In our fast-paced world, maintaining optimal brain health is more important than ever. Whether you’re a student looking to excel academically, a professional striving to stay productive, or a senior seeking to preserve cognitive function, the health of your brain is a critical component of your overall well-being.
The brain is the most complex and vital organ in your body, responsible for everything from thinking and feeling to coordinating physical actions. Just like any other part of your body, it requires care and attention to stay in tip top condition. Check out these practical brain health tips that can help you maintain and enhance cognitive function, regardless of your age or lifestyle.
1. Stay Physically Active
Regular exercise is undoubtedly one of the most beneficial ways to support your physical health but aids in brain health as well. The impact of exercise on your brain is multifaceted.
- Exercise acts as a powerful driver of increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain.
- Aerobic activity serves as a catalyst for neurogenesis, the process of generating new neurons. As you engage in regular physical activity, particularly cardiovascular exercises like brisk walking, swimming, or jogging, your brain responds by increasing the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). These fresh neural connections enhance your brain’s ability to adapt and learn.1
- Physical activity also enhances the connectivity between existing neurons. Synaptic plasticity, or the strength of connections between neurons, is vital for memory formation and learning. During rigorous physical activity neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin are released. These chemicals not only improve mood but also facilitate cognitive functions like focus, attention, and problem-solving.2
2. Nourish Your Brain with a Balanced Diet
What you eat can significantly impact your brain health. A diet rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and a variety of nutrients like bacopa and phosphatidylserine can support cognitive function and protect against cognitive decline. Foods like fatty fish, nuts, berries, and leafy greens are brain-boosting superstars.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain health because they assist with cognition and have been shown to improve learning, memory, cognitive well-being and blood flow in the brain.
- Bacopa monnieri, also known as Brahmi, has been a staple in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It has been used to support memory, concentration, and overall cognitive function. Some studies suggest that Bacopa may improve memory and learning. 3 One randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (Stough et al., 2001) found that Bacopa supplementation resulted in significant cognitive improvements, particularly in the areas of memory retention and learning ability.4
- Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a naturally occurring phospholipid that is a critical component of cell membranes, particularly in the brain. It plays a vital role in various cognitive processes, including memory, attention, and focus. Foods rich in PS include white beans, soy, egg yolks and chicken livers. Unfortunately, it is hard for the body to absorb enough PS, so adding a dietary supplement is a good option.5
Looking to further support your brain health with supplementation? ItelliQ™ provides nutrients and ingredients to support normal cognitive health, memory, mood and feelings of well-being.* This herbal supplement contains Bacopa Extract for memory enrichment. The Phospholipid Complex, Phosphatidylserine, provides nutritional support for occasional stress, mood relief, and cognitive performance.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
3. Get Quality Sleep
Sleep is essential for memory consolidation and mental clarity. In fact, sleep is a fundamental aspect of human existence. Research has established that sleep plays a pivotal role in enhancing memory retention, maintaining metabolic balance, and alleviating mental exhaustion. It appears that a minimum of 7 hours of nightly sleep is imperative for optimal cognitive and behavioral performance (Eugene et al., 2015). The National Sleep foundation recommends getting at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. The best way to accomplish “sleep goals” is to establish a regular sleep schedule and create a comfortable, calming bedtime routine to ensure your brain gets the rest it needs.6
- Turn off technology such as cell phone, laptop and TV.
- Do not consume high calorie meals or high levels of caffeine.
- Ensure your sleep environment is quiet, cool and calm.
4. Stay Socially Connected
Strong social connections are linked to better cognitive function and a reduced risk of cognitive decline. Engage in meaningful conversations, maintain relationships, and participate in social activities to keep your brain active and healthy.
- Cultivating a robust social network can contribute to a longer life. Studies consistently demonstrate that individuals with stronger social support systems tend to live more extended lives, a phenomenon that remains true even when adjusting for overall health status.
- Social engagement has a profound impact on mental well-being. Research suggests that building social connections is a reliable strategy for lifting one’s mood and maintaining a positive state of mind.
- Those who actively connect with others often exhibit better performance on memory tests and other cognitive assessments. Over time, individuals with thriving social lives demonstrate a decreased risk of developing dementia in comparison to those who experience greater social isolation.
5. Manage Stress
Chronic (persistent) stress can be detrimental to your brain. A stressed brain is less efficient and more vulnerable to cognitive decline. Stress can lead to the release of hormones like cortisol. Cortisol is a key component in our fight or flight response, but also plays a role in our brain health from mood and memory to learning and decision making. Chronic stress and high cortisol levels have been linked to cognitive decline and dementia. It’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or even seeking professional help when needed.
Your brain is a valuable asset, and it’s worth investing time and effort to keep it healthy. By incorporating these brain health tips into your daily routine, you can help protect your cognitive function, enhance your mental clarity, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline as you age. Remember that small, consistent changes can lead to significant improvements in your brain health over time. So, take the first step toward a healthier, sharper mind today!
To find more strategies to help improve your health and wellbeing, check out our 5 Pillars of Wellness!
1. Parker, A. G. (2011). The effects of phosphatidylserine on endocrine response to moderate intensity exercise. Advances in Therapy, 28(12), 1263-1270.
2. Monteleone, P., Maj, M., Beinat, L., Natale, M., & Kemali, D. (1990). Blunting by chronic phosphatidylserine administration of the stress-induced activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy men. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 39(4), 385-387.
3. Stough, C., Lloyd, J., Clarke, J., Downey, L. A., Hutchison, C. W., & Rodgers, T. (2001). The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 7(5), 547-553.
4. Aguiar, S., & Borowski, T. (2013). Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation Research, 16(4), 313-326.
5. Dighriri IM, Alsubaie AM, Hakami FM, Hamithi DM, Alshekh MM, Khobrani FA, Dalak FE, Hakami AA, Alsueaadi EH, Alsaawi LS, Alshammari SF, Alqahtani AS, Alawi IA, Aljuaid AA, Tawhari MQ. Effects of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Brain Functions: A Systematic Review. Cureus. 2022 Oct 9;14(10):e30091. doi: 10.7759/cureus.30091. PMID: 36381743; PMCID: PMC9641984.
6. Eugene AR, Masiak J. The Neuroprotective Aspects of Sleep. MEDtube Sci. 2015 Mar;3(1):35-40. PMID: 26594659; PMCID: PMC4651462.
Lauren Horton, PhD.
Dr. Lauren Horton is passionate about moving patient care forward through research. As a Division Research Director, she is at the forefront of groundbreaking studies and innovation. Her dedication to advancing knowledge and solving complex problems has led to her pivotal role in shaping the future of patient care in the healthcare industry.
Dr. Horton leverages her deep insights and knack for communicating complex ideas in an accessible way to educate and engage a global audience. In her spare time, she is an avid advocate for health and wellness, dedicated to making a positive impact on the world. She believes that knowledge is a powerful tool for change and strives to empower others with the information and inspiration needed to effect meaningful transformation.
Dr. Horton loves to help improve the quality of life of those around her. She has helped men and women from all over the country discover how small steps each day can lead to huge strides towards living a healthier lifestyle.
Dr. Horton holds a BS in biology from Rust College, a MS in health economics and outcomes research from Xavier University and a PhD in biomedical science from Morehouse School of Medicine and completed her post-doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania.