Your brain is a muscle, so make sure you exercise it!
With the majority of us spending most of our time at home these days, it can be easy to fall into the trap of spending hours in front of the TV or mindlessly scrolling on social media, so much so that your eyes glaze over and you stop taking notice of what you’re even looking at anymore!
To keep our minds from turning to mush and prevent us from pickling our brains and turning into vegetables for the remainder of lockdown, it’s important that we keep our brain health in check. The brain is the most important muscle in the body, so we need to keep it healthy and active by exercising it every day. Not sure how? Follow our tips below.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “brain food” this is exactly what we mean. Your brain is the control centre of your body, so it’s vital that you feed it properly so it can function on full capacity, keep your memory sharp and improve your concentration skills.
Oily fish, including salmon, tuna, herring and sardines, contain Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for learning and memory. Omega-3s help build membranes around each cell in the body, including the brain cells. They can, therefore, improve the structure of brain cells called neurons. A study from 2017 found that people with high levels of omega-3 had an increased blood flow to the brain, and researchers also identified a connection between omega-3 levels and better cognition or thinking abilities.
Other foods such as nuts, eggs and whole grains are also good for brain health, as are leafy green vegetables such as broccoli. These little miniature trees contain vitamin K that forms a type of fat, sphingolipids, which are heavily packed into brain cells, helping to boost brain power.
A lot of us have been working from home since March last year, and with that in mind, carrying out monotonous tasks day in, day out in front of a screen can leave us feeling zombie-like. To keep your brain ticking over, we need to challenge it to keep it sharp.
Why not set aside some time each day for puzzles and problem solving? These could be anything from a simple word-search or jigsaw to something slightly harder like Sudoku or even a Rubik's cube. If you have a partner with you, boards games or chess are just as effective at keeping those cogs turning and strengthening your concentration and problem solving skills.
It has been claimed by a number of experts over the years that if you don’t stay hydrated throughout the day, your energy levels can be effected and your brain function will begin to suffer. There is research that seems to back this up, too. A study from the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut, which focused on young, healthy women, discovered that a fluid loss of 1.36% after exercise impaired mood and concentration and increased the likelihood of headaches.
Further studies, including one from the Units of Psychology and Bioenergetics and Environment in France, found that mild dehydration (one to three percent of body weight) had a negative effect on the function of the brain.
To keep your water levels topped up, make sure you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day, and ensure you get a good glug of it first thing in the morning, last thing at night and before meal times too.