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8 Ways To Boost Brain Health, Memory and Focus

8 Ways To Boost Brain Health, Memory and Focus
Sophia Power, BA Media, BHScNutMed 

Feeling foggy, fatigued or forgetful?

There are times in life when memory and brain function can take a bit of a hit. Whether you’ve just taken up learning something new, had a baby recently or been unwell, it’s common to struggle with memory and poor focus from time to time.

If you’re worried that your memory, focus or overall brain health isn’t as good as it could be, keep reading for some simple tips to getting your brain back online. 

#1 Eat for brain health 

Eating for better memory and brain health is not only real, it’s delicious! What foods support brain health? Foods higher in healthy fats help brain cells communicate more effectively with each other - the result? Quick thinking and better decision-making abilities. 

Omega 3 fats from oily fish, chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds are great for brain cell health. Another fat known as choline, found in cauliflower, eggs, chicken, beans and salmon is actually proven to protect brain health while improving memory.1

#2 Keep blood sugars level 

Blood sugar can spike and drop throughout the day for a number of reasons. The main causes are regular consumption of sugary, low-fibre foods and drinks and minimal exercise. 

These spikes and crashes can wreak havoc on the body, often being the culprit behind poor sleep, low mood, fatigue and yep, focus and concentration.

Eating plenty of healthy fats, protein and high fibre foods keeps blood sugar levels stable and will help you avoid reaching for sweet snacks.

#3 Boost your circulation 

Circulation is about getting blood and the nutrients and oxygen contained in the blood to where they need to go. Poor circulation doesn’t just lead to cold hands and feet, it can actually reduce cognitive function too.2

Try dry brushing first thing in the morning before your shower and increase cardiovascular exercise to get your blood pumping. 

#4 Herbs for memory and focus 

Rosemary, ginkgo, brahmi and gotu kola are just some of the herbs that help to boost brain function, memory and even mood by improving that all-important blood circulation to the brain.

Although technically a tea, not a herb, green tea is also shown to boost memory and protect the brain.3

#5 Include these vitamins for focus and memory

If low energy is contributing to brain fog or poor memory, try increasing your intake of B vitamin-rich foods.

Eat an array of whole foods, including whole grains, seeds, chicken, beans, leafy green vegetables, eggs, red meat and seafood to get optimal amounts of B vitamins - especially folate, B6 and B12. 

#6 Relax 

How you relax is up to you, but getting your stress levels down is vital to brain health and function. Chronic stress, i.e. never slowing down and unwinding, is shown to harm brain cells and even reduce brain size over time. Yikes!

Meditation, sleep, journaling or other relaxing activities to clear space in your mind and help with clarity of thought. Meditation isn’t just great for clear thinking, it also helps aid memory and focus and even protects against cognitive decline.4

#7 Never stop learning 

Memory games, puzzles, learning a new language, instrument or skill - anything that challenges the brain also strengthens memory. 

Pick something you’ve always wanted to learn to boost your chances of sticking with it while improving your memory and attention span. 

#8 Exercise 

Regular, moderate intensity exercise supports brain health by improving cognitive performance and problem-solving abilities. Aiming for 150 minutes per week (just 20 minutes per day!) of a mix of aerobic and resistance training has also been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus - the part of the brain involved in memory and learning.5

Exercise also helps with those other important factors for brain health - reducing blood glucose spikes and boosting circulation! 

Changing your brain for the better can be done by including some small habits that have great benefits for overall health and wellbeing. 

References: 

  1. Blusztajn, J.K., Slack, B.E., Mellott, T.J. (2017). Neuroprotective actions of dietary choline. Nutrients, 9(8):815.
  2. Leeuwis, A.E., Smith, L.A., Melbourne, A., Hughes, A.D., Richards, M. (2018). Cerebral blood flow and cognitive functioning in a community-based, multi-ethnic cohort: The SABRE study. Front. Age. Neurosci. 
  3. Liu, Y., Fly, A.D., Wang, Z., Klaunig, Z.W. (2018). The effects of green tea extract on working memory in healthy women. J Nutr Health Ageing, 22(3):446-450. 
  4. Gard, T., Holzel, B.K., Lazar, S.W. (2014). The potential effects of meditation on age-related cognitive decline: a systematic review. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 1307:89-103. 
  5. Nagamatsu, L.S., Flicker, L., Kramer, A.F., Voss, M.W., Erickson, K.I., et al. (2014). Exercise is medicine, for the body and the brain. Br J Sports Med, 48(12):943-944. 

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