Increasing your Mental & Cognitive Functions
Staying sharp in this day and age has never been easier, with ease of access to research and information. So to make it even easier, I’ve put together a few things to do in your daily or weekly schedule that will help you stay sharp, awake, and clear of mind!
*click blue highlighted words for studies, sources, & citations.
Watch Inflammation Levels
Table sugars, red meats, french fries, whole grains, that’s right, these are all common foods we keep in our house. While consuming once in a while or with proper dieting may be fine, excessive and unchecked amounts are strongly linked to high rates of inflammation. When high levels of inflammation occur it causes brain cell life to decrease, and prevents the development & growth of new brain cells within the brain. Some studies are even finding links to high of inflation and depression.
Exercise the Body, Improve the Brain!
That’s right, exercise helps keep the brain happy and healthy. Daily Aerobic exercise is proven to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance, while simultaneously boosting growth factor directly.
Aerobic exercise has also proven indirectly to cause improved moods and sleep, decreasing stress and anxiety. Memory improvements were also seen in short & long term memory, when aerobic and HIIT were preformed.
Reasons for this may be caused by growth in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of the brain, the areas where control thinking and memory exists in the brain.
This was exemplified by the “Zero Hour Napperville Case Study“, that found students who joined their “Learning Readiness P.E.” class saw significant increases to their performance in literacy and mathematics as well as in other general studies as retention and focus improved.
Don’t Miss out on Key Nutrients
While I won’t get into too much detail on diet, what we eat has a profound effect on if and how our brain functions. Sometimes increasing or decreasing things like inflammation, other times simply draining essential nutrients from the body that the brain requires to function fully.
Key nutrients for the brain include Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Omega-3, Lutein, Folate, Flavonoids, Beta-Carotene, and even caffeine!
You can find these nutrients in foods such as Berries, Fish, Nuts, Avocados, Flax Seeds, and Leafy Greens.
Adding Music to Your Skill Set!
Recent studies have discovered a growing connection between learning music and development of verbal skills, second language learning, non verbal reasoning, and general intelligence. This occurs due to music training promoting nuero-plasticity, which is the brains way of tuning its self. While this research is still developing and ongoing, it shows great promise for advancements in cognitive understanding and improvement. Learning a second language showed similar results but less effect.
Literacy and Mathematics
The last study I checked out covered a series of tests aimed at older adults. It had them working from a targeted program focused on stimulating the dorsalateral prefrontal cortex and ran for 23 weeks. At the end of the study they found significant growth and benefits to nuero-plasticity similar to music learning as well as an increase to lexical flexibility & Verbal fluency.