We all know the importance of caring for our bodies, but have you ever considered the importance of strengthening your brain?
The brain is an incredible organ, and whether we realize it or not, our daily habits can weaken or strengthen this fundamental piece of equipment.
We fuel our bodies with proper nutrition, but what does it take to feed and protect our minds. Similar to our muscles, the brain is malleable. Therefore, it is affected by our daily habits.
Let’s look at five ways to strengthen your brain like a muscle to optimize its performance.
Exercise positively impacts brain function
Studies show physical activity significantly impacts the brain, not just the body.
In a fabulous TED talk, Wendy Suzuki, a Neuroscientist at NYU and author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life, discusses The brain-changing benefits of exercise.
Suzuki discovered the incredible benefits of exercise on the brain after developing her own exercise regimen. She found the benefits so impactful that she decided to shift her scientific research to explore it even further.
After several years of research, Suzuki concluded that exercise is the single most transformative thing you can do to improve brain function for the following three reasons:
- Immediate effects due to the increase in neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin after a single workout. Providing an instant boost in mood
- Improves the ability to shift and focus attention
- Improves reaction times
Suzuki discovered the benefits of exercise on the brain are long-lasting. As a result, it protects the brain from conditions like depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
Physical activity fundamentally changes the brain’s anatomy, physiology, and function by increasing the volume of the hippocampus through the production of new brain cells.
How sleep strengthens the brain
Sleep is incredibly important for the brain to function optimally.
Research suggests sleep deprivation impairs cognitive brain function in a multitude of ways.
Lack of sleep hinders learning, reduces cognitive performance, and slows reaction time.
Sleep is imperative for brain health because it flushes toxins from the brain that build up during waking hours.
Studies also suggest a correlation between degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and lack of sleep.
To ensure your mind has time to rest and restore, strive for 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night. This habit of restful sleep will have long-lasting positive effects on your brain.
Benefits of water for the brain
Your brain is approximately 80% water. Not only is water incredibly beneficial for the body, but it is also essential for brain function.
Proper hydration results in:
- Improved cognition
- Better concentration
- Greater clarity
- Higher levels of creativity
- Balanced mood and emotions
- Reduced stress
- Prevention and alleviation of headaches
Implement the habit of drinking a full glass of water immediately after waking up. In addition, aim for a minimum of 64 ounces of water daily to hydrate your brain and body.
We all understand the importance of proper nutrition for the body. In addition, there are specific foods proven to have added benefits for the brain.
A list of the top brain foods include:
- Avocados: Provide monounsaturated fat that aids in healthy blood flow
- Blueberries: Protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduce the effects of aging
- Broccoli: Provide a great source of vitamin K, which is known to improve cognitive function and memory
- Dark chocolate: Improves focus and concentration, as well as stimulates endorphins. Contains the antioxidant flavonoids.
- Eggs: Contain choline, which improves memory and provides a brain boost
- Green leafy vegetables: Good sources of folate and Vitamin E, which reduces brain aging and improves memory
- Salmon, sardines, caviar: Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which help minimize brain aging
- Turmeric: Reduces inflammation and boosts antioxidant levels
- Walnuts: Contain vitamin E and antioxidants that protect against brain aging
Reading and brain health
Reading enhances the mind, the same way lifting weights strengthens muscles. It stimulates the brain and keeps it sharp.
Essentially, it puts the brain to work.
Studies show reading improves brain connectivity. As a result, it increases focus and concentration. It is the ultimate exercise for the mind.
Begin reading for a minimum of 10-15 minutes daily to strengthen your brain and improve cognitive function.
Treat the brain like a muscle in the body.
The more you work it, the stronger it gets.
Mental health is equally as important as physical health. Make a conscious effort to protect and strengthen your brain as much as possible using these tips for improved brain health.