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How Meditation Improves Stress levels, Creative Thinking, Energy, and Success

How Meditation Improves Stress levels, Creative Thinking, Energy, and Success

Meditation has long been recommended to help with various issues that are just a part of life—or so you thought. Now is the time to listen to this advice and start practicing your meditation. It is just one simple task that can take as little as 30 minutes a day and can have lasting benefits when done regularly. It is about more than just clearing your mind—when the mind is cleared, it affects other physiological aspects of the body, leading to an overall healthier lifestyle along with lower health risks.

Meditation is best used when supplemented with medical intervention for more serious health problems. That being said, it will never hurt your health to practice meditation to cleanse your mind.

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Reduce Stress Levels

Chronic stress raises the blood pressure and leads to the constriction of blood vessels, depression, and even addiction. When the mind becomes calm during meditation, you become focused on your breathing and relaxation—which leads to a reduced feeling of stress. Controlled, deep breathing allows the body to produce higher levels of nitric oxide. This compound helps to open constricted blood vessels and will reduce blood pressure.

Decrease Muscle Tension

When you draw attention to varied areas of the body through controlled breathing, the mind will aid the muscles in relaxing. The technique known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation can be used at the start of a meditation session to tense and relax muscles throughout the body with mindfulness and purpose.

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Improve Heart Health

Individuals who meditate throughout the day will experience a reduction in the thickness of their artery walls—those who do not meditate do not experience this reduced thickness. This reduction of thickness translates to a lower risk of stroke and heart attack.

Up Your Emotional Wellbeing

Meditation can reduce the gray matter density in some areas of the brain that are related to stress and anxiety. Those who practice a specific type of meditation are less likely to get stuck on any one negative stimulus. Meditation will also decrease your levels of worry and improve three areas of compassion—compassion for others, receiving compassion from others, and compassion for one’s self.

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Enhance Immunity

Individuals that practice yoga and meditation experience an improvement in their mitochondrial energy production, resilience, and consumption. This process leads to a boost in the immune system as well as an overall resilience to stress. The health benefits of meditation include much more than just a clear mind.

Foster Creativity

“Open monitoring” meditation has positive effects for creativity and diverging thinking. This specific type of meditation consists of monitoring, but not reacting to, the content of the experience through each moment. Those who did this type of meditation seemed to perform better at tasks in which they were asked to come up with new ideas in a creative manner.

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Improve Positive Relationships and Empathy

Loving-kindness meditation helps the individual focus on developing a sense of love and care toward every being. One study has shown that practicing this type of meditation allows for the individual to better empathize with others through reading their facial expressions. Building up these positive emotions through compassion will help to increase personal resources, like a loving attitude toward one’s own self, a loving attitude toward others, social support, and self-acceptance.

Reduce Social Isolation

Loving-kindness meditation will increase the feelings of social connectedness as well as a positive attitude toward new people—both explicitly and implicitly. This type of meditation is easily implemented and can help to reduce social isolation and increase a variety of positive social emotions.

Reduce Risk of Stroke and Heart Disease

Meditation has the ability to significantly reduce the risk of mortality, stroke, and myocardial infarction in those with heart disease. This is because meditation lowers the blood pressure and changes other psychosocial stress factors. Along with this, it will reduce the risk of depression, premature death, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

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:

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.

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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.

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.

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

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!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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