Great Ways to Boost Your Brain Power
If you’re always forgetting facts and figures or you can never remember names and dates, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can improve your memory in almost no time at all. You don’t need to spend hours studying complex chess strategies or trying to memorize the digits of pi – just a few small lifestyle changes are all that’s required.
When it comes to improving your cognitive abilities, relaxing with a group of friends probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But humans are inherently social creatures, and several scientific studies have shown that socializing helps to slow down age-related memory loss.
Laughter has been shown to improve the interconnectivity between different areas of the brain, and regularly socializing also makes you less prone to stress and depression.
Get plenty of sleep.
The average adult needs around eight hours of sleep per night to be fully mentally alert. However, most people don’t get enough sleep, and this can have serious negative effects on your problem solving abilities and critical thinking skills, not to mention your memory.
Your brain processes and stores new information during the part of the nightly sleep cycle known as ‘REM sleep’. When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s often the REM phase that your brain is forced to cut back on. This means that just an extra hour in bed every night is likely to bring huge benefits, including a greatly improved memory and generally heightened brainpower.
Avoid alcohol before bed.
Even if a nice glass of wine helps you to relax and fall asleep more easily, it will still lead to lower quality sleep with a smaller proportion of the all-important REM phase.
Alcohol also reduces your ability to concentrate and is known to destroy brain cells, all of which will result in a significantly reduced memory capacity in the long run.
Train your brain.
Just like a muscle, the brain needs to be challenged and stimulated on a regular basis in order to grow and improve. Fortunately you don’t need to puzzle over cryptic crosswords or solve tricky math problems if you don’t want to – brain training can be as simple as varying your routine! Even taking a different route home from work now and again can make a difference.
Any activity that breaks your normal routine will force your brain to make new connections and forge new neural pathways, which will in turn help your memory and give your brain a boost. This means that doing something new, fun and exciting can often double up as a brain training exercise. Variety is said to be the spice of life, and it happens to be great for your memory too!
The most important part of the brain for memory consolidation (moving information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory) is the hippocampus. Unfortunately chronic stress can irreversibly damage the hippocampus, harming your cognitive abilities.
Stress will also kill your brain cells over time, while chronic anxiety can have negative effects on your memory too. Meditation helps to relieve both stress and anxiety (as well as many other ailments), so regular meditation could be used to improve your memory.
Everyone knows that regular exercise is great for both your mental and physical health in a huge number of ways.
Your brain uses oxygen as fuel, so in order to process new information and recall facts and figures from the distant recesses of your mind, your brain needs as much oxygen as it can get. Exercise increases the blood flow to your brain, giving your memory skills and overall mental capacity a boost as more vital oxygen reaches your brain cells. Regular exercise also reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, both of which are linked to memory loss.
Eat brain food.
Certain foods are better than others when it comes to honing your mental abilities. Oily fish like mackerel and sardines contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids that are enormously beneficial for both the brain and the body as a whole. If you’re not a fan of seafood, then you can find plenty of omega-3 in other sources like spinach, walnuts and kidney beans.
Antioxidants are needed to protect your brain cells, so fruit, vegetables and green tea – all of which are high in antioxidants – are highly recommended by medical professionals. Red wine also contains antioxidants and drinking no more than a glass per day may well be beneficial – just don’t use it as a nightcap!
Foods that are particularly high in saturated fats should be avoided when possible, because they have been scientifically proven to impair your memory and harm your overall brainpower.
None of the tips on this list are very difficult to incorporate into your lifestyle, and it won’t take long before you start to notice the benefits. You’ll be remembering the things you always used to forget in no time at all!
Food and Drink: 5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Brain Power
Everything you eat has an effect on how you think, how you perform at work, how positive or negative you feel – on your entire life. Armed with the knowledge that your feelings and moods are in your own hands and not simply a reaction to external events, you can transform the way you think and act on a day-to-day basis.
In today’s fast-paced high tech world where everything has to be delivered instantly, it is difficult to keep up with the demands of a busy life. When tiredness takes over, brain power diminishes very quickly, so what can you do to give it a much-needed boost?
Increase your mental alertness with food and drink:
Protein maximises brain power and mental alertness, and by including some protein with every meal or snack you can reduce the soporific after-effects of eating carbohydrates.
In practical terms this could mean:
- Eating meat with your pasta
- Enjoying chicken on your bread roll
- Opting for good quality fish with your chips
Protein also keeps you feeling full for longer so there will be less likelihood of reaching for a chocolate bar when hit by the mid-afternoon slump.
Good sources of protein include lean chicken, turkey and ham, fish, and eggs.
Boron is a trace mineral that appears to have an effect on cognitive performance, including long-term and short-term memory, research suggests. A deficiency of boron can result in slower reaction times, memory impairment and a general lack of mental awareness.
Boron is present in many fruits, vegetables and nuts:
- Fruits, including apples, pears, peaches, and grapes
- Leafy vegetables
- Nuts, including almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and cashews
A great source of essential fatty acids (EFAs), oily fish such as salmon, kippers, pilchards and trout boost both memory and brain power. Results will not be noticed immediately, but if you regularly eat oily fish over a period of approximately 6 months, memory and mental alertness will improve. Eating a 150g portion of salmon each week provides the recommended amount, so it will not be too hard on your wallet either.
White fish, although still a good source of protein, contains lower levels of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is concentrated in the brain, so for specific brain boosting power it is better to choose an oily fish for lunch or dinner.
For a quick fix in the morning or afternoon, a cup of coffee should wake you up and increase alertness. More than a couple of cups of coffees a day is not recommended, however, as caffeine is addictive and can do more harm than good if drunk excessively. If you are not a coffee drinker, caffeine can also be found in regular tea, green tea, cola, and energy drinks.
Research has found that around 200 milligrams of caffeine in a mug of coffee is enough to boost brain power and mental alertness. This means that only 2 mugs a day, 1 in the morning and 1 mid-afternoon, are all that are required to improve performance and reduce fatigue.
Purely and simply the easiest way to boost brain power is by drinking enough water to stay hydrated. Sluggishness, tiredness, a foggy brain and slow reactions are all signs of dehydration, so just go the tap, drink a glass of water and then take another glassful back to sip at your desk.
It has been said that if you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated, so the best way to keep up hydration levels is to drink between 4 and 8 glasses regularly throughout the day. Also a mood enhancer, water is an easy choice for a quick brain booster if you have been deprived of sleep or just need a quick, healthy pick-me-up.
Some of these ideas not only have brain-boosting effects, they also offer several other health benefits. Try just 1 each week to see which works best for you and your lifestyle, or incorporate them all into your working week to have a quick and efficient brain that will be running on all cylinders.