What Really Works to Improve Brain Function?
Updated: May 19, 2020
We all have our focused and alert days and our not-so-focused and alert days, often times thinking that we have no control of which day it will be when we wake up. Fortunately, we do have more control than we realize over how our brains function in the short run and in the long run. So, read on and choose more of those alert and focused days in your life.
An exercised body creates a healthier brain… The number one lifestyle habit that positively affects brain health is exercise. Movement is essential with a combination of aerobic, weight bearing and stretching. Dance and table tennis have been shown to be especially beneficial because they work the brain, as well. A good healthcare practitioner or fitness trainer can help you create a plan.
A learning brain is adaptable… Be a lifelong learner. Sudoku Is great, but we need variety. Learn a new language, a new skill, a new hobby. Find something that brings you joy and dive into learning all about it.
A hydrated brain is a sharper brain…Mental acuity and decision making are noticeably diminished even with minimal dehydration. The results of dehydration on brain function show up even before the thirst mechanism kicks in. Find a water bottle (safe glass or stainless steel) that you love so that you will be more likely to use and aim to consume ½ of our body weight in ounces of water daily.
A rested brain is a better brain… You might have already heard, but scientists have discovered that the brain shrinks in size while we sleep and detoxifies itself through the glymphatic system. Without sleep, toxins build up in the brain…not ideal. At least 7 hours of restful sleep should get that system pumping.
A nourished brain is a stronger brain…DHA is a mainstay for brain health, but did you know that having low levels of Vitamin D, B-vitamins, magnesium and potassium can cause foggy brain? Blood tests will look for major deficiencies, but not optimal levels. For example, Vitamin D levels above 30 ng/ml are considered “normal,” whereas most functional doctors will look for levels between 60 and 100 ng/ml. Have your nutrient levels checked regularly. One of my favorite supplements is OptiMag® Neuro. It contains a special kind of magnesium called threonate that can cross the blood-brain barrier to nourish the brain. Studies have shown it to increase both short-term and long-term memories significantly. It is also very helpful in reducing the effects of trauma. Love this stuff!
A meditative brain is more resilient…The far-reaching effects of meditation on every aspect of our health keep being discovered. With a plethora of apps and downloads, there is no excuse to not try it. And, I promise you are not the only one with monkey brain. Meditation is a practice, so, stick with it and you will improve with time.
A balanced blood sugar level makes for a balanced brain…Know your blood sugar levels! Both fasting blood sugar (hopefully under 90) and you Hemoglobin A1c (your 3-month average blood sugar). Alzheimer’s has been referred to as Type 3 Diabetes for good reason. We recommend working with a holistic nutritionist to optimize those numbers.
A healthy gut means a healthier brain…If you have inflammation in your gut, you will likely have inflammation in your brain, as well as neurotransmitter imbalance. Your gut and your brain are directly connected via the Vagus Nerve, where 80% of the messaging actually goes from the gut to the brain, hence the term for the intestines being “The Second Brain.” Eat fermented foods and take probiotics daily. Limit sugar and inflammatory grain intake, as well as microbiome-destroying things like (unnecessary) antibiotics and steroids (in meats and dairy products, too), chlorinated/fluoridated water and GMO foods.
The health of our brains is a result of our lifestyle decisions. These habits are also beneficial for the heart and can help prevent cancer, so what is stopping you? Your mind and body are worth it!