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Boosting brain function

Boosting brain function

According Boostijg a Kidney bean African recipeslistening to happy tunes helps generate functlon Boosting brain function solutions compared to being in silence. As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Our brain changes with age, and mental function changes along with it. Look for opportunities to connect with loved ones, friends and others, especially if you live alone.

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5X Your BRAIN CELLS

Boosting brain function -

These activities may also be beneficial for the brain. A study found a link between playing games and a decreased risk of cognitive impairment in older adults. They are a simple and fun way to engage the brain and activate areas related to pattern recognition and recall.

Crossword puzzles are a popular activity that may stimulate the brain. An older study from notes that crossword puzzles may delay the onset of memory decline in people with preclinical dementia.

Completing a jigsaw puzzle can be a good way to pass the time and may also benefit the brain. A study found that puzzles activate many cognitive functions, including:. The study concluded that doing jigsaw puzzles regularly and throughout life may protect against the effects of brain aging.

Number puzzles, such as sudoku, can be a fun way to challenge the brain. They may also improve cognitive function in some people. A study