We all want to be able to think faster, have greater memory and cognitive skills, have greater attention spans and improved concentration, make better decisions in our lives and have enhanced learning abilities. In general, we want to have more neurons and therefore more brain power! In this article, we explore 5 powerful ways to increase brain function..
- One of the first things that lead to improved brain function is aerobic exercise. Exercise improves neuronal connectivity and therefore increases learning and memory skills. Scientific research has proved that one of the direct effects of physical activity is that it reduces cellular inflammation and insulin resistance. This in turn stimulates growth factors to be released that promote the growth of new nerve cells and blood vessels in the brain. The new cells and new blood vessels equal to greater inter neuronal connections and increased cognitive functions. Additionally, the growth factors also ensures the repair and survival of existing brain cells. Thus, cognitive function is affected directly from physical activity. In a research study conducted at University of British Columbia, it turns out that regular heart-pumping aerobic exercise boost the size of the hippocampus region of the brain – this is the area responsible for verbal learning and memory. Other studies have also found an association with exercise and increased volume of the prefrontal and temporal medial cortex – these are the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory. Another research has shown engaging in a regular exercise program of moderate intensity for even only six months resulted in an increase in the volume of selected brain regions.
- Another most important thing we must do to improve our brain function is to avoid excessive sugar, especially a high fructose sugar diet. The brain is affected by excessive sugar in several ways. The hippocampal region of the brain is the main memory center. Excess sugar can disrupt memory function by disrupting the hippocampus of the brain. The effects of refined carbohydrates on cognitive abilities are also evident in children and not just in adults. A study on laboratory rats in the University of California showed that fructose fed rats had memory impairments. They took a significantly longer time to complete a memory task than control rats.
- We often don’t think about this much but a good night’s rest is essential to improved brain function. Insomnia and therefore prolonged stress can cause or contribute to cognitive impairment. Our brain continues to repair and grow new cells when we are resting and therefore it is extremely important to replenish the cells of our brain with regular full night’s sleep. We know from brain research that the neuronal cells are actively working while we are asleep. The neurons in the brain form a network of connections or patterns when we form new memory or try to learn some new skills. When we sleep, the newly formed memory will solidify in a process known as consolidation. Thus, sleep helps in improved memory, cognition, decision making, learning abilities, motor skills and much more!
- Another proven method to sharpen our brain is through actually working it out with new challenges. Our brain is very plastic and the neuronal connections and networks are constantly changing and reforming their patterns in response to its experience of the world around. When we learn new things and we expose ourselves to new challenging experiences, we are in fact teasing our brain to grow and expand by forming new connections. We should always try to do brain teasing exercises such as riddles, solving puzzles or learning a new skillset to stay sharp and on top of our game!
- Last but not the least, there are specific diet that help us to improve our brain function – one example is the mediterranean diet filled with omega 3 fatty acids, rich sources of fat found in olive oil and walnuts, lots of green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits packed with powerful anti-oxidants – all of these contribute to improved functioning of the brain!