Want more brain power? How to improve your cognitive function

Want more brain power? How to improve your cognitive function

Author -  Good Health

Memory function and cognition is declining worldwide. In New Zealand, there are over 70,000 people living with dementia; experiencing loss of cognitive function due to changes in the structure and functioning of the brain. This number is expected to increase by close to 150% by 2050. With increasing brain stimulation in the digital world and the rise of neurodegenerative diseases, it is important to prioritise our brain health. From a young age our brain works hard, making and strengthening neural connections as we learn, grow and have new experiences. This should not stop as we grow older. No matter your age, new nerve cells are continuously produced in the hippocampus, a brain region involved with the formation of new memories. As we become more aware of ways to support our mental health in regards to mood disorders, we must also realise the need to actively support our cognitive function.

01-Brain-article.jpg

Ask yourself: are you dehydrated?

Up to 60% of the human body is water. Water is required by every cell, helping to support our energy levels and transport nutrients and oxygen to the brain. It can be hard to keep fluids up when you are busy, however it is important for productivity that we drink enough water. Common symptoms of dehydration include brain fog, fatigue and lack of focus, however these are easily relieved simply by drinking more water! On average, adults should be drinking 2-3 litres of water per day, more if you are exercising or drinking coffee.

Make the most of winter and get enough sleep

Feeling tired? Lack of sleep impacts our cognitive function. It impairs our ability to hold attention and impacts our memory, both immediate and long-term memory pathways. When we sleep our cells repair themselves, so that our neural pathways strengthen and our memories consolidate. Everyone needs different amounts of sleep, but as a rule of thumb ensure you are getting around 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.

02-Brain-article.jpg

Look to Nootropic herbs: Bacopa & Sage

Nootropics are cognitive enhancing. Derived from ‘noos’ (mind) and ‘trope’ (turning) – they help to “turn” your mind on and heighten your learning capacity and cognitive performance.

Bacopa

An Ayurvedic herb used in medicinal treatments since 3000BC, Bacopa monnieri or Brahmi is well known as a brain protector and memory enhancer. Bacopa is also considered a natural nootropic agent, helping to enhance cognitive function and intelligence. Bacopa works to enhance brain function in a number of ways. As a brain tonic, Bacopa improves concentration and learning by reducing nervous exhaustion, relaxing and enhancing blood vessels and helping the body to respond better to stress. As an antioxidant, Bacopa works to protect the brain from harmful oxidation, as well as strengthening our body’s own antioxidant mechanisms. Bacopa has direct effects on key areas of the brain such as the hippocampus and frontal cortex, making it useful for improved attention, memory retention, verbal learning and comprehension. Research has found that Bacopa may be beneficial for disorders of memory impairment such as Alzheimers, and may assist even in total loss of memory. Bacopa also has an adaptogenic ability, helping the body’s stress response by influencing stress hormone release and brain neurotransmitter production.

Sage

Derived from ‘salvere’ (to heal), Sage has a long history of use across Ayurvedic, Chinese, Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian medicine. Commonly known as an estrogenic herb where it helps to boost our mood and control body temperature, Sage has recently been suggested as a nootropic agent due to its cognitive enhancing effects. Working as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, Sage helps to protect the brain from damage, as well as supporting healthy circulation to the brain. Research suggests Sage improves memory quality, enhances recall, attention span and reduces fatigue in both young and old test subjects.

04-Brain-article.jpg

Don’t be scared of egg yolks

Full of brain supporting nutrients, eggs (including the yolk) are a beneficial addition to the diet. A wonderful source of choline, once known as vitamin B4, choline increases healthy circulation to the brain, protects the brain from oxidative stress, improves response time and helps the body to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which has a key role in memory and cognition. Eggs are easily incorporated in the diet at any meal, and as a great source of both fat and protein, they will give your mind plenty of fuel!

Eat Essential Fatty Acids

Composed of nearly 60% fat, the brain requires omega-3 essential fatty acids for optimal health. However, because these cannot be produced by the body, they need to be obtained from dietary sources, most commonly oily fish. Essential fatty acids (especially DHA) support the structure of the brain, reducing inflammation and oxidation and enhancing the growth of new brain cells. Essential fatty acids are well known for their benefit on mental health and research has also found that it may be a protective factor against age related cognitive decline (individuals with Alzheimers have been shown to have lower than optimal amounts in their diet).

03-Brain-article.jpg

The brain is responsible for the co-ordination of all our activities, as well as being the source of our knowledge, holding our memories and helping to define who we are. It is a common myth that as we age, our cognition naturally declines; when given the right support, the brain can continue to make new neural connections, and thrive well into your later years. What we eat, drink and supplement each day has a long lasting effect on our brain health. The trick is to start today and enhance your brain health for tomorrow.

