To improve brain function, you don't need to take any stimulants or spend time on apps that promise to make users smarter. Renowned neurosurgeon Rahul Jandial urges to turn instead to proven methods. In his book Neurofitness, he gives many simple tips to help keep your brain healthy. Here are a few of them.
By processing, organizing, and remembering new information, the brain increases the number of neurons and the connections between them. This builds cognitive reserve and helps delay age-related intellectual decline.
Learning languages is especially useful. According to research, people who know and use at least one foreign language in everyday life experience cognitive decline an average of four years later
💪 Exercise with strength.
Another important prerequisite for maintaining cognitive ability is regular physical activity that combines aerobics and strength training. They provide your brain with oxygen, keep your heart and blood vessels toned. And most importantly - provide a high content of growth factor in the brain fluid. It is necessary for the nourishment of neurons.
Moreover, cardio workouts, Jandial notes, are less beneficial for the elderly brain than resistance exercises. Another type of exercise that has shown its effect on the brain is tai chi gymnastics.
👐 Develop the non-directional hand.
If you are right-handed, use your left hand and if you are left-handed, use your right hand. For example, regularly perform simple everyday actions with it: brush your teeth and write, at least one word.
Or learn something that requires coordinated work of both hands, for example, playing a musical instrument.
That way you'll activate the parts of the brain associated with the non-dominant hand and increase the number of neurons and neural connections in them
🚶 Use the map on your smartphone less often
A special group of neurons, the grid cells, help people orient themselves in space. In Alzheimer's disease, the brain begins to lose them among the first.
It is almost impossible to stop this process, but it is possible to delay it. To do this, you need to increase the number of grid cells during your life. For example, to regularly force the brain to use them by routing them independently
⛺ Be in nature.
When the brain receives a huge amount of new stimuli while hiking. This activates its creative abilities. In one experiment, volunteers were asked to take a creativity test. And those who had hiked for days before that, coped with it better.
It is not necessary to go to the backwoods to spur creativity. A good walk around your home or work will also give your brain plenty of stimulation
When we talk to others, the brain is forced to instantly analyze a huge amount of information. Such regular exertion is essential for maintaining cognitive function. According to scientists, a large number of active social contacts in old age reduces the risk of senile dementia by 25-50%.
It is more effective to communicate in person. But there are benefits to social media, too. Older people who actively use them have a higher density of neurons in the parts of the brain responsible for speech and memory
😴 Give your brain a bedtime task
If you need to solve a difficult problem or come up with something out of the box, study the information you need for it in the evening. And go to sleep sooner than later. In the short interval between wakefulness and sleep, the so-called passive brain network is activated - it will automatically try to find connections that previously eluded you. And, if you're lucky, you'll have a couple of fresh ideas in the morning.
Jandial uses this method regularly. When he has a difficult surgery to perform, before going to sleep he studies the patient's scans: this helps him to remember the features of his brain better and avoid mistakes
Take a deep and slow abdominal breath, counting to four, hold your breath for the same time, exhale slowly, also counting to four. In the process, focus on how the flow of air moves inside your body. Repeat five times.
Experiments have shown that if you do this exercise regularly, you can change the way your brain works. By activating the frontal lobe and anterior cingulate cortex, he begins to better control negative emotions. And this breathing also calms and relaxes the brain by stimulating the vagus nerve
🍓 Switch to the MIND diet.
It was developed to prevent dementia: one study showed that this diet cuts the risk of developing the disease in half.
The principle of the MIND diet is to limit the consumption of deep-processed foods with a lot of added sugar and animal fats. They are suggested to be replaced by cereals, fruits and vegetables, poultry and home-cooked fish, legumes and olive oil