Kick your memory power into high gear with savvy (and delicious) ways to boost your brain. Along with other smart tips for remembering names and making effective work decisions, keeping your brain active and healthy ensures years and years of positive productivity. Not only will you increase your brains abilities, but also, you'll improve your memory power and overall health. Click through for 10 ways you can boost your memory power now.
Have a pregraduation final or an upcoming important presentation to nail? It may help to take a step back from your notes and go for a run or a bike ride. A new lab study, reported in The New York Times has found that exercise can improve your memory and learning skills.
In the study, scientists fed a group of mice certain drugs that mimic muscle changes from exercise and compared them to sedentary mice. The mice who "exercised" ended up performing much better on memory and learning.
Previous studies have already found that exercise can make you smarter, but investigators in this lab test say that it could shed light on exactly how exercising affects your brain; they think that exercise releases an enzyme into your blood that travels to your brain, where it has an effect on learning and memory.
The researchers note that sustained aerobic exercise is most effective if you're trying to improve your smarts, since endurance cardio increases blood flow (although they also say that a good strength training session may be effective as well, but wasn't tested). Want more ideas to make you smarter in time for your big brain-testing event? Read our tips on what to eat to be smarter here.
We all know that not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on your body, but according to a new study conducted by Jane Ferrie, a senior research fellow in the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London Medical School, sleeping less than six or getting more than eight hours of sleep is associated with a decline in brain function.
The study looked at 5,431 female and male office workers from London, age 35 to 55 in 1985 and twice more over the next two decades, who were assessed over a long period of time. It was found that women who got seven hours of sleep had high cognitive measure scores, while more than eight hours showed lower scores. According to Dr. Alberto Ramos, co-director of the Health Sleep Medicine Program and an assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, "Getting enough sleep helps many brain functions. It is restorative; it lets you concentrate better and process new information better and faster." Although he is perplexed why too much sleep may be unhealthy, speculating that this may be a sign of other health issues. I will vouch for that also, since I feel amazing after nine hours of sleep! Seven and I still feel groggy; what about you?
Do you ever get the feeling that your brain has a thick layer of fog surrounding it? You feel extra tired and unable to focus? I refer to this sensation as "foggy brain" because it feels like something is interfering with my mental clarity.
Possible main culprits for that fogged over feeling include lack of sleep, eating fried foods, drinking too much caffeine and soda, stress, and a possible food intolerance or allergy. The good news? There are some quick fixes to make your brain feel better so you can get back to work . . . and play!
- Alter Your Diet — March is National Nutrition Month so try to be extra mindful of what you're putting into your body. Steer clear of processed and sugar-filled foods and eat lots of brightly colored fruits and veggies. Eating nutrient-rich food is important because as soon we eat, our bodies need to break down the food so that these nutrients can be absorbed by our blood and used to refuel our body (and brain!) to function optimally. If you consume sweets, your blood sugar level will spike and the drop, causing fatigue and moodiness. When it comes to carbs, it's best to stick with whole grains since your body slowly utilizes them as a source of energy, while keeping your blood sugar levels stable.
I'm a city girl so I love the lights and bustle of an urban neighborhood, but it seems that the city life might be detrimental to your brain. A recent study from the World Health Organization says that living in the city causes more stress and mentally exhausts your brain. This comes about because of the constant activity around you that requires your attention, from the loud conversations to the overwhelming sights. The study showed that you don't have to be living in the countryside to get the benefits — viewing bits and pieces of green would do the trick.
If you need to de-stress from work, consider going to a nearby park and taking in the green sights!
When we're little, we're encouraged to eat leafy greens and fish fillets to help our brains grow into little powerhouses. While that's all good, there are plenty of other foods to provide our thinking organs the power they need to keep ticking. So before you reach for the pill bottle full of supplements or overdose on spinach, try filling up on some of these tasty bites that can fire up some brain power naturally.
- Brazil nuts: What does monosaturated fat plus magnesium equal? Apparently a healthy dose of brain food. Dr. Oz says the combination available in Brazil nuts helps the body and brain communicate better.
- Avocados: They don't just taste delicious, they are divine for the brain. Dr. Ann Kulze says, "It's a monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow . . . And healthy blood flow means a healthy brain."
- Blueberries: We already know that blueberries are a fabulous source of antioxidants, which is great for aging skin. It's also an incredible boost to the aging of the brain, as they can help prevent Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
When thinking about diet, it's easy to overlook the brain. But like your heart, the brain needs a healthy diet to function properly. Starving it or feeding it the wrong types of things can lead to memory loss, depression, and a host of brain diseases like Alzheimer's. Do you know what foods make for a happy brain? Take my quiz to find out . . .Take the Quiz
I have read many an article explaining how to run smarter, not harder, but according to a few recent studies discussed on the blog Well, running hard could actually make you smarter. While the majority of the research has been done on rats, both human and animal studies have found that working hard aerobically sharpens the senses and primes the brain for problem solving. When I think about it, the connection between running and thinking seems related to human evolution: run hard from your predator and devise a way to outwit the beast of prey. The scientists working with rats may ask that we don't jump to the conclusion that what works for rats will work for us, but I am adding these studies to my motivational arsenal when it comes time for a tempo run or sprint interval workout.
Franz Kafka, David Lynch, and Rene Magritte were my Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas as a teenager. (Yeah, I was a weirdo.) So imagine my delight when I read a study that claims that surrealism may be good for the brain.
Research psychologists at UC Santa Barbara and the University of British Columbia concluded that exposure to surrealist art, film or literature, because it puts you in worlds whose elements don't make sense, drives you to look for structure and sense elsewhere, hence raising "the cognitive mechanisms that oversee implicit learning functions." Want to hear the details of this study? Then read more
Not only can extreme obesity take 10 years off your life, it could also be prematurely aging your brain. According to a new study published in Human Brain Mapping, the brains of obese people look 16 years older than those of lean people, due to eight percent less brain tissue on average. The brains of individuals classified as "overweight" appear eight years older than those of normal-weight people.
Though the study was rather small — 94 brain scans of subjects in their 70s — researchers concluded that the loss of brain tissue due to weight problems could put patients at higher risk of Alzheimer's. According to study author and UCLA neurology professor Paul Thompson, "you can greatly reduce your risk for Alzheimer's, if you can eat healthily and keep your weight under control." So shape up your body, and the mind will follow.
Every day, it seems, we read about another health risk tied to obesity, but this is one of the most surprising I've come across. Does this shock you?