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Want Better Focus And Memory? 10 Foods To Boost Your Brainpower

Want Better Focus And Memory? 10 Foods To Boost Your Brainpower

Your food choices have a huge influence on your health and vitality. Some foods can help to protect your organs, whereas other types of food will damage and weaken your organs – including your brain.

Your brain is one your most important organs, yet damage to the brain can be impossible to repair. Thankfully certain foods can help to protect and strengthen the brain, reducing the chances of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

If you want to boost your brain power, try to include these 10 foods in your diet:

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1. Avocado
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    Some people avoid avocados due to their high fat content, but they are great for the brain. Avocados are filled with both folate and vitamin K, which help to improve cognitive function and prevent blood clots in the brain.

    2. Coconut oil
    coconut

      Coconut oil is known for its numerous benefits, including helping to boost brain power. This is because coconut oil can enhance the ability of neurons in the brain while slowing the production of free radicals that can damage the brain. They also contain saturated fat and antioxidants, which is an essential nutrient for brain function.[1]

      3. Beets
      beetz

        Beets contain natural nitrates that help to boost blood flow to the brain, improving mental performance. They also reduce inflammation in the body and they are filled with antioxidants that help to rid your blood of toxins.

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        4. Blueberries
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          Blueberries are known as a super food, so it may come as no surprise that they can benefit your brain. Blueberries are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods, containing vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber and gallic acid, which protects the brain from degeneration and stress, helping to improve memory.[2]

          5. Dark Chocolate
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            Dark chocolate is good for the body and brain in small quantities. This is because it is filled with flavonols which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Dark chocolate can also lower blood pressure and improve the flow of blood to the brain.

            However it is import to make sure that you buy dark chocolate; both milk and white chocolate are highly processed and they won’t benefit your brain. Look out for chocolate that is at least 70% if you want to boost brain power!

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            6. Leafy Greens
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              Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, romaine lettuce and Swiss chard are great for your brain; recent research has found that they can even help to reduce the chances of dementia.

              The research looked at the eating habits and mental abilities of nearly 1,000 adults over a period of five years. The researchers found that adults who ate leafy green vegetables at least once a day experienced slower mental deterioration that the adults who ate no vegetables.[3] This was still true even when the researchers factored in age and family history of dementia.

              7. Wild salmon
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                Wild salmon is a great source of omega-3 oil DHA, which helps to boost brain power. DHA is an important oil that helps to maintain the health of your brain cells – it even helps to increase the growth of brain cells. This can help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.[4]

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                8. Almonds
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                  Almonds, much like wild salmon, contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids that benefit the brain and boost brain power. Almonds also contain vitamin E which helps to further protect the brain.

                  9. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
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                    Extra virgin oil can help to boost brain power as it contains antioxidants known as polyphenols. Polyphenols can help to improve both learning and memory, and they can even reverse the effects of age and disease. Extra virgin olive oil also fights against the proteins that induce Alzheimer’s.

                    10. Turmeric
                    spices-flavorings-seasoning-food

                      Turmeric can help to reduce inflammation in the brain, and recent studies have even suggested that it can be used to treat Alzheimer’s [5]. Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in the fight against brain degeneration; researchers have found Vedic texts that date back over 3,000 reporting that turmeric can boost brain power!

                      Reference

                      [1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4247320/
                      [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850944/
                      [3] https://consumer.healthday.com/senior-citizen-information-31/misc-aging-news-10/lots-of-leafy-greens-might-shield-aging-brains-study-finds-697909.html
                      [4] http://www.drperlmutter.com/study/fish-consumption-and-the-risk-of-alzheimer-disease/
                      [5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781139/

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                      Amy Johnson

                      Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

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                      Published on July 7, 2020

                      Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

                      Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

                      Exercise isn’t just for your body. Just as important is keeping your mind strong by training your brain with fun mental workouts.

                      Think of your mental and physical fitness the same way: you don’t need to be an Olympian, but you do need to stay in shape if you want to live well. A few cognitive workouts per week can make a major difference in your life.

                      The Skinny on Mental Workouts

                      Physical fitness boosts your stamina and increases your muscular strength. The benefits of working up a mental sweat and brain training, however, might not be so obvious.

                      Research suggests that cognitive training has short- and long-term benefits, including:

                      1. Improved Memory

                      After eight weeks of cognitive training, 19 arithmetic students showed a larger and more active hippocampus than their peers.[1] The hippocampus is associated with learning and memory.

                      2. Reduced Stress Levels

                      Mastering new tasks more quickly makes the work of learning less stressful. A stronger memory can call information to mind with less effort.

                      3. Improved Work Performance

                      Learning quickly and remembering key details can lead to a better career. Employers are increasingly hiring for soft skills, such as trainability and attention to detail.

                      4. Delayed Cognitive Decline

                      As we age, we experience cognitive decline. A study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 10 one-hour sessions of cognitive training boosted reasoning and information processing speed in adults between the ages of 65 and 94.[2]

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                      Just like in physical exercise, what’s important isn’t the specific workout. To be sustainable, cognitive workouts need to be easy and fun. Otherwise, it’s too easy to throw in the towel.

                      Fun Brain Training Exercises for Everyone

                      The best about fun mental workouts? There’s no need to head to a gym. Feel free to mix and match the following activities for daily brain training:

                      1. Brainstorming

                      One of the simplest, easiest ways to engage your brain? Coming up with solutions to a challenge you’re facing.

