Loosing marbles need to be an inevitable symptom of getting older, instead discover regular exorcise, eating right and reducing stress can boost you brain.
Are you continually losing your keys or misplacing your sunglasses while other people seem to have no problem at all? Do you enter a room and completely forget why you’re there? Do you find it difficult to remember names, dates, phone numbers?
Mental sharpness and memory retention is partly genetic and can be affected by age but it’s also heavily influenced by how you use your brain. “Although there is undoubtedly some aspects of mental functioning that do drop off with age, the brain is a remarkably plastic organ that can develop new nerve connections and strengthen existing communication pathways at virtually any age,” says anti-ageing specialists.
Contrary to the long-held belief, the brain is capable of growing new cells. And the ageing brain is adaptable. A task that may have used only one side of the brain when younger can begin to use both sides of the brain for the same process.
“Using our brains is likely to increase the number and effectiveness of neurons,” Those who continue to challenge themselves intellectually are likely to be those who maintain the capacity to do so.”
Deteriorating brain power doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of ageing. It’s more that the brain is susceptible to outside influences, including negative factors such as poor nutrition,
bad circulation, an inactive lifestyle and stress. But the brain is just as susceptible to positive factors, of which there are many.
Regular exercise is essential for a healthy brain as well as a healthy body. “Exercise floods your brain with oxygen and other nutrients that keep your memory pathways well oiled,” “Those who exercise regularly improve their memory skills and general level of mental performance far more than those who lead sedentary lives”. Another way of getting all the amino acids and Omega 3, 6 & 9 is through Organic Acai Australia.
Landmark research conducted by the University of Ottawa and the Division of Aging and Seniors, Health Canada also found that regular exercise could dramatically preserve brain function and significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“Joggers are doing far more than merely burning calories and improving their cardiovascular function,” “They are improving their minds as well, just as if they were reading a volume of Aristotle.” Exercise stimulates blood circulation throughout the body, as well as the brain.
“Decreased blood flow results in decreased metabolism of the oxygen and glucose so important in providing for the brain’s enormous energy needs,”
Exercise has an important stimulating and energising effect on the brain. But it also has a calming effect, reducing depression, anxiety and stress levels and promotes better sleep, and with that comes brain rejuvenation.
Exercising the mind When it comes to getting the most from your brain the old cliche ‘use it or lose it’ is true. The more we stimulate the brain and challenge it with a variety of different intellectual tasks, the better it will perform now and the less chance we will have of developing dementia later in life.
“When it comes to boosting brain power, the key point you need to understand is that you have to actively engage in intellectual pursuits that challenge your mind,”
Research conducted at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney found that high mental activity levels could reduce the risk of dementia by as much as 46 per cent compared to people who had low activity levels.
“Scientists have discovered that cutting down on mental stimulation causes certain aspects of both cognitive functioning and brain structures to stall or go into reverse,” says author of 100 Simple Things You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer’s.
“The more mental activity, the more your brain thrives and grows. If you do one or two mental activities a day, up it to three or four or more.”
If you enjoy an intellectually stimulating workplace you are extremely lucky. If your work is more routine, it’s more important to include stimulating mental activities in your day. Crosswords, sodoku, cards or Scrabble are all excellent ways of stretching the brain.
You may also like to consider taking a part time course, learning a language or a musical instrument, joining a reading group or starting a new hobby, where you’re forced to research and learn about something you know very little about.
Let go of stress Stress can severely affect thought processes, including your short and long term “Joggers are doing for more than merely burning calories. They are improving their minds as well” memory. Having an effective way to deal with stress when it inevitably comes along is crucial. “Stress is probably the single most destructive chemical force in people’s lives,
“Stress that is ongoing, unremitting and unresolved leads to a steady stream of the hormone cortisol, which can cause tissue damage, confusion and even dementia.
“Persistently elevated levels of cortisol have an inhibitory effect on learning and memory. This effect is most strikingly demonstrated on that part of the brain primarily responsible for memory, namely the hippocampus.”
Aerobic exercise, which releases ‘feel good’ endorphins, is an excellent way of relieving stress. So too is practicing a relaxation technique, such as meditation or yoga, which you can use on a regular basis and which you can draw on in times of extreme stress or anxiety.
Having a good laugh is also a great stress reliever. Laughing pushes more air into the blood stream and improves circulation. It is especially important to learn to laugh at yourself. Those who do so generally have fewer emotional problems and a healthier mental state.
Your diet can have a big impact on brain function. “To protect your brain cells and boost your memory you have to consume an antioxidantrich diet similar to the one that enhances cardiovascular health,” “Lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish will provide you with the necessary platform for optimal mind power”
Essential fatty acids, found in oily fish, flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables and walnuts, are particularly important for healthy brain function as well as reducing your chances of suffering from depression.
Another important brain nutrient is choline, found in high levels in lecithin but also in soy beans, liver and egg yolk. The body converts choline into acetylcholine, vital for the flow of nerve impulses. It produces a certain amount of choline naturally but this declines with age.
Probably the most important ingredient for a healthy brain is water. You need to drink plenty of water – seven to eight glasses a day, or more if exercising – in order to keep your brain hydrated and alert.
Alcohol, on the other hand, should be kept to a minimum but a little can be beneficial. While too much alcohol certainly has a detrimental effect on the brain, one glass of red wine a day can actually protect the brain from harm as it ages.
“If you are not a wine drinker, don’t start Just in hope of protecting your brain,” “You can get similar antioxidants by drinking lots of Concord (purple) grape juice or blueberry juice.”
So next time you lose your keys or forget why you’ve entered a room, take heed as it’s not too late to improve your mental sharpness. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and frequent mental ‘workouts’ will help boost your brain power and improve your health.
Learn something new
- a language, a musical instrument or take a part time course.
Play mind games – do crosswords, sodoku and other word and number games.
Read and write regularly.
Learn to speed read.
Learn three new words from the dictionary every week and use them.
When you find words you don’t understand, look them up.
Where possible, do maths calculations in your
head rather than using a calculator.
De-stress by practising a relaxation therapy or getting a massage.
Minimise alcohol and don’t smoke.
Eat fish and drink plenty of water.
About the author: Glenn McFinn is a Nutrition expert who writes for Infinity Store Australia Magazine.