We gain a lot as we age: wealth, money, children, love but an improved brainpower is not one of them. Most of us have trouble remembering our own mobile numbers, PIN codes at the ATM and sometimes even what we talked about just a few minutes ago. Your brain power degenerates as you age and unfortunately, brain cells cannot be replaced as they die. Your brain begins to act like a strainer, as life keeps pouring in more and more events to commit to memory, you remember less and less of it.
However, there is good news to this, while you may not be able to reverse the death of your brain cells, you can very well increase their lifespan and thus, prevent your memory from becoming weak. The best way to boost your brain power is by not taking it for granted – pay attention to your brain as you pay attention to your skin and weight and the latest trends.
1. Pump up your heart
By this we do not mean that you have to administer an AED to literally allow your heart to pump, as a matter of fact, it is pumping 24/7, for as long as you live. Your heart is an organ that keeps you alive by pumping blood to all the regions of your body, including your brain. As you age, your neurons or brain cells begin to diminish and the neurotransmitters that allow communication between the brain and the tissues and organs of your body begin to drain away.
Brain cells do not reproduce and they cannot be replaced either, therefore, to improve the functioning of the brain you must do something that would excite your heart, allow it to pump faster and thus, increase blood flow to your brain. That’s right; you must exercise to sharpen your mind.
Studies show that the brain volume shows a noticeable increase after fitness training and thus, improves shot-term memory and mental concentration by 10 to 15 %! Just walking for 30 minutes, thrice a week will show considerable improvement in your brain power.
The best way to improve your brain power through exercise is by dancing. There aren’t many activities that produce the same brain-related benefits like dance does, studies show. Many of you might not have realized that dancing involves many major aspects of your mind power i.e. coordination, planning, organization and judgment—just like martial arts training.
Dance allows you to synchronize your movements with the beat, allowing you to move your body parts simultaneously – thus making it the best brain exercise for everyone. You can also shed some extra pounds as an added bonus!
2. Get rid of back pain for a happier brain
There are many reasons that may contribute to back pain such as carrying your shoulder bag for hours, carrying your toddler and worst of all, overworking and stressing. Studies show that people, who suffer from chronic back pain, lose about 1.5 cubic centimeters of the brains grey matter every year.
The lateral prefrontal cortex is the region of the brain that deals with stress, therefore, the more you stress yourself, your body and your back, the more you deplete this region of the brain and thus cause nervous breakdowns that allow you to make foolish impulsive decisions due to too much stress.
In order to get rid of back pain, you must exercise to build muscle in your abdominals and your lower back. One exercise technique that will give you effective results is the reverse trunk curl in which you have to lie flat on your exercise mat or on the floor, place your hands under the chin and lift your chest 3-6 inches off the ground.
If you have a huge list of things to do, instead of cramming in some more work, do them one at a time, one task after the other. You can change a task within an hour and make sure there is a switch from one work to another. If you cannot finish a task within an hour, leave it and do something else, find time for it the next day to complete.
Changing tasks can not only boost your brainpower but make work feel less tedious as well, and you will realize that you are working at a more efficient pace. Engaging different parts of your brain will improve your concentration level and keep you more alert.
4. Have breakfast
What better breakfast can a person have than an egg? It is true that eggs have immense superpowers when it comes to preserving your brainpower as they are packed with B vitamins, which help your nerve cells convert glucose to energy. Moreover, eggs also contain antioxidants which protect the brain cells from damage, plus they also contain omega 3 fatty acids that fire up the nerve cells to work at their optimum levels.
Along with eggs, choose lean proteins, fruits and vegetables for breakfast instead of trans fat varieties and sugary syrups that damage cells and diminish brain power.
5. Drink water… for your brain
We all know that water keeps us hydrated so that we aren’t victims of bad/dry skin and bloating, but did you know that drinking plenty of fluids including juices and water will reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease? Studies show that people who drink more than three glasses of vegetable or fruit juice per week reduce their chances of suffering from major cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease by a whopping 76%!
Moreover, fruits and vegetables are rich in polyphenols (antioxidants) that protect the brain cells from damage and free radicals that arise due to the disease.
80% of your brain is water; therefore, having more than 8 glasses of water per day will benefit your brain immensely.
6. Laugh, laugh and laugh!
They weren’t kidding when they said that laughter is the best medicine. Laughter does not only reduce stress but reverses mental aging as well. Indulging in some good laughter will reduce the stress hormones such as cortisol by 39% and epinephrine by 70%, researchers say.
Laughter is not only the best medicine for the brain, it also benefits the heart. A study showed that people who watched stressful, tragic films experienced vasoconstriction or constriction of their blood vessels, in contrast to those who watched funny movies and dilated their blood vessels by 22%. Vasodilatation allows more blood to flow to the brain and thus, improves its activity. So take some timeout, watch some funny videos on the internet and L-O-L!
7. Learn a new language
Studies show that monolingual people are more likely to suffer from major cognitive conditions than bilingual people. Chewing on a croissant and learning how order a croissant in French, are two tasks that will affect the brain in different ways. Our grey matter plays an important role in stimulating us to perform easy tasks and difficult tasks as well. In order to exercise your mind, you must also pick the latter and boost your brainpower.
There are hundreds of languages to choose from but you will benefit most by learning a language that will be of use to you in the future. Most people choose to learn Spanish as it is a language they will encounter the most in their lives. Join a foreign language class, a foreign language community at college or look for classes online. Learning a language that is not your native tongue will increase your grey matter density and improve your memory as well.
8. Get plenty of rest
It is important that you allow your schedule to include at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep so that you improve your health from head to toe. Studies show that things you commit to memory only accommodate themselves completely in your brain while you sleep – this is an important note to all those last-minute crammers who study overnight for their exams.
People who sleep for more than 7 hours show better brain functionality than those who sleep less due to work, studies or entertainment.
9. Say no to TV
Studies show that for each added hour a person — of age 40-59 — spends on watching TV every day, the chances of Alzheimer’s increases by 1.3%. This is one reason why aging women exhibit more enhanced brainpower than men of the same age. Many women prefer other means of entertainment such as shopping. Shopping utilizes more brain power and physical activity than watching a game on TV.
Keeping yourself physically and mentally active while performing ‘moving’ tasks is the key to boost brain power. Your brain is stagnant while you watch TV. If you are not a fan of shopping, consider reading. Reading involves storing information into your brain and recalling it – this is one of the best brain exercises you can perform so join a book club or shop for a book.
10. Drink green tea
Studies show that people who drink more than five cups of green tea per day decrease their chances of developing psychological problems by 20%. Moreover, green tea also makes an excellent weight loss beverage, which is another thing you have to consider if you want to improve your brain function.
Slimming down will not only make you look good and feel good in figure hugging dresses, it will also sharpen your mind and reduce your chances of suffering from major cognitive illnesses in your later years. Therefore, make sure your BMI is less than 25 as the extra fat leads to the release of chemicals that affects the temporal lobe of the brain – the main target of Alzheimer’s disease.