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Top Ten Tips for Boosting the Brain and the Memory


Unfortunately, we are all getting older and, as this happens, small lapses in memory and other cognitive functions may become more common.

Whatever our age, there are simple steps to take to keep the brain healthy and boost our memory.

We share our top ten tips to this end... 

1.  Mental Exercises - when we practise mental exercises, we help to age-proof our brains.  Suggestions include brushing our teeth with the opposite hand to normal, reciting the alphabet backwards, memorizing our shopping list instead of writing it down or recording it on our phone and doing mental arithmetic in our head.  If we can incorporate brain training into our daily routine, it will help to keep our brain fit and agile. 

2.  Physical Exercises - of course we know that regular physical exercise will benefit many aspects of our health and wellbeing but it is good to read that the hippocampus (the brain's memory center) is one area where new neurons can be generated - and this genesis of new brain cells can be helped by exercise.  


3.  Cutting Down or Eliminating Sugar in your Diet - the problem with eating sugar is that blood sugar levels will rise as will insulin levels needed to help the body's cells to counteract the sugar.  High insulin levels can affect our memory while over time, any spikes in sugar and insulin can have a devastating affect on our daily memory function.

4.  Keeping Hydrated - becoming dehydrated is especially detrimental to our brain health with even small water deficits possibly impairing mental sharpness.  Being dehydrated affects mood, fatigue, attention memory and reaction speed.  Don't wait until you feel thirsty to start drinking water as by then you will already be dehydrated.  In order to keep your brain hydrated, we should drink several large glasses of liquid each day.

5.  Treating Yourself to Berries and Dark Chocolate - flavonoids are found naturally in many fruits, vegetables and plants and are said to lead to an improvement for memory.  Examples include strawberries, blueberries and cherries.  Such flavonoids have also been linked to slowing cognitive decline particularly when eating more than one serving per week.  Another helpful treat is to eat dark chocolate which is said to enhance episodic memory in healthy young adults. 


6.  Re-consider your Multi-tasking Prowess - while we might think it is advantageous to be be able to multi-task, a recent study has pointed to this not being such a good idea after all.  It can actually interfere with our working memory, slowing us down and even creating possible long term memory problems.  Multi-tasking apparently creates an interference between the three important networks that control focus and attention - namely, the frontoparietal, the dorsal attention network and the ventral network - leading to slower processing and even mistakes being made.  Instead, we should concentrate and focus our attention on the priority task first before moving on to other tasks. 

7.  Be Aware of the Dangers of Stress - included in these dangers is brain flog and memory loss and inflammation.  All of these dangers of stress can cause the brain not to function properly, increasing anxiety and depression while reducing memory processing. 

8.  Sleeping Better - we can never over-estimate the importance of good quality sleep.  You might not appreciate that while we rest, our brain is busy filing away all of the day's memories.  One tip if you want to memorize something important, is to look at it before you go to sleep so that it is fresh in your mind (ready for that filing cabinet) as you dream away. 


9.  Including Plenty of Polyphenols in your Diet - these plant chemicals ae found in apples, green tea, beans, nuts and whole grains and when we eat them in good quantities, there are two important effects.  One, they help to improve blood flow,increasing the supply of oxygen energy and nutrients to our blood cells. Two, they promote neurogenesis - the production of new neurons especially in the hippocampus.  If you can consume enough polyphenols, you will have better heart and brain function.  Aim to consume whole grain foods including eating beans several times a week and your five a day (fruit and veggies) to reach the required target. 

10. Using Emotional Mnemonics - if we have experienced emotional events, we will recall these more than we will more neutral memories.  Your brain will benefit if we intentionally link the facts or data that we want to remember to personal emotional experiences.  The more vivid and personally meaningful the connection, the better the boost to the brain.




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