From the mid 20s, brain function starts to decline, although you may not notice this until decades later. New learning experiences help stop the rot by strengthening and extending the connections (and networks) in the brain that enable us to store memories and stay sharp. However bad your memory is now, mental aerobics, good nutrition and moderate physical activity can improve thinking and memory skills.
The herb Ginkgo biloba has earned its reputation as a brain tonic because it has a beneficial effect on the peripheral blood circulation, improving blood supply to the brain. (It helps with hemorrhoids and varicose veins for the same reason.) Gingko is prescribed to dementia patients in France and Germany. Take as herbal extract or tincture as prescribed by your herbalist or following instructions on the pack. Avoid if taking other medication.
Everyday mental challenges
Get into the habit of tackling a crossword or Sudoku puzzle most days. One study found that people who complete a crossword four times a week appeared to reduce their risk of dementia by 47 percent.
Become a lifelong student
Continuing study through each new decade keeps the brain performing in a youthful way. Book an adult education course (to maintain interest make it a subject you feel passionate about), join a book group or local history society, a choir with a challenging and changing repertoire, or try something practical such as car maintenance. The group aspect is important because socializing keeps the memory sharp and brain agile.[/column]
Set an alarm to ring in five minutes. Sit with your spine upright, feet flat on the floor, palms resting on thighs. Relax your shoulders and jaw and switch off from everyday concerns. Close your eyes.
Focus on your breath moving in and out. Let this steer you away from trains of thought. If it helps, breathe in to a count of three or four. Exhale to the same count. When distractions arise, focus on your counting or awareness of your flow of breath in and out.
Return to regular breathing as the alarm rings and slowly open your eyes. Once you feel easy with the technique, increase meditation time in increments of 5 minutes.
Consume foods containing plant antioxidants, such as spinach and blueberries. An American study suggests this helps reverse mental decline as we age. Plants that are also rich in folate are even better: researchers found older men who ate folate-rich leafy greens and citrus fruit had significantly less age-related decline in memory and brain function over three years than those whose diets were low in folate.
Zinc for thinking
Zinc helps us think (find it in meat, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and onions). Absorption is blocked by a large intake of iron so monitor your zinc intake diligently if you have an iron-rich diet.
Care about choline
In a study of adults over 50, a five week supplement of choline halved memory lapse. This mineral aids the absorption and use of good fats, vital for cell membranes, and helps the transmission of signals across nerve endings in the brain’s networks. Add meat, nuts, and eggs into your diet daily.
Unplug the phone
The constant ping of emails and interruption of phone calls can cause IQ to drop by 10 points found a study commissioned by Hewlett-Packard, leading to loss of concentration and problem-solving skills. Unplug the phone and resist the temptation to check emails for two-hour runs when you need to achieve results. Get up and walk across the office to talk to people instead, which also counts toward your daily activity quotient.[end_columns]
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