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Want more brain power? How to improve your cognitive function

Memory function and cognition is declining worldwide. In New Zealand, there are over 70,000 people living with dementia; experiencing loss of cognitive function due to changes in the structure and functioning of the brain. This number is expected to increase by close to 150% by 2050. With increasing brain stimulation in the digital world and the rise of neurodegenerative diseases, it is important to prioritise our brain health. From a young age our brain works hard, making and strengthening neural connections as we learn, grow and have new experiences. This should not stop as we grow older. No matter your age, new nerve cells are continuously produced in the hippocampus, a brain region involved with the formation of new memories. As we become more aware of ways to support our mental health in regards to mood disorders, we must also realise the need to actively support our cognitive function.

01-Brain-article.jpg

Ask yourself: are you dehydrated?

Up to 60% of the human body is water. Water is required by every cell, helping to support our energy levels and transport nutrients and oxygen to the brain. It can be hard to keep fluids up when you are busy, however it is important for productivity that we drink enough water. Common symptoms of dehydration include brain fog, fatigue and lack of focus, however these are easily relieved simply by drinking more water! On average, adults should be drinking 2-3 litres of water per day, more if you are exercising or drinking coffee.

Make the most of winter and get enough sleep

Feeling tired? Lack of sleep impacts our cognitive function. It impairs our ability to hold attention and impacts our memory, both immediate and long-term memory pathways. When we sleep our cells repair themselves, so that our neural pathways strengthen and our memories consolidate. Everyone needs different amounts of sleep, but as a rule of thumb ensure you are getting around 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.

02-Brain-article.jpg

Look to Nootropic herbs: Bacopa & Sage

Nootropics are cognitive enhancing. Derived from ‘noos’ (mind) and ‘trope’ (turning) – they help to “turn” your mind on and heighten your learning capacity and cognitive performance.

Bacopa

An Ayurvedic herb used in medicinal treatments since 3000BC, Bacopa monnieri or Brahmi is well known as a brain protector and memory enhancer. Bacopa is also considered a natural nootropic agent, helping to enhance cognitive function and intelligence. Bacopa works to enhance brain function in a number of ways. As a brain tonic, Bacopa improves concentration and learning by reducing nervous exhaustion, relaxing and enhancing blood vessels and helping the body to respond better to stress. As an antioxidant, Bacopa works to protect the brain from harmful oxidation, as well as strengthening our body’s own antioxidant mechanisms. Bacopa has direct effects on key areas of the brain such as the hippocampus and frontal cortex, making it useful for improved attention, memory retention, verbal learning and comprehension. Research has found that Bacopa may be beneficial for disorders of memory impairment such as Alzheimers, and may assist even in total loss of memory. Bacopa also has an adaptogenic ability, helping the body’s stress response by influencing stress hormone release and brain neurotransmitter production.

Sage

Derived from ‘salvere’ (to heal), Sage has a long history of use across Ayurvedic, Chinese, Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian medicine. Commonly known as an estrogenic herb where it helps to boost our mood and control body temperature, Sage has recently been suggested as a nootropic agent due to its cognitive enhancing effects. Working as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, Sage helps to protect the brain from damage, as well as supporting healthy circulation to the brain. Research suggests Sage improves memory quality, enhances recall, attention span and reduces fatigue in both young and old test subjects.

04-Brain-article.jpg

Don’t be scared of egg yolks

Full of brain supporting nutrients, eggs (including the yolk) are a beneficial addition to the diet. A wonderful source of choline, once known as vitamin B4, choline increases healthy circulation to the brain, protects the brain from oxidative stress, improves response time and helps the body to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which has a key role in memory and cognition. Eggs are easily incorporated in the diet at any meal, and as a great source of both fat and protein, they will give your mind plenty of fuel!

Eat Essential Fatty Acids

Composed of nearly 60% fat, the brain requires omega-3 essential fatty acids for optimal health. However, because these cannot be produced by the body, they need to be obtained from dietary sources, most commonly oily fish. Essential fatty acids (especially DHA) support the structure of the brain, reducing inflammation and oxidation and enhancing the growth of new brain cells. Essential fatty acids are well known for their benefit on mental health and research has also found that it may be a protective factor against age related cognitive decline (individuals with Alzheimers have been shown to have lower than optimal amounts in their diet).

03-Brain-article.jpg

The brain is responsible for the co-ordination of all our activities, as well as being the source of our knowledge, holding our memories and helping to define who we are. It is a common myth that as we age, our cognition naturally declines; when given the right support, the brain can continue to make new neural connections, and thrive well into your later years. What we eat, drink and supplement each day has a long lasting effect on our brain health. The trick is to start today and enhance your brain health for tomorrow.

Want more brain power? How to improve your cognitive function
 
 
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