                      If you aren’t good at solo ideation, ask a partner to join you. When I’m struggling to come up with topics to write about, I call up my editors to bat ideas around. Friends or co-workers are usually happy to help.

                      2. Dancing

                      Isn’t dancing a physical workout? Yes, but the coordination it requires is also great for training your brain. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

                      Studies suggest that dance boosts multiple cognitive skills.[3] Planning, memorizing, organizing, and creativity all seem to benefit from a few fancy steps.

                      3. Learning a New Language

                      Learning a new language takes time. But if you split it up into small, daily lessons, it’s easier than you might think.

                      With language learning, every lesson builds on the last. When I was learning Spanish, I used a tool called Guru for knowledge management.[4] Every time I’d learn a verb tense, I’d create a new card to give me a quick refresh before moving on.

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                      4. Developing a Hobby

                      Like languages, hobbies take time to develop. But that’s the fun of them: you get a little better—both at the hobby and in terms of brain function—each time you do them.

                      If you’re trying to train your brain and improve a certain cognitive skill, choose a hobby that aligns with it.

                      For example:

                      • Attention to detail: Pick a hobby that requires you to work patiently with small features. Woodworking, model-building, sketching, and painting are all good choices.
                      • Learning and memory: Choose an activity that requires you to remember lots of details. Your best bets are hobbies that require lots of categorization, such as collecting stamps or coins.
                      • Motor function: For this brain function, physical activities can double as fun mental workouts. Sports like soccer and basketball build gross motor functions. Fine motor functions are better trained through activities like table tennis or even playing video games.
                      • Problem-solving: Most hobbies require you to problem-solve in one way or another. The ones that test your problem-solving skills the most, however, take some investigation.

                      Geocaching is a good example: Using a combination of clues and GPS readings, geocaching involves finding and re-hiding containers. Typically done in a wooded area, geocaching is a fun way to put your problem-solving skills to the test.

                      5. Board Games

                      Playing a board game might not be much of a physical workout, but it does make for a fun mental workout. With that said, not all board games work equally well for cognitive training.

                      Avoid “no brainer” board games, like Candy Land. Opt for strategy-focused ones, such as Risk or Settlers of Catan. Remember to ask other players for their input.

                      6. Card Games

                      Card games build cognitive skills in much the same way board games do. They have a few extra advantages, though, that make them worthy of special attention.

                      A deck of cards is inexpensive and can be played anywhere, from a kitchen to an airplane. More importantly, a deck of cards opens the door to dozens of different games. Challenge yourself to learn a few in an afternoon.

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                      7. Puzzles

                      Puzzles are great tools for building a specific cognitive skill: visuospatial function. Visuospatial function is important to train because it’s one of the first abilities to slip in people struggling with cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.[5]

                      Choose a puzzle you’ll stick with. There’s no shame in starting with a 500-piece puzzle or choosing one that makes a childish image.

                      8. Playing Music

                      Listening to music is a great way to unwind. But playing music goes one step further. On top of entertaining you, it makes for a fun mental workout.

                      Again, choose an instrument you know you’ll stick with. If you’ve always wanted to learn the violin, don’t get a guitar because it’s less expensive or easier to pick up.

                      What if you can’t afford an instrument? Sing. Learning to control your voice is every bit as challenging as making a set of keys or strings sound good.

                      9. Meditating

                      Not all cognitive exercises are loud, in-your-face activities. Some of the most fun mental workouts, in fact, are quiet, solo activities. Meditating can help you focus, especially if you have pre-existing attention issues.

                      Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never meditated before. It’s easy:

                      • Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
                      • Set a timer for 10 minutes, or for however long you have to meditate.
                      • Close your eyes or turn off the lights.
                      • Focus on your breathing. Do not try to control it.
                      • If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to your breath.
                      • When the timer goes off, wiggle your fingers and toes for a minute. Slowly bring yourself back to reality. Remember the sense of serenity you found.

                      10. Deep Conversation

                      There’s nothing more mentally stimulating than a good, long conversation. The key is depth: surface-level chatter doesn’t get the mind’s wheels spinning like a thoughtful, authentic conversation. This type of conversation helps in training your brain to think more deeply and reflect.

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                      Choose your partner carefully. You’re looking for someone who’ll challenge your ideas without being confrontational. Stress isn’t good for brain health, but there’s value in coming up with creative arguments.

                      11. Cooking

                      When you think about it, cooking requires an impressive array of cognitive skills. Developing a cook’s intuition requires a good memory. Making sure flavors are balanced takes attention to detail. When something goes wrong in the kitchen, problem-solving skills come into play. Motor control is required to stir, flip, and whisk.

                      If you’re going to cook, you might as well make enough for everyone. Invite them into the kitchen as well: coordinating with other chefs adds an extra layer of challenge to this fun mental workout.

                      12. Mentorship

                      Whether you’re the mentee or the mentor, mentorship is an incredible mental workout. Learning from someone you look up to combines the benefits of deep conversation with skill-building. Teaching someone else forces you to put yourself in their shoes, which requires empathy and problem-solving skills.

                      Put yourself in both situations. Being a student makes you a better teacher, and teaching others gives you insight into how you, yourself, learn.

                      Final Thoughts

                      Your mind is your most important possession, and training your brain is needed to maintain its health. Don’t let it get soft.

                      To keep those neurons firing at full speed, add a few fun mental workouts to your schedule. And if you’re still struggling to get your brain in gear, remember: there’s an app for that.

                      More Tips for Training Your Brain

                      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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