Want to think faster, reason more soundly, and improve your memory retention and recollection? Putting healthy foods on your plate and exercising regularly are easy and effective places to start. These and other habits can have a positive impact on your cognitive health. Here’s a list of natural brain-boosting tips that will keep your brain performing optimally for many years to come.
Don’t Skip Breakfast in the Morning
We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — and it’s true. Researchers have confirmed that those who eat breakfast every morning tend to have better short-term memory and a longer attention span throughout the day. If you are a student or in a line of work that is mentally taxing, this tip is especially important for you. Just be sure to select healthy food items and limit your calories. Instead of a big pancake and bacon breakfast or a donut, opt for yogurt and fruit, a protein shake, or whole-wheat toast with an egg.
Eat Brain-Smart Foods
The things you eat either invigorate you and provide mental clarity, or put you in a brain fog. When selecting your meals for the day, look for food items that are high in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and other nutrients that can protect your brain from damaging oxidative stress. Some of these foods are listed below.
Nuts and oils
Your brain needs vitamin E, which is an antioxidant found in abundance in olive oil, avocados, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and almonds. These are essential for normal neurological function and protect the neurons in the brain, supporting communication between cells and boosting the immune system to fight off viruses.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, such as salmon, anchovies, and sardines, have been shown to support the healthy functioning of neurons in the brain. Numerous studies show evidence of omega-3s improving learning and memory and helping to ward off mental disorders, including depression.
Broccoli and dark, leafy greens such as spinach and kale, help to break down an amino acid called homocysteine. Studies show high levels of homocysteine are a risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia. Still, more research shows consuming just one daily serving of dark-green veggies high in phylloquinone, lutein, nitrate, folate, α-tocopherol (vitamin E), and kaempferol may help to slow cognitive decline.
Super low in calories but mighty high in antioxidants, garlic has been linked to reduced risk of dementia and heart disease. As a bonus, garlic can also help your body combat the common cold.
Blueberries and strawberries are believed to be the anti-aging darlings of the food world. In fact, results from a study on older adults suggest cognitive decline due to aging could be delayed by as much as two and a half years simply by eating more of these flavonoid-rich berries.
A heart-healthy diet loaded with whole grains, such as oatmeal and brown rice, could be your ticket to better memory retention and cognitive ability later in life. When scientists looked at people who regularly ate whole grains, they noticed that these people were consistently more likely to score higher on cognitive function tests.
Stretch Your Brain by Trying New Things
Your brain needs exercise just as much as your muscles do. When you aren’t improving, you are stagnating, so it’s important to set goals and make plans to expand your cognitive abilities. Brain exercise takes the form of trying new things that will challenge your cognitive ability, like learning a new game or skill, taking a class, learning a new language, trying out a new musical instrument, taking up a new hobby, and so on. These are excellent ways to boost your brain function and enjoy yourself at the same time.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is one of the factors to determine your brain performance. While you’re sleeping, your brain detoxifies itself and conducts maintenance to help you stay sharp during your waking hours. That’s why it’s important to give yourself six to eight hours of sleep each night. Short naps are also beneficial; during “power naps,” your brain gets a quick powerup that will help you through the rest of the day with better focus, enhanced motor skills, and improved mood.
Spend Time in Nature
Nature is inherently soothing and can help to alleviate the stress that wreaks havoc on your brain. Find time to walk in nature in your neighborhood, garden, or in a local park. The Japanese refer to walking in nature as “forest bathing” (shinrin-yuko) for its unique ability to improve mood, which is always good for brain health.
Make Time for Exercise
Did you know that exercise is not exclusively necessary for muscle fitness? Moderate exercise is powerful enough to keep your brain healthy, improve memory, reduce the risk of cognitive decline, and help you live longer. Better yet, it’s free — and all you need is a pair of sneakers.
You don’t have to go hard at the gym to get exercise. Simply walking outside every day is enough to help prevent brain shrinkage and other conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Walking plays an important role in boosting and supporting cognitive function and working memory by sparking the process that releases happiness hormones called endorphins.
According to Margaret Apostol, Medical Director at the LifeSeasons Medical Clinic, “Walking can increase endorphins, which increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The BDNF protein aids in the development of neurons that help with cognitive function.” Dr. Apostol suggests walking after meals. “After a meal, blood sugar spikes naturally. These spikes can cause an increase in beta-amyloid plaque in the brain if left unchecked. Walking for 10 to 20 minutes after eating a meal can help stabilize blood sugars.”
Take Natural Supplements
If you are deficient in a particular vitamin or mineral, or simply find it difficult to incorporate all the foods into your diet that your brain needs on a daily basis, natural supplements like Clari-T, Neuro-T, and Energy can give you the natural boost you need. Many contain the key ingredients that boost cognitive function, including Vitamin B, Vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and zinc. For further reading on natural brain health supplements, check out our post on the 6 Natural Nootropic Ingredients that Support Brain Health.