10 Habits to Give Your Brain a Natural Boost
When we make our health and fitness goals, there’s one crucial body part that it can be easy to overlook: the brain. Fortunately, we may not be overlooking it for much longer. Following a wave of recent studies, scientific interest in brain health has skyrocketed, earning it a place as one of the most popular health and wellness goals last year.
If you’re unsure of what steps to take to improve your brain health, and sharpen functioning and quickness, we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at what experts tell us are the top 10 ways to boost our brain, memory, and mindset, completely naturally.
Top 10 Ways to Boost Brain Health
Increase Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Much of the same nutrition that best fuels the body also helps brain detoxification and promotes other aspects of brain health. One of the best ways to boost brain health with nutrition is to increase your consumption of omega 3 fatty acids. This is due to the fact that the brain is mostly fat, and you will need healthy fats to keep it running at its best.
A study published in Nutrition and Health found that increased levels of omega 3s correlated to greater levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF is a protein that supports the growth, development, and maintenance of brain cells. So choose foods rich in omega 3, such as healthy fish, nuts like almonds and walnuts, and seeds like chia, hemp, and flax seeds.
Eat More Eggs
One of the most controversial foods over the last several decades is the egg. A food that was once demonized is now a celebrated brain food. Eggs are a great source of protein and contain incredible brain-boosting minerals.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eggs are an excellent source of choline, a nutrient that has been shown to boost cognitive development and performance, especially memory. Choose pasture raised and organic eggs when possible and enjoy them any which way you fancy. However, don’t overdo it, as recent research suggests there are still some risks associated with too many eggs.
Grab a Controller
When you think of daily habits to improve memory and brain health, you probably don’t think about the latest Call of Duty game, but maybe you should. Playing a video game that requires a joystick or controller has been shown to improve brain health. Recent studies have highlighted the benefits of fast-paced video games on brain health.
A Psychological Bulletin found that subjects who played fast-paced games requiring quick decision-making had a greater ability to multi-task, and recognize changes in a spatial environment. Researchers concluded that video game players showed improved cognition when compared to non-gamers. So if you’ve been told that gaming was a waste of time, think again!
Get Your Solid ZZZ’s
Did you know that as many as 70 million Americans suffer from some type of sleep disorder that results in less overall sleep than they need each night? Not only does lack of sleep decrease mental and physical performance, it also has a negative impact on brain health and increases the risk of cognitive decline.
According to a study in a major sleep publication, getting at least seven hours of sleep each night is essential in maintaining good brain health — especially in the areas of learning and memory. So do your brain a favor and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Your body thrives on regularity and your mind is at its best when it feels well-rested. Refrain from consuming too much caffeine, and shut down electronics 1 or 2 hours before hitting the hay. Science also shows that a nice 20-minute warm shower taken 1 hour before bed will help you get to sleep and stay asleep longer. This is because the body sleeps better when it is cooled down (after it is heated from a relaxing shower). So take a shower and set your nightly reminder to get to bed at about the same time each night.
Challenging your body with bodyweight or resistance exercises like push-ups, squats, and barbell rows, can do more than burn fat and build muscle; it also boosts brain health.
A study in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry found that when subjects performed resistance training, levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor increased. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a minimum of the following each week:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, or
- 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise, or
- A combination of each
Be More Social
If you needed a reason to be more social and create positive memories with friends and family then this is it, because quality time with your favorite people is good for your brain. Quality in-person time provides more brain health benefits than text messages or chatting online.
According to a study in American Journal of Public Health, those relationships that have a positive impact on your life may help to protect against cognitive decline, especially memory loss.
Keep in mind that social activities don’t need to involve alcohol. In fact, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, excess alcohol consumption can prevent memory formation and recall.
Pick Up Another Language
If you’ve ever dreamed of being able to speak another language, this is a great reason to start learning; becoming fluent in another language can improve brain function.
According to a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, those who are fluent in two or more languages are at a lower risk of developing cognitive issues, including dementia or Alzheimer’s. So, make time to travel, immerse yourself in another culture, and get your brain some exercise!
Are you a fan of the Sunday crossword, Sudoku, or word games? If you’re naturally drawn toward puzzles, embrace it! Studies show that word and number puzzles can stimulate your brain and improve its performance over time. Plus, you can find lots of great puzzle games on your phone.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, subjects who made a puzzle a part of their daily routine had brains that seemed 10 years younger than their biological age. What’s more, they had better short-term memory. Try to get to brain games as much as you can!
Pick up that Guitar
If you’re looking for a reason to get the band back together, or learn to play an instrument for the first time, you have one! Playing an instrument is great for your brain health.
One study in Aging and Mental Health confirmed that subjects who learn an instrument and practice it daily have better cognitive skills including memory, executive functioning, and overall attention span. What’s more, playing an instrument may also help to decrease the risk of cognitive decline. Creating new brain cells is as easy as do-ray-me!
Brain Health: Start Small, Be Consistent
Like any healthy change, it’s okay to start small, but the trick is to be consistent. Forming a new positive habit for your brain health can take up to two months of doing it on a near daily basis. Choose one or two of the recommendations above, implement them into your routine, and once they’re habits, go back and do it again with some of the others. You should not only start seeing your mind becomes sharper over time, you will derive joy from doing things that help relax you and cultivate fun.