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Mind & Body Wellness

Make 2019 The Year of Your Healthy Brain

Before 2018 is firmly in the rearview mirror, most people will participate in the honored tradition of making their New Year’s resolutions. There are many resolutions that may be spoken but not kept. However, there is one that is well worth the effort: improving your brain health. Here’s how to do it this year:

Make changes to boost your brain power:

1) Get more sleep

Sleep is an amazing tool that is too frequently neglected. If you can add more sleep into your daily routine you will find a marked improvement in your overall ability to concentrate, make decisions, and manage stress.

2) Speaking of reducing stress…

A simple way to eliminate stress is to start by recognizing and addressing it. It’s easy to say “work, kids, and life stress me out,” but if you take a second to identify and deal with these stressors one at a time, you’ll find that they’re easier to manage. Additionally, you can practice deep breathing.

3) Exercise – It’s not as bad as you think

Exercise is key to overall health, but the amount of exercise needed to give you mental clarity is fairly small. Exercising to boost your brain can be as simple as walking for a few minutes or taking the stairs. Try setting a timer for ten minutes while working on an intense work project. If you take time to stand and stretch during those ten minutes, you may find that your mental clarity improves when you resume your work.

Eat foods to boost your brain power:

While there is no food to make your brain function like a well-oiled machine all day, there are some that have benefits such as added energy. This increase in energy can be the kick your brain needs to stay on task and work harder and smarter.

brain-healthy-foods

1. Vegetables – the greener the better

Vegetables make great daily snacks, not only for your waistline but also for your energy. Not all vegetables are created equal, so look for the ones with the most chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what makes plants green. It is also a great tool for getting oxygen into your blood, providing our cells with a good source of energy, which is great for brain function. Here are some good-for-your-brain greens: kale, Swiss chard, wheatgrass, and arugula. There are also some nutrient-rich algae to consider such as spirulina and chlorella (available in supplemental powders – add them to smoothies or fruity yogurt).

2. Don’t be afraid of carbs

A lot of stories recommend  ditching the carbs, but in the process you’re losing some serious brain support fuel. You can have carbs as long as they are the right ones. Think complex carbs – steel-cut oats, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat bread. These carbs give you glucose energy but have a low glycemic index (GI) – the rate at which food sugar enters cells. Low GI foods are better for keeping energy higher longer.

 3 . Give bee pollen a try

Bee pollen is very high in B vitamins and all amino acids. This is important because these substances are big energy creators. They increase your red blood cell count, which, in turn, increases oxygenated blood.

4. Don’t forget fatty acids

DHA Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish – salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and trout) and brain function go hand in hand. DHA is not something we naturally create in our bodies, but adding it through our diet can support vital brain function like memory.

In addition to fish, DHA can be found in seeds such as flax, chia, and hemp. These are easily added to green salads, yogurt, smoothies, or cereal. Another great source of DHA comes from the tasty walnut.

5.  Indulge in Chocolate

Before your chocolate bar becomes a sweet treat it starts as cacao (the raw bean form). This natural bean is packed with brain powering magnesium and phenylethylamine compounds (PEA) that stimulate the central nervous system. This all adds up to more focus! Cacao also contains flavonoids – antioxidants that are good for your brain.To get the best form of cacao look for organic or vegan chocolate bars. They usually have what you want without all the additives.

Eddie Fatakhov, M.D., a.k.a. Dr. Fat-off, is a board-certified physician; a nutritionist; and a best-selling author. His latest book is Dr. Fat-Off: Simple Life-Long Weight-Loss Solutions. To find out more about his work, click here.

 

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