your risk of dementia and impair concentration and memory. Eating too many calories in later life can also increase your risk of cognitive impairment.
Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast!
Your brain needs energy to function.
People who skip breakfast may end up eating more and making less healthy food choices throughout the day. When your energy is crashing and your brain is starving for fuel, downing a caramel latte or package of mini donuts suddenly seems unavoidable.
Eating regular meals and snacks spaced no more 3-4 hours apart helps regulate your blood sugar levels and therefore stabilises your moods and maintains energy levels, concentration and memory.
Lifestyle Tips for Top Brain Performance
An interesting discovery: Red improves concentration and memory, while Blue improves creativity.
Stress is one of the brain’s worst enemies. Over time, chronic stress destroys brain cells and damages the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in the formation of new memories and the retrieval of old ones.
Sleep Like a Baby and Take an Afternoon Nap
When you are deprived from sleep, your brain can’t operate at full capacity. Creativity, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking skills are compromised.
Whether you’re studying, working, or trying to juggle life’s many demands, sleep deprivation is a recipe for disaster.
Sleep that occurs in the latter half of a night’s sleep is responsible for strengthened learning ability.
During this stage of sleep, memories are transferred from short-term storage in the brain’s hippocampus to long-term storage in the prefrontal cortex. Sleep re-organizes and restructures memories, picking out the most important details.
A study at the University of Haifa’s Behavior and Brain Research Center found that a daytime nap enhances the overall level of performance in the brain.
When you take a nap your brain shifts down from the beta brainwave pattern to some deep alpha & theta patterns which have been proven to accelerate learning processes and improve long-term memory. Theta waves can literally bind memories in your brain for the long-term.
Exercise increases oxygen flow into the brain, and mental sharpness. It reduces gray-matter loss. Fit people show less of a decrease in gray matter than is normally seen with aging.
Exercise also increases the density and size of brain capillaries, which increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain. This may in turn help support the survival of new neurons and help your neurons fire more quickly.
A study in Neurology showed that exercise may help slow brain shrinkage in people with early Alzheimer’s disease. In the study, adults diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s who were less physically fit had four times more brain shrinkage than normal older adults.
A study from 2010 in the journal, Brain Research found an association between physical fitness and children’s brain power, too. On average, fit 9- and 10-year-old children had larger hippocampi and performed better on memory tests than their more sedentary peers.
Meditation has been known to increase IQ, relieve stress, and promote higher levels of brain functioning. It also activates the “prefrontal cortex” of the brain, an area responsible for advanced thinking ability and performance.
Meditation also increases the thickness of the cerebral cortex and encourages more connections between brain cells—all of which increases mental sharpness and memory ability.
Deep Breathing Exercises
10-15 minutes of deep breathing exercise a day increases oxygen levels and blood flow to the brain, relieves stress and the quality of your brain function.
Drink Alcohol in Moderation
Alcohol can produce detectable impairments in memory after only a few drinks and, as the amount of alcohol increases, so does the degree of impairment.
Long-term drinking can leave permanent damage, causing the brain to shrink and leading to deficiencies in the fibers that carry information between brain cells.
Live Drug-Free lifestyle
Major effect of various drugs on the brain is the actual deterioration of brain nerve cells.
Recreational drugs are known to degenerate gray matter, and thereby reduce the volume of some key brain regions. This loss can cause processing problems in many of the decision-making areas of the cortex as well as interfere with memory systems.
Do Crossword Puzzles
The challenge of completing crossword puzzles is definitely mentally invigorating and stimulating.
Memory is formed by associations, so if you want help remembering things, create associations for yourself.
Memories triggered by scent have a stronger emotional connection, therefore appear more intense than other memory triggers.
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