Ways to fuel the Mind to keep it functioning at its best!
By: Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N
Lets face it; we all have had our moments- forgetting where we parked the car, a name, birthday, or even an appointment. While these things can sometimes be normal, they aren’t something you want to make a habit of right? Does integrity of the brain come to mind when thinking about a healthy body? We take conscious efforts towards keeping the joints, muscles, skin, digestion, hair, etc. healthy, but what are we doing on a daily basis to keep the mind working at its absolute best? Take these following steps to keep the brain feeling fresh throughout the day:
Stimulate the Brain
If you do this already try something different. For example if you like crossword puzzles and do them often, then try brainteasers or work a puzzle to stimulate the brain in new ways.
Change the Routine
We are creatures of habit – so if you always put your pants on right leg first or put your shirt on then your pants, try switching it up to force the brain to think in a different order.
Continue to Learn
Most people can’t wait to get out of school to enjoy a little more free time but the more we continue to learn the better. Keeping the mind engaged keeps neurons in the brain strong and improves function. So read a book, search the web, or take a class to create new synapses in the brain.
Research now shows that exercising even just three times a week can delay the progression of dementia and sharpen brain function. Not only does it improve thought process, but it can also energize the body and awaken the mind to think more clearly.
Periodontal disease and gingivitis have been linked to several health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, and decreased cognitive function. Bacteria from inadequate oral hygiene are believed to travel up to the brain through the cranial nerves thus leading to plaque in the brain, which is associated with Alzheimer’s.
Protein– can help block the build up of serotonin in the brain (a neurotransmitter making you drowsy and sluggish).
Nuts – typically high in the mineral boron, which has been shown to improve the electrical activity of the brain. Other foods that contain high amounts of boron are green leafy veggies, pears, apples, peaches, and grapes.
Apples – not only do apples have the mineral boron, but also some evidence shows that one apple is just as effective at waking up the mind as a cup of Joe.
Zinc – a mineral that has been shown to improve mental alertness and memory. Foods that have a higher content of zinc are fish, oysters, whole grains and legumes.
Omega’s – crucial in brain development; supports brain function and memory. Foods such as fish, avocados, olive oil, and nuts all contain omegas.
Peppermint – studies suggest that sucking on a peppermint helps keep the mind focused.
Caffeine – some sources have antioxidant properties such as dark chocolate and coffee. Drinking 1-2 cups of coffee a day will help stimulate the brain and enhanced alertness. However, too much caffeine can cause dehydration and jitteriness having the opposite effect on the mind.
Blueberries – anthocyanin is what gives this powerful fruit its rich blue pigment, which is linked to enhancing memory and learning capabilities.
We’ve all been there, those times where you just feel in a fog. Rest is needed to stabilize chemicals in the body and achieve psychological and physiological balance. It’s crucial, and without appropriate amounts of rest – fatigue, memory loss, impaired mental function, depression and decreased mental clarity can ensue. Just a 10-minute power nap can wake the body and mind up and keep it optimally functioning.
Small amounts make a huge difference when talking about hydration. Losing just 3-5% of body weight can adversely effect concentration, memory and reaction time. Losing just 1-2% can result in dehydration; so don’t wait until you feel thirsty because typically by then your body is already low on fluids.
photography by: Christi Minter