HOW TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR BRAIN
HACKING YOUR BRAIN FOR BETTER PERFORMANCE IS SIMPLER THAN YOU THINK. FROM MANAGING STRESS LEVELS TO EMBRACING EXERCISE, SLEEP AND GUT HEALTH, HERE'S WHAT WE RECOMMEND.
A regular exercise routine can be enough to not only minimize the effects of aging on our actual DNA, it can also offset the atrophy of the hippocampus part of the brain. This means that in addition to stress relief and physical health, staying active helps keep us sharp mentally too.
SPEND LESS TIME SITTING DOWN
The positive effects of exercise are easily undone by being a full-time couch potato. While we should be aiming for 2.5 hours of exercise each week, spending 10 hours of your day sedentary is enough to see those benefits disappear. Instead, consider spending more time in nature — this will accentuate all that work you've put into having a happy brain.
Most of us are wonderfully aware of the positive effects of caffeine on cognition, but it's far from the only compound that can help give us a little boost. Consider adding a Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Chaga. and ginkgo biloba to your regimen for a safe, healthy assist for your memory and attention.
While minor stressors can be good for productivity and motivation, chronic stress can be detrimental to both your mental health and to your brain — literally shrinking it or blocking its ability to communicate properly. Making sleep quality a priority is one of the most concrete ways to counteract stress, along with staying active and managing your productivity load — a manageable to-do list helps prevent you from being overwhelmed and offers the satisfaction of accomplishment.
‘‘A lack of sleep causes your grey matter to work less efficiently, thus making it less able to deal with stress.”
Positivity is another doubly beneficial practice, impacting both the quality of day-to-day life, and significantly extending the number of years we can expect to live. Spend time with people who contribute to a positive outlook on life, pursue activities that bring you joy and don't hold on too tightly to negative people or negative feelings. Setting manageable goals and working with a purpose will feed your sense of achievement and help build your positive outlook on life.
LOOK AFTER YOUR GUT
Being mindful of the vast ecology within your gut and keeping it happy not only aids your production of serotonin but also raises your learning capacity and general cognitive functions. An awareness of this means eating a diet with a colour-diversity of vegetables and high-fibre foods, and integrating more fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut that are loaded with probiotics into your diet. That doesn't mean cutting out all fun from your diet: beer for example is rife with yeast and is often associated with a healthy gut!
HAVE MORE SEX
Our sex life is often an overlooked pillar of our cognitive wellbeing but having a healthy sex life is incredibly beneficial. Regular sex reduces our stress levels, improves our mood by releasing positive hormones and endorphins, and even improves neurogenesis — making sex a key factor in supercharging your brain.
Social isolation is one of the most powerful ways we can deplete our mental health. When we don't engage in social situations, far more than simply becoming lonely, we expose the brain to stress hormones. This can hurt its white matter tracts leaving our brain unable to communicate with itself and can ultimately lead to parts of your brain shrinking. However, there is a lot of research showing that if we build a robust social life we can more than counter all of these issues and build up a healthy cognitive reserve.
‘‘Try intermittent fasting. Going without food activates several genetic and metabolic pathways related to survival that can help the brain.””
EAT A COLOURFUL DIET
With our meals we often reduce our side of vegetables to just "greens" to accompany our protein and starch and this can lead to a lack of variety in our diet. When we aim to eat the rainbow instead, we not only diversify the nutritional benefits we get from consuming an array of plants, but also the polyphenols that colour our foods are fantastic cornerstones for our gut health and reduce oxidative stress in the brain.
STOCK UP ON BRAIN SUPERFOODS
Superfoods are loaded with certain nutrients or compounds that have measurable impacts on our body. Including many of these in your diet can play a beneficial role in your cognitive health — for instance, avocado brings a boost of lutein which improves memory and problem solving, and oily fish like trout or salmon help improve your learning ability. Adding more berries to your diet helps combat memory loss and walnuts sharpen both your memory and reflexes.
EXPERIMENT WITH INTERMITTENT FASTING
Intermittent fasting is the practice of purposefully going without food for designated periods of time, often in the form of skipping breakfast. When we forgo a meal or lengthen the time between meals, we activate the evolutionary traits that increase neuroplasticity and autophagy, leaving us sharp and refreshed.
BOOK IN WITH THE HYGIENIST
Believe it or not, taking good care of your mouth means taking good care of your brain. The same bacteria that festers in an unhealthy mouth can get past your gums and into your brain and body, lowering your brain function and increasing your risk for Alzheimer's.
MAKE SOME SIMPLE SWAPS
When it comes down to it, life is a series of choices and the more frequently we make better choices, the better our life can be. So when you need to focus, opt for a matcha or coffee over an energy drink. The former are loaded with antioxidants, the latter with a host of chemicals. Instead of an energy bar, have a fruit and nut bar that gives you healthy fats and probiotics. Remembering to hydrate rather than snacking on sweets will leave you better focused and without the inevitable crash that comes from eating processed foods.
When your work and personal calendar is packed, it’s easy to forget things but constant forgetfulness is actually a sign of stress. If you’re finding it hard to focus or are forgetting things that once came easy to you, give your brain some TLC.
Anxiety can increase digestive acid and lead to heartburn, gas, bloating and diarrhoea. If this sounds familiar, it could be worth reducing stress to better support your brain. Stress can overwork your adrenal glands and reduce production of aldosterone, which regulates fluid levels and can lead to dehydration. The brain is 75% water, so keep this in control.
Don’t simply dismiss those strange dreams. If you find yourself waking up from especially bad or vivid dreams, your brain may be subconsciously dealing with things you haven’t yet accomplished or worked through.
Taking care of your skin is so much more than just a face cream you put on your face. We love to share our knowledge with you. The Read is our way of showing you we care about your skin, body and mind.