Your brain needs to be fit and alert for everyday situations like an office presentation, an important discussion, studying for an exam or performing from memory. While you may be following a healthy diet and exercising to keep your body in shape, however the question that arises is how to maintain brain health and keep the mind sharp. According to a famous neurologist in Kolkata
Like any other organ in your body, the brain too begins to decline with age, and while exercise boosts physical health, there are certain techniques you can employ to strengthen your brain health.
Optimising the food you eat is important. Though the brain only accounts for two per cent of the total body weight, it uses between 20 to 30 per cent of the body’s energy, and despite its high need for energy, the brain is able to store only a negligible amount of glucose. It needs a constant supply of energy delivered through the bloodstream.
Your choice of food can affect the energy boost your brain gets. There are a number of healthy foods for increasing brainpower – some help in boosting alertness and performance in the short-term, others improve alertness and functioning in the long run.
Foods to boost brain health in short-term:
- Caffeine – One or two cups of coffee in a day can improve brainpower and alertness for a short while. However, drinking cup after cup of coffee can lead to distorted thinking, fatigue and even caffeine withdrawal.
- Carbohydrates – A quality carb snack can boost brainpower and concentration by supplying the brain with fuel that it needs to function optimally. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains offer better benefits than simpler sugars that give a quick sugar fix.
Foods for long-term management of brain health
- Fish with omega-3s – Oily cold water fish like salmon, trout, etc. are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that is useful in spiking concentration, alertness and brain capacity.
- Fruits and vegetables for antioxidants – Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables protect the brain from oxidants that cause damage to brain cells and cell membranes.
- Vitamins and folic acid – Vitamins B6 and B12 are associated with improved alertness and memory. Vitamin C and E are antioxidants that protect cells by deactivating free radicals. Brain is especially vulnerable to the effects of free radicals as it carries the highest amount per gram of tissue than any other organ. These vitamins also help keep blood vessels, ensuring that the brain receives its supply of nutrients. Foods like broccoli, beans and spinach are good sources of folate. Folic acid is actually used to treat brain damage and has an important role in maintaining mental health.
#2. Physical Exercise
Exercise improves the blood flow and flow to the brain, increasing the nutrition being supplied to brain cells. It also increases the production of two hormones, dopamine and serotonin, which create a feel-good emotion. Exercise is an effective means of dealing with depression.
Studies show that individuals who exercise regularly have better cognitive skills and memory. 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to high level activity for most days of the week can boost brainpower. As little as 12 minutes of exercise everyday can improve concentration and increase alertness and well-being.
#3. Continuous Learning
Maintain mental sharpness by challenging your brain to learn new things and keeping it engaged, whether through a new language, reading, solving puzzles or learning a new musical instrument. Brain can stay active through constant stimulation and has the capacity to keep learning as long as you live. It slows down if it sets into a routine.
Art is deemed essential during childhood to improve memory, emotional knowledge and cognition.
Keep involving yourself in novel and creative activities to improve and maintain brain fitness. Even simple challenges for the brain like switching hands to perform tasks can help it to function better.
#4. Good Sleep
Your brain works harder if you are sleep deprived, especially if you need to do high-level thinking. Sleep is important for consolidating memory, soothing tension and negative emotions and improving focus. An average person requires 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night. You can promote better sleep by timing your meals ahead of the sleep schedule, creating a soothing atmosphere in the room to promote sleep, cutting down caffeine and tobacco especially near bed time, etc.
#5. Stress Management
Chronic stress raises the levels of hormone cortisol in brain, which disrupts activity of neurotransmitters, making it difficult to make new memories or access existing ones. You can control the cortisol levels and stress, thereby promoting brain health, through calming techniques like mindfulness, yoga, or massage therapy to boost memory and brainpower.
#6. Avoid Harmful Substances
According to US National Institute of Health, substances like alcohol, nicotine and drugs can lead to changes in certain areas of your brain, including areas that deal with memory, judgement, sensation and coordination. Long-term abuse of alcohol and drugs can cause brain cells to die, reducing memory, affecting sleep and appetite, and diminishing the ability to learn and register new information.
This write-up was contributed by Credihealth content team:
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“Everyday Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp,” WebMD.com, Laura Martin, 17 November, 2010, http://blogs.webmd.com/life-works/2010/11/everyday-ways-to-keep-your-mind-sharp.html
“Healthy Foods to Eat for Brain Power,” WebMD.com, Susan Seliger, http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/healthy-foods-eat-brain-power
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“Oxygen and sugar boost brain power,” The Guardian, Gerard Seenan, 2 April 2001, http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2001/apr/02/highereducation.education
“10 Steps to Brain Fitness,” Discovery.com, Diana Bocco, http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/10-steps-brain-fitness.htm