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8 Delightful Benefits Only People Who Meditate Would Know

8 Delightful Benefits Only People Who Meditate Would Know

For thousands of years, meditation has been used to help the body, the mind, and the spirit. Today, meditation is making news as a reliever of stress, a way to lower blood pressure, a way to improve focus and even as a way to reduce violence and negative emotions. As meditation guru Deepak Chopra likes to point out, “Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering the quiet that is already there.” What do people who have a meditation practice want you to know about people who meditate?

1. We are happier.

Dascher Keltner, head of Berkeley’s Positive Psychology Program teaches that meditation boosts positive emotion, lowers negative emotion, and strengthens coping mechanisms. Meditation is one of many tools that schools and workplaces are employing to increase well-being of students and workers.

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2. We are healthier.

The vagus nerve literally connects the heart to the brain. In studies, people who meditated for up to 15 minutes once a day showed improved vagal tone. This means reduced levels of stress chemicals like cortisol. Reducing the body’s exposure to these while improving vagal tone has been shown to decrease chance of stroke and heart attack. A recent study even showed that meditators were able to change the piece of DNA, the telomere, that controls the aging of cells.

3. We are more creative.

People who meditate regularly have reported both greater sense of creativity and a feeling of “direct downloads” from the universe. Where was the song before the composer wrote it? Where was the dance before the choreographer set it? Although we don’t have scientific answers to these questions yet, we do know that people who meditate experience a measured increase in creativity and innovation.

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4. We feel connected.

When we meditate, we are going within, and yet one of the paradoxes of meditating is that by spending time with yourself, you feel a greater sense of connection to others.

5. We let go more easily.

We don’t hold on to grudges, or fear, or pain. By spending time in meditation, we turn up our ability to be compassionate and empathetic, and we spend less time in critical self-rumination.

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6. We feel pain less and pleasure more.

When people who experience chronic pain due to disease were taught meditation, they reported a reduction of pain and an increase of their tolerance for the pain they had. Meditation actually changes the brain and teaches it the skill of self-generating positive emotion.

7. We are more resilient.

People who meditate have a healthier stress response than non-meditators. The results of bran scans on meditators shows different areas of the brain being used in stressful situation by meditators. By sitting silently for a few minutes each day you actually change the density of grey matter and the right to left ratio. This means that when things go wrong, our brain is better at thinking its way out of the situation and coping with the stress. We become skilled at seeing half-full.

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8. We are kind.

People who meditate use that sense of connection to become more pro-social. That is a fancy way of saying that people who meditate are more likely to volunteer, donate or be heroic.

And if you need more reasons to get you started.

In prison, meditation reduces hostility issues. In studies of veterans who had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, there is a reduction of incidents when mindful meditation is introduced. Children who are taught to meditate score better on tests and have decreased anxiety around testing. I have yet to uncover any studies that show anything bad about meditating.

If you haven’t started I encourage you to register for a 21-day meditation challenge, start a home practice or download a guided meditation app. Spending time alone may seem daunting in today’s busy world, but as the Zen proverb says, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day, unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

Featured photo credit: Young girl meditating at the sea via shutterstock.com

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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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