3 Brain Health Tips to Sharpen Your Control Center

Brain health is vital to lead your best life possible. No brain - no life! It’s important that you regularly exercise your brain to keep the neural pathways open and your memory sharp. The neural pathways are the parts of your brain which helps you recall information, solve problems and perform tasks that you’ve experienced in the past.

When you look after your brain health and exercise your brain, you’re stimulating the pathways so they’ll stay vital and active. To accomplish the exercises your brain needs, you need to change your routine once in a while and learn and develop new skills.

Brain Health: Keep your brain stimulated

Mnemonic devices are some of the best ways to keep your stimulate brain health. Here are five of the best mnemonic exercises for your brain:

1.    Acrostics – Acrostics involve making up a sentence where the first or last letter of each word represents the items you want to remember. One popular acrostic is, “E, G, B, D, F” – for “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” to remember the lines of the treble clef in music.

2.    Visual – Like taking a picture with your mind. Make them colorful and three-dimensional to make the recall easier. For example, to remember who was president when the first Atomic bomb was detonated, you could picture Harry Truman in front of a huge mushroom cloud.

3.    Chunking – This method is great for breaking up a long string of numbers into chunks that are more easily remembered. For example, telephone numbers are better remembered than a driver’s license number because they’re broken down into three chunks.

4.    Acronyms – These are words formed by taking the first letters of the items you want to remember and creating a new word from them. For example, to remember a grocery list containing “Laundry detergent, Olives, Diapers and Eggs,” you’d form the word “L-O-D-E.”

5.    Rhymes – Use rhymes you remember from school days or make them up yourself. You may have remembered the rhyme, “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen-hundred, ninety-two,” to remember when the explorer began his fateful trip to the New World.

All of the above methods are great ways to keep your brain in shape and to ward off such memory problems as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Keep in mind that the more you work out your brain, the better you’ll be able to process and recall information.

Challenge yourself in different ways. Learn a new skill, language or sport. And, any exercise which requires you to use your hands can also exercise your brain. Take up a musical instrument or some type of needlework to work out the hand-eye coordination area of your brain.

Most of all -- be mindful rather than mindless. Get off the couch and try something new.

Brain Health: The best vitamins and nutrients

Feed your brain the same as you would your body for the ultimate in keeping brain-fit. If you have a deficiency, it can affect your brain in several ways including focus and clarity, mood swings, mental decline, depression and anxiety, dementia and memory recall.

There are many “supplements” on the market which are promoted to be especially for the brain, but you should know which really work. Below are the three essential vitamins and nutrients which are absolutely essential for a healthy brain:

1.    Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is found in omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is the main building block of the brain and without it, brain problems such as those connected with the nervous system and psychiatric disorders may occur.

DHA deficiency may also affect mood swings, depression and anxiety, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. Many of the symptoms of these conditions may be helped with omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Studies have shown that elderly people with high levels of DHA are 50% less likely to suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s as those with lower levels.

2.    Vitamin B12 – If you find yourself having difficult recalling information and feel that you’re in a fog most of the time, you may be deficient in a B-complex vitamin.

Studies show that there’s a connection between Vitamin B12 deficiency and the two most feared conditions of the elderly – dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Since people may have a difficult time absorbing Vitamin B12 as they age, a vitamin supplement may be in order. Be sure and check your B-level vitamins during your yearly checkup.

3.    Vitamin D – This vitamin is close to DHA in importance to the brain’s health and memory recall. Vitamin D can get rid of depression and anxiety, help you focus and be better able to solve problems.

Besides having a profound effect on your memory, Vitamin D can also protect against such diseases as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Your bone density can also be affected by a deficiency of this vitamin and may prevent osteoporosis, which is a leading cause of hip fractures.

Other vitamins which are also important to brain health include antioxidants which can help rid your body of free radicals which can harm the neural pathways in the brain.

“Smart drugs” have become popular brain boosters and are only available by subscription, but you should speak to your physician before deciding to go this route.

You can enhance your brain power and memory recall by ensuring that your body is getting the proper vitamins and nutrients. If not, supplements can make a difference.

Brain Health: Flex your mental muscles

You know you can flex your muscles to make a difference in your body’s fitness, but did you know that you can exercise your mental muscles and gain a better memory and more brain power?

When you flex your mental muscles the brain creates neuro pathways to the brain. Some exercises and activities can effectively work the brain in five main cognitive area functions. If you can perform these exercises on a daily basis you can train your mind to become fit and active and your memory recall will increase.

The brain contains the following areas of cognitive recognition:

1.    Language – This part of our brains is devoted to remembering, understanding and being able to identify words. You can challenge this area of your brain by practicing new languages, increasing your grammatical skills and increasing your vocabulary.

2.    Attention Span – It’s difficult to focus on something if you’re a multi-tasker. Noises and other distractions can also inhibit your ability to focus your attention. You can help your attention span part of your brain by changing the way you do things. Changing your route to work or any type of routine can awaken your brain and help it pay attention when needed.

3.    Memories – As we age, the memory area of your brain can deteriorate. Sometimes, that’s because of dementia or Alzheimer’s, but most often we simply need to increase our cognitive activities. That includes mental calculations, reasoning powers and reading to remember. Games you play such as crossword puzzles can boost a chemical in your brain called “acetylcholine” which boosts your brain memory skills.

4.    Executive Function – The part of your brain known as the executive function performs the tasks of helping your logic and reasoning powers. Executive functioning helps you develop strategies to reach goals and other major decisions in your life. Video games are great stimulation for this area of your brain and social interaction can also help.

5.    Visual-Spatial Skills – Since we live in a three-dimensional world, filled with color and visuals, we must be able to analyze them in order to function without our various environments. Visual-spatial skills are developed by observing what you see in front of your eyes and within your peripheral vision. To develop these skills, look at a picture, turn it over and then write down every object you saw in the picture. It’s a good exercise to help you focus on what’s around you.

Just as you would exercise all your body muscle to gain overall fitness – so you need to stimulate these five areas of the brain to remain mentally sharp and active as you age.

Brain health is vital for sustaining life, especially a happy life! Take care of your control center so it'll take care of you.

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