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Nature’s Way—The Perfect Reset Button

Nature’s Way—The Perfect Reset Button

The first five minutes were always the worst: mentally exhausted, my body just wanted to crash down into the sofa, and my hand to reach out for the TV-controls and a cold beer to start the lovely process of switching off.

A typical work day for me repeatedly consisted of a 2-hour-plus commute, and site meetings with poor coffee followed by hours of drawing production in front of a computer screen. Certainly taxing in what it demanded of me, but nothing extraordinary compared to many jobs out there today. My point is this: we´re all pretty done-for as we head to unlock our front doors after a busy day at work, and though spending the next 5 to 10 minutes getting out of your smarts and into your training outfit may not be among the first things you want to do after hanging up your work bag, the payback can be amazing!

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Me, I like to run. It is something I picked up in High School and I guess, even though I’ve tried a lot of different sports, I’ve always reverted back to it by choice when I felt my body was going through a lengthy period without any form of training.

Now, I must say I’m pretty lucky. You see, I live in close proximity to large areas of forest and country gravel roads, so getting into an area where I’m more or less on my own is really easy. I wouldn´t say this is crucial to gain the most from a run, but I once took a jog around the city centre of Buenos Aires whilst there on a business trip, and I must say I found it hard to get into the training “zone” that enables us to reset our energy levels. To give you a feel for what I mean with the chosen word “reset” in the headline, I want to give you a short commentary from one of my favourite running routes.

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Starting out is as always hard—it takes the body some time to get warmed up for the task you’re demanding of it, and this time interval is different from person to person. For me, this is typically the first kilometre of tarmac road leading through our neighbourhood and down towards the path leading to the forest. One or two kilometres into the run, and I start feeling that my breathing is coming down, and the rhythm feels steady. Most importantly, I always start out easy to give my ligaments, tendons and joints a decent time period to warm up—especially if I´m running during the winter season.

I mentioned the training “zone”. This, to me, is a state of mind where I no longer think too much about the technique of running; avoiding rocks, cars, people out walking their dogs and so on. It’s as if I’ve gone into auto-drive mode. My mind then starts thinking more freely and meditatively. I’ve had the wildest ideas originate from these running sessions for sure, and it’s not unusual that I also sometimes lose my way if I’ve drifted into unfamiliar territory.

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So this “zone” constitutes nature’s way of allowing us to switch off momentarily and reset our energy levels. Could I compare it to what sleep does to us at night? Sure—I guess it shares some of the same benefits, but while we sleep, the body receives no exercise. I thoroughly believe it´s the combination of physical strain and allowing the mind to drift that leaves you with such a feeling of massive benefit and payoff. Not everyone reading this article knows this, but one of the reasons why we feel so good when we run, or do any other physical exercise for that matter, is the fact that the body produces its own anaesthetic called endorphins. This is our body´s way of smoothing over the discomfort and pain we might be feeling doing the physical work we impose upon it, and like the effects of a mild morphine, it makes you feel good.

A doctor I once knew told me that the body needs a good “revving”, as he would call it, once a day. What he meant was that the body needed to be physically challenged and brought up to peak performance ever so often. All the organs, including the brain, need a quick flow of blood to keep them working optimally and regenerating cells and tissue. He would indeed challenge me to make a point of running hard to catch the train in the morning, or push myself up a hill and keep my pace going over the top.

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Now, I mentioned payoff—As everyone´s experience to physical exercise seems to be different, there´s no way I could sum up an overall feeling for pushing your body up and out of the sofa, but I can say this: my monthly budget for sports-related gear constantly seems to be growing…

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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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