Your brain is the center of your cognition. A healthy high functioning brain can allow you to think faster, process quicker, and maintain the regularity of your neurotransmitters.
But improving your brain health is not as black and white as improving other areas of your health. For example, improving your cardiovascular health is as simple as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
With your brain, it’s less easy to identify how to improve your health. However, there are plenty of ways to do it.
Here are a few of our tips to improve your brain function naturally.
Give Puzzles and Word Games a Try
Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, and other word games are great for recruiting your brainpower and stimulating your brain activity.
Studies indicate that performing jigsaw puzzles recruits many different cognitive functions in your brain. Research also points to jigsaw puzzles as a possible protective factor against visuospatial cognitive decline associated with aging. Visuospatial cognition is your ability to visualize and perceive spacing and moving images in your mind.
Crossword puzzles are another great way to keep your brain engaged and work on deductive reasoning skills. Trying your hand at a few more puzzles in your day-to-day life can help protect your brain from cognitive decline and support a healthy brain.
Eat Fatty Fish More Often
Fatty fish like salmon, trout, albacore tuna, and sardines are incredibly good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Almost 30% of your brain is made of omega3 fatty acids.
There are tons of benefits for your brain when you consume more healthy fats like fish, avocados, walnuts, and olive oil in your diet. EAting more omega-3s appears to help fight off age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s development.
Not only that, but studies also seem to show that people who consume fish regularly have more grey matter in their brains. Grey matter is the outer matter of your brain that houses a majority of the brain's neurons.
The research seems pretty clear that consuming fatty fish and omega-3 fatty acids can directly lead to a healthier brain.
Learn a New Skill
It is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. Challenging yourself to pick up a new hobby like knitting, learning a new language, or playing a musical instrument may even help keep your brain young and healthy.
A study from 2014 found that adults who were learning a skill with a high degree of cognitive demand, such as photography, saw enhanced memory abilities.
This seems to indicate that merely learning new skills stimulates brain activity and keeps you building new neural pathways that keep your brain young.
If you have always wanted to learn the guitar, paint, or knit a sweater, there is no time like the present. Your brain will thank you.
Eat High Antioxidant Foods
Is there anything antioxidants can’t do?
Antioxidants are compounds that fight off free radicals in your body. Free radicals are the major cause of oxidative stress and damage to your body, including your brain.
Antioxidants seem to have strong anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent brain aging and neurodegenerative disease.
Great sources of antioxidants to eat for your brain health are berries, broccoli, green tea, and leafy greens like spinach.
Blueberries are amongst the best antioxidant fruits for brain health. A review of several studies found that eating blueberries helps to improve memory and other cognitive functions in both children and adults.
Consider eating more foods that are high in antioxidants. It may just give your brain an extra boost and keep your cognition sharp.
Of course, it's always beneficial to eat a well-rounded diet of healthy foods like vegetables, whole grains including oatmeal or pasta, and even dark chocolate.
Embracing a Mediterranean diet with less red meat can help create a lower risk of many ailments, including heart disease and cognitive decline, as can embracing vitamins and minerals like vitamin E and B vitamins. Cutting back on bad habits like excessive caffeine, regular alcohol consumption, and avoiding tobacco may also help your brain cells thrive.
Mental exercise isn't the only way to aid your brain health. It should come as no surprise that regular physical activity also brings brain-boosting effects.
Many researchers have found links between cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure to increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
A 2019 review concludes that exercising regularly improves and protects memory, cognition, and motor coordination—all areas of the brain which are traditionally susceptible to cognitive decline.
It is good to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. A common way to break this up is to get 30 minutes of exercise five days per week. Breaking it into manageable pieces like this can make regular exercise easy and fun.
Consume Pre and Probiotics
Probiotics are a fancy name for the helpful bacteria that live in your gut. Your gut is home to thousands of living organisms, many of which help your body perform all sorts of functions, and they even help out your brain.
Your brain and gut are connected via something called the gut-brain axis. The gut-brain axis is how your gut and brain communicate, and your gut has a strong impact on your brain functioning.
This study from the Frontiers of Neuroscience found that patients suffering from Alzheimer's that were given a mixture of certain probiotics saw a positive effect on learning and memory power.
Prebiotics are the food sources for your probiotics. Prebiotics are mostly plant fiber, found in all sorts of delicious fruits and veggies.
A great way to feed your gut and brain is our very own VINA prebiotic soda. VINA is a zero-calorie, prebiotic fortified soda that tastes great and works with your body to promote a happy and healthy gut.
There is still research being done to discover the true extent of the power of probiotics on your brain health, but the research is promising that pre and probiotics can support your brain.
Give Meditation a Try
Meditation has been around for thousands of years, and researchers are finally proving the incredible health benefits that come from mindfulness and meditation.
Research done by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health seems to show that participating in meditation regularly slows the aging of the brain and improves the ability to process new information.
Getting in the habit of meditating daily or at least a few times a week may give your brain a slight advantage and help you improve your cognition.
Make Sure You Get Proper Sleep
You’ll probably be thrilled to hear this advice; sleeping more is better for your brain.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke suggests that adults typically need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. However, if you are like most adults, you don’t typically get your full night’s sleep.
Getting a healthy amount of sleep each night does wonders for your brain. A 2015 review found that sleep improves memory recall and reduces mental fatigue.
Make sure that you are getting enough sleep each night to protect your brain and improve your cognition. Try to set up good nighttime habits like putting your phone and other screens away thirty minutes before bedtime to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Brain Improvement Takeaways
Your brain is among the most important organs of your body, providing you with thought and regulating the most important bodily functions.
Improving and maintaining brain health is vital to living a happy and healthy life and keeping you healthy and independent through your old age.
If you are looking to improve your brain health, try one of these tips, or better yet, a combination of a few of them. Plus, when it’s as easy as drinking a delicious soda like VINA, why not?
Keeping your brain healthy now and for the long run requires vigilance, so take a few of these ideas and let them become a habit. Your brain will hopefully reward you with faster processing, less fatigue, better memory, and lowered risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Jigsaw Puzzling Taps Multiple Cognitive Abilities and Is a Potential Protective Factor for Cognitive Aging | NIH
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and their Role in Central Nervous System - A Review | NIH
Fish consumption and risk of incident dementia in elderly Japanese: the Ohsaki cohort 2006 study | NIH
Fish Intake May Affect Brain Structure and Improve Cognitive Ability in Healthy People | NIH
The Impact of Sustained Engagement on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Synapse Project
Understanding oxidants and antioxidants: Classical team with new players | NIH
Systematic Review of the Effects of Blueberry on Cognitive Performance as We Age | NIH
Roles of myokines in exercise-induced improvement of neuropsychiatric function - Pflügers Archiv | European Journal of Physiology
Effect of Probiotic Supplementation on Cognitive Function and Metabolic Status in Alzheimer's Disease: A Randomized, Double-Blind and Controlled Trial | DOI
Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep | NIH