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- Choose activities that stimulate you mentally
- Look after your gut
- Listen to Music
- Enlist the help of some brain supporting supplements
Exercise increases blood circulation, which helps to pump more oxygen to our brain. However, oxygen is not the only thing our brains get more of when we exercise. Numerous proteins and chemicals, including brain-derived neurotropic factor, are also produced when we’re active. These chemicals directly benefit our cognitive function and ability to learn.
2. Choose activities that stimulate you mentally
Your brain is a like a muscle; the more you work it, the stronger it gets. Scientists have found that when we study and learn our brain cells actually grow. This is because the size and structure of neurons and the connections between them change as you learn. Similar studies show that intelligence is actually determined by the number of connections you have between neurons (the tiny cells in your brain). When you learn new things, these connections multiply and get stronger.
One of the easiest ways to boost your brain function is to keep learning. Challenging your mind with brain-training exercises helps to keep your brain fit as you age. Try doing crossword puzzles and playing board games in your downtime, or learn that thing you’ve always wanted to learn, whether it be a musical instrument or a foreign language.
Your brain requires sleep to consolidate the information from the day and improve your overall performance in a range of challenging skills. It is not uncommon to feel forgetful and unfocused when you’re sleep deprived. In fact, even just one night of only 4 – 6 hours’ sleep can impact your ability to think clearly the next day. Excessive sleep deprivation can lead to permanent issues with your brain, so be sure to get your eight hours as often as you can.
4. Look after your gut
Your gut has a lot of the same features as your brain, sharing many structural and chemical similarities. Just as you have neurons in your brain, your gastrointestinal (GI) tract has its own network of neurons that influence behaviour, mood, and stress levels. This is because the bacteria that lives in your gut transmits information to your brain. Long story short, if you have abnormal gut flora, you may have abnormal brain function.
The bacteria in your gut are dependent on your diet and lifestyle. Eating a lot of processed foods and sugar isn’t good for your overall health but it especially impacts your brain and gut. This is because processed foods destroy healthy microflora and sugar unbalances the microbiota. For healthy gut flora and better brain function, cut out sugar and processed foods where possible, and increase fermented foods, which are rich in naturally occurring good bacteria and other microbes. Fermented foods have been shown to increase microbial diversity, whereas fibre has not.
5. Listen to Music
Classical music has long been associated with enhanced mental clarity and focus, but recent studies have shown that other music can be beneficial too, depending on the task at hand. For example, listening to your favourite song when you have to complete a mundane task may actually help you complete it faster. If you need a creative solution, ambient noise is best because it provides just the right amount of distraction to allow you think in more imaginative ways. So, take advantage of this simple pleasure whenever you can, it’ll do your brain some good.
6. Enlist the help of some brain supporting supplements
Fatty acids (FAs) are at the top of the brain food list. The Omega-3 FAs improve focus and mental clarity, but they’ve also been linked to lowering the risk of long-term health issues. Approximately 50-60% of your brain is composed of fat, and the 2 most abundant FAs are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). For this reason, adequate amounts of DHA and ARA are necessary for proper brain function. Unfortunately, your body cannot produce them, so they must be obtained through your diet and these Omegas can only be easily found in animal foods. Red Super Krill Oil is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, and it’s good for more than just your brain. Research has also found that animal fats may be protective in a number of ways. It is important to note that overconsumption of linoleic acid, from plant oils, can disrupt the balance of omegas, among other damaging effects, and so vegetable/seed oils should be avoided.
Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a major antioxidant for the area within our cells that produces energy. The brain requires large amounts of energy, so CoQ10 is essential. The antioxidant action of CoQ10 also supports the brain cells in dealing with free radical damage, which is important for long-term brain health. Ginkgo Biloba is a brain tonic that has been shown to support focus and mental alertness. Ginkgo works by supporting cerebral circulation.
With a few simple lifestyle changes, you could make a world of difference to your brain so it’s worth investing in its future… After all, we only get one.
How does exercise benefit cognitive function and learning?
Exercise benefits cognitive function and learning by increasing blood circulation, which delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the brain, and by stimulating the production of chemicals like brain-derived neurotropic factors that enhance cognitive abilities and learning.
What is the connection between gut health and brain function?
The connection between gut health and brain function lies in the communication between the gut and the brain through the gut-brain axis, where the gut microbiota influences behaviour, mood, and stress levels by transmitting information to the brain, emphasising the importance of a healthy gut for optimal brain function.