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7 Easy-to-Cultivate Habits for a Healthier Day

7 Easy-to-Cultivate Habits for a Healthier Day

Whether working in Corporate America or slaving away as a full-time mom, it is all too easy to fall into an unhealthy lifestyle in this day and age. Do you often find yourself feeling depleted or discouraged? Have you been wanting to change your life for the better, but not sure where to start?

The good news is that just like your daily coffee and binge reruns of Orange is the New Black, cultivating healthy habits is as easy as making a date with your bedroom after doing a lap around the produce section at the grocery store (with your shopping cart, of course). All of us need a little boost of motivation sometimes, so check out the tips below and get ready to create some healthy new habits!

1. Eat Healthy

Eighty percent of the immune system is in the gut, so it’s no surprise that eating poorly can lead to illness, fatigue, and a general unwell feeling. The aisles lining our grocery stores are packed with items full of chemicals and preservatives that can overtax our bodies and wear down our immunity. In addition to wreaking havoc on our digestion, these foods can deplete your vitamin and mineral stores and, believe it or not, leave you malnourished.

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Eating healthy is as easy as making the decision to do so. Focus on eating clean, whole foods that aren’t processed or filled with sugar and food additives. Fortunately, for every unhealthy item available, there are just as many healthy alternatives! Instead of cereal, fill your morning bowl with steel cut oatmeal topped with honey and fresh fruit. Instead of eating out for lunch, pack a salad of lean meat and plenty of raw veggies and fruit to snack on throughout the day.

Avoiding an unhealthy binge session is as easy as being prepared for that 3 PM sugar craving so that you reach for a handful of grapes instead of the candy bar button on the vending machine at work.

2. Exercise Regularly

You don’t have to be a cardio junkie to reap the long-lasting benefits of daily exercise. A simple walk or bike ride through the neighborhood can do the trick, as long as you make sure you’re active for at least thirty minutes a day. Need motivation? Sign up for a 5K race and print off a training plan. Whether planning to run or walk it, knowing how many miles you need to cover each day will help keep you on track. Get a friend to join you and schedule your training runs in your calendar. You will find that you’re much less likely to skip out on a run if someone’s out there waiting for you!

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Building muscle can also help strengthen your bones and heart and can make you stronger all over, so doctors often recommend some kind of strength training program when talking about an exercise routine. In addition to cardio, be sure to hit the gym a couple days a week for a light session with the weights.

Not sure where to begin? Hire a trainer for a month to show you the ropes. Don’t belong to a gym? Many workout programs are available free online, and you can either use body weight (push-ups, squats, lunges, etc.) or invest in a set of barbells for home.

3. Get More Rest

There may be so much to do and so little time to do it in, but sacrificing precious zzz’s to fit more into your day will only cause harm in the long run. Scientists and doctors alike have been advising people for years to take the amount of sleep they get seriously. Sometimes it can seem hard to fit in 8 hours of sleep a night, especially in the “go get ‘em” society we live in, but it is essential to give your body the necessary time it needs to recoup.

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Luckily, adding more sleep to your day is surprisingly easy. Make bedtime a priority — just like you would a meeting or date with a friend. Set an alarm if necessary. Turn off all devices an hour before bed and do something calming, whether it be bathing, reading, meditating, or stretching. Your body will quickly adapt to getting 8 hours of night and you can bet it will thank you!

4. Be Kind

Believe it or not, kindness is more than a virtue, it’s a habit that can add countless benefits to your life. By purposely adding kindness into every facet of your day, you will be astonished by how much better you will feel about yourself.

No matter if you approach a person you don’t know or interact with your friends, people will react to and treat you better. Your attitude, as well as theirs, will be better for it. Being kind doesn’t have to mean volunteering at a soup kitchen each weekend (though if that’s your desire, go for it!). Kindness is often most appreciated when it comes in the form of a compliment to a friend or co-worker. Hold the door for the person behind you even if it takes them a while to catch up. Each day is full of opportunities to cultivate kindness and positivity.

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5. Meditate

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to lose touch with our inner selves and lose our peace and footing. Meditation is an easy and effective way to center yourself before heading out into the day or regroup once back home. Transcendental Medidation is just one of many types of meditation which aims to help you achieve inner peace, mindfulness, and overall wellbeing.

Pick a time in the morning or evening each day to just sit and be. Turn off your phone and tune out all noise except for that of your breathing. Get in touch with yourself so that you can approach the rest of the world as a peaceful, confident being.

6. Journal

Whether it be an online blog or a bedside journal, put your pen to the page and let your words flow. With the rise of social media, we spend less time face-to-face these days and more time trying to paint a picture-perfect portrait of what our lives are. Where are all of your thoughts, fears, and worries hiding? Keeping them inside can lead to anger and mood issues and even the need for counseling later down the road. Writing down your thoughts, dreams, and fears is an easy, yet incredibly effective, way to share an intimate piece of yourself — whether it’s with the entire web or just the lines on a paper.

7. Create a Routine

Last, but definitely not least, combine all of your healthy habits and daily demands and plug them into a daily routine. The consistency of repeating firmly rooted habits will help you stay focused on your priorities so that you are less likely to be distracted by the unimportant things in life. Beginning a daily routine is as simple as jotting down a schedule of the day or plugging it into your Google calendar. Just as children thrive on routines, so do we as adults! As your mother used to say, “Come up with a plan and stick to it!” You’ll be glad you did.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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