Tag Archives: healthy brain

9 foods to help you concentrate

Wild blueberries help you focus and conentrateI just read an article that says cognitive decline – or our ability to reason and remember things – can start to affect our brains as early as age 45. As someone who is rapidly approaching my mid-40s, I have to say this concerns me.

I have been on a journey this past year to live a healthier lifestyle and find more balance in my life. There are always challenges to maintaining a healthy balance. I get stressed out by the demands of work and family. I fall back into unhealthy eating habits or neglect my exercise routine. I sacrifice sleep to get more done.

The last thing I need is to have a sluggish brain and poor concentration while I’m trying to achieve more and live a balanced life. After doing some research, I found that there are several foods that can help me focus and improve my ability to concentrate.

Add these 9 super foods to your diet to help maintain a healthy brain:

Coffee
Caffeine has been shown to slow the aging process and improve short-term memory. While coffee isn’t necessarily going to make you smarter, it can boost your performance and make you more alert. As a huge fan of the benefits of drinking coffee, I am happy to learn that it can also help me concentrate.

Chocolate
Dark chocolate also provides a caffeine boost and contains powerful antioxidants that can help enhance your focus. Plus, chocolate just makes you feel good.

Berries
Berries have been shown to protect the brain from free radicals and help reduce the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and make a good snack. You can also add them to your cereal or oatmeal for a healthy breakfast.

Whole grains
Whole grains, such as oatmeal, cereal, quinoa and barley, contribute to your daily intake of fiber. Whole grains also contain B-vitamins that are used to break down carbohydrates to give your brain energy.

Fish
Fish are a great protein source and give your brain a boost. They are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function and development. These healthy fats have amazing brain power. Salmon and other fatty fish like tuna and mackerel contain an important fat for brain health called DHA. Salmon is a good source of protein, which can also help you stay focused. To reap the benefits, add fish to your diet two or three times a week.

Leafy greens
Leafy greens, including spinach, kale and arugula, contain nutrient compounds that help the brain stay young. They also provide the antioxidant lutein, which can prevent cognitive decline. Try to eat two servings of leafy greens a day.

Nuts and flaxseeds
Nuts, especially walnuts, give your body magnesium, which helps your body function more efficiently and fights off fatigue. Flax is the best source for alpha-linolenic acid – a healthy fat that improves the workings of your brain.

Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba has been used for thousands of years for both concentration and memory. It is thought to boost blood flow and oxygen to the brain and improve function and memory. Ginkgo biloba can be added to your diet as a supplement.

Gum
While gum is not a food, it has been shown in studies to help people be more alert while performing tasks. So, if you want to improve your concentration, chew a piece of gum!

Eating a healthy, balanced diet helps you get the essential nutrients you need to focus. If you eat too much or too little, that can also interfere with your ability to concentrate. For the best brain benefits, eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fiber and protein.

Advertisements

7 tips to keep your mind sharp

Keep your brain sharpJust this morning, I jogged down the stairs to my basement on a mission. Then, I stood at the bottom of the landing wondering why the heck I had come downstairs.

Sound familiar? We all have momentary brain lapses from time to time. We have so many things going through our minds at once, it’s easy to become distracted.

You have probably heard these referred to as “senior moments” – even though we can have memory lapses at any age. In fact, memory loss is not typically caused by age alone. Cognitive decline is more likely to be due to organic disorders, brain injury or neurological illness.

As we discuss often in the this blog, living a balanced life can benefit your overall health and well-being in so many ways. Studies have shown that we can help prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia by living a healthy lifestyle. For instance, staying physically active, getting plenty of rest, being social, eating a balanced diet, and giving up bad habits, such as smoking and limiting alcohol to one drink a day, can all help improve your brain health.

In addition, you can actively exercise your brain muscles. Here are some strategies you can use to help protect and sharpen your mind:

Keep learning
Just as physical activity keeps your body in shape, mental activity can shape up your mind. And, exercising your brain doesn’t really require any special equipment. Simply read a book or the newspaper. Sign up for an online newsletter that interests you. Take a cooking class or take classes toward a degree. Sign up for martial arts or make pottery. Learn a new language. All of these activities help stimulate your mind and keep your brain flexible.

Play games
Games help you concentrate and use strategic planning. This mental stimulation increases your mental clarity. Play a round of golf or hit the tennis court. Play pool with some friends. Do a crossword, Sudoku puzzle or other brain teaser. Play chess, checkers or cards – even solitaire on the computer or a tablet. Or, grab the video controller from your kids or grandkids and play with them. Choose video games that involve strategy or problem solving. Believe it or not, games like tennis and bowling can give you a physical workout, too!

Be social
If you can play games with friends or family, that’s even better. Social interaction with friends can have many health benefits, including improving your mood and cutting down on stress. Both depression and stress can contribute to memory loss. So, go out to eat with a group of friends. Get together and play cards. Have a family game night. Socializing and staying connected is just another form of mental exercise.

Get moving
Speaking of exercise, get up and get moving! Physically active people tend to have better memory and cognition than those who are inactive. Exercising gets your blood flowing all over your body, including your brain. This increased blood flow may help keep your mind sharp. Weight training, toning exercises and improving balance can also help you stay fit and strengthen your brain. Here are some tips to help you get motivated to exercise.

Relieve stress
Exercise helps relieve tension and assists you in coping with the stresses of the day. Chronic stress can wear on your body and mind. Stress causes your body to produce cortisol – which can lead to impaired memory. Find ways to relax and recharge your body and your mind. You’ll feel better, and it’s good for your brain!

Take care of your body
In addition to regular exercise, you should keep your body tuned up. That means getting a physical every year and following your doctor’s recommendations. If you have any chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or depression, you need to treat them to prevent any serious problems in the future. The better you take care of yourself, the better your memory will probably be.

Eat healthy
A healthy diet may be good for your brain health, too. Studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This type of diet includes lots of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and beans. Include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat protein sources like fish, lean meat and skinless poultry. And drink plenty of water to stay hydrated!

Find your purpose
Do something that you love. Do something you’re good at. Find that something that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning. Having a mission in life can help you stay mentally sharp. You may have a job that you love. You may like to volunteer in your community or help out at the local school. You may have a hobby that you truly enjoy. Whatever it is, have fun with it!

Exercise your brain every time you get a chance. Do something new. Try something different. Just remember that when you flex your brain muscles, you are improving your cognitive skills and keeping your mind sharp!