Brain food: How to make your brain smarter, better, faster

September 07, 2009

The smorgasbord of books and websites at my disposal often make me think about how little I know in relation to how much more there is to learn. The downside is that the more information life throws at us, the less capable our brains are of taking it in. Research indicates that our brains start slowing down at the tender age of 30. It may seem cruel and unfair but there it is. But there is a loophole. If you take good care of yourself, you can get your brain to function more efficiently, no matter what your age is.

One of the ways to a man’s brain is through his stomach. Overall nutrition is the key to brain health. Physical exercise is a must since excess weight weighs down your brain’s ability to indulge in witty conversation while also making quick problem solving difficult.

In concert with a good workout routine, you need to eat right. Food that is bad for your body is also bad for your brain. After all, your brain is a part of your body. High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol are unkind to the brain and make life in general all too difficult.
Here are a few ways to slow the degeneration process and make your brain mimic the activity of a younger brain:

Get plenty of antioxidants: Antioxidants are used in treatments for stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and coronary heart disease. They neutralize harmful free radicals which attack the neurons in our brains. Tea, coffee, cocoa, whole grains, spinach, nuts are all packed with antioxidants. So chocolate is actually good for your brain!

Quit smoking: Smoking increases the risk of stroke and hypertension, which in turn impair the functioning of the brain and contribute to mental decline. Smokers perform worse than nonsmokers in studies of memory and cognitive function. Smoking is bad for virtually every organ in your body, so think twice before you buy your next pack of cigarettes.

Drink in moderation:Heavy drinking: Bad. Moderate drinking: Good. The intake of about one alcoholic drink a day can reduce the risk of dementia. Excessive alcohol, however, is toxic and may lead to Korsakoff’s syndrome, a disorder that causes irreversible memory loss. Do not despair if you are a heavy drinker; there is hope yet. If you stop even now, you can recover some of the damaged memory function.

Stay calm and get plenty of rest:Stress interferes with learning and memory processes. Traumatic stress harms the cells in your hippocampus. Breathe. Relax. Get some sleep. A study at Harvard found that creativity peaks when participants have had a good night’s rest.

Exercise your brain: When machines lie around, unused, for long periods of time, they begin to rust. The same principle applies to our brains. Our brains are highly plastic and can learn at any stage if asked to. All they need is a little engagement. There a number of exercises available in the market and on the internet to sharpen your cognitive skills. Do some jigsaw puzzles, play a new game, learn a foreign language or try your hand at a musical instrument.
Social support and laughter also have positive effects on brain health. With adequate nutrition and exercise, you can not only maintain the existing levels of mental acuity, but actually improve the speed and accuracy of your cognitive processes.

Follow these simple tips and watch your brain get smarter, better and faster.

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