It is now known that our brain is affected by every single experience, thought and emotion. ‘Brain stimulation can increase neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to “rewire” itself) and neurogenesis (the formation of new nerve cells).’ (HuffingtonPost)
So how can we improve brain fitness? Although there is no specific prescription that should be followed by everyone, experts do give us an essential guide to brain optimization.
Exercise regularly. Amongst the hundreds of benefits or working out, there is one more; brain cell generation. Any kind of exercise, especially jogging, biking, lifting weights, jumping rope or aerobics, can increase the brain’s volume in its frontal and temporal areas. These areas are responsible for executive control such as planning and working memory.
Exercise will help increase your blood circulation, cope with stress, and overall mind and body performance. ‘Aerobic exercise can actually reverse age-related hippocampal volume loss (the hippocampus is known as the brain’s memory center). To date, no known drug has the ability to do that.’
Meditate and manage stress. Any form of anxiety and stress is mostly bad for you and your brain. Through meditation you can significantly lower levels of both stress and anxiety and get a brain boost in the process. Why don’t you try some Kirtan Kriya ? A very beneficial and well known type of meditation that takes just 12 minutes a day and has been proven to enhance health, and diminish symptoms of depression.
Avoid consuming too much sugar. Excessive sugar intake causes blood sugar fluctuation. This leads to insulin insensitivity which is known to be the many because of lack of energy to the brain. ‘Research indicates that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything.’ (Forbes)
Chronic added sugar consumption is indeed very bad for our general health and brain, leading to problems such as depression, obesity, and lack of stimulation to our brain.
Drink green tea or coffee. Studies has actually shown that green tea acts as a brain boost which enhances working memory too. It is a natural source of L-theanine, ‘a potent nootropic studied for its potential ability to reduce mental and physical stress without sedation, to improve cognition, and (working synergistically with caffeine) to boost mood and cognitive performance.’ (PsychologyToday)
Everything is moderation is not a problem and that goes for coffee also. Some studies have shown that coffee consumption lowers the risk of developing dementia later on in life and significantly reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Eat carbohydrates at night. ‘Complex carbs will relax your mind before going to sleep. Carbs boost serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter protein that is responsible for the feeling of well being and calming down.’ (DragonDoor)
Make sleep a priority. It is no wonder that ‘sleep’ made it to this list; what is remarkable, though, is how many people underestimate its necessity. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), emphasises the fact that not only sleep is vital for our nervous system to work properly, but also allows for growth and repair.
Stay connected. Increasing your positive experiences will give you an instant brain boost. Seek meaningful connections and interactions with people that offer you peace, relaxation and pleasurable feelings. Bill Conklin, Psy.D. said, “Enjoying pleasurable activities, doing something that seems to make time stand still, spending time with loved ones, pursuing meaning in its many forms, and celebrating accomplishments stimulate the activity in your left prefrontal cortex.”