“Brainpower improves by brain use, just as our bodily strength grows with exercise.” – A.N. Wilson
One of the biggest fears that we all face while ageing is the idea that our mental capacity will slowly fail us. With time we will begin thinking slower and struggling to fight back against memory loss. With disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia lingering in the shadows, we can’t help but wonder just how long we will continue to possess our current mind.
There are many factors that impact our level of intelligence and our risk of suffering from age-related mental illnesses. Family genetics, the level of education that you received, illnesses that you suffered throughout your life, your diet and the care you take to exercise and promote a healthier mindset all add up together to paint a picture of our personal mental health.
The good news is that you can take steps to improve the health of your brain, training it to think faster, stronger and at a higher level of intelligence. Similar to strength training in order to boost your ability to lift weights, you can also exercise your brain. Neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of the University of California San Francisco explains, “It may not be a muscle, but you can train your brain just like you would your biceps to perform at a significantly higher level.”
According to Merzenich, you can make significant mental improvements regardless of your current level of intelligence or your age. Throughout your life your brain is continuing to change, grow and evolve, and by changing just a few daily habits you can make this change work in your favor.
Here are 6 tips to help speed up and strengthen your brain:
Get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is often the most underrated and forgotten about tool in our battle to promote a healthier body and mind. When you are asleep your brain has the opportunity to sort through the information that it has been storying, moving ideas from your short-term memory to your long-term memory for recall further down the road. It also has the opportunity to process more thoughts, and recharge to ensure it is prepared for the day ahead.
Drink more coffee.
A study out of Harvard University found that caffeine consumption can actually help to increase not only your wakefulness but also your awareness short term! Already an American favourite, coffee can do more than just give us the little pick me up that we need in the morning. Researchers also found that a moderate intake of caffeine was able to boost the memory, helping participants to perform better on memory tests.
Rid yourself of negative thoughts.
Our world has spun into one of consistent negativity. Every time that we turn on the news we are met with images of the latest tragedy, a constant parade of negative news both locally and abroad. One of the side effects of depression is that it creates a ‘brain fog,’ slowing down your ability to think and function optimally. Allowing yourself to be overcome by negative energies and thoughts will ultimately bog down your mind.
Ensure that you stay hydrated.
Most Americans are not drinking enough water on a daily basis, a mistake that has been found to impact our overall brain health. A good portion of the human brain is made up of water. When we move into a state of dehydration it can inhibit the brain’s ability to transfer the necessary electrical signals throughout the nerve pathways that connect the various areas of the brain. Failure in this communication impacts not only how the brain itself functions, but also your overall health.
Increase your Vitamin B12 intake.
The various vitamins and minerals that make up a healthy diet can do more than just improve our overall physical health and well being. One vitamin that helps to encourage optimal brain function and an improved memory is vitamin B12. Experts suggest sublingual tablets and B12 injections from your doctor if you are found the be deficient as they will bypass the stomach, further working to improve your overall health.
Consider memorization a brain workout.
Much like lifting weights or running on a treadmill, the act of memorization can be used as a means of ‘working out’ your brain. Practice memorization at every chance possible – pushing yourself to memorize facts, people’s names, historical events and addresses. Rather than relying on your contact list on your phone, memorize your friend’s phone numbers. The more you work your brain, the stronger it will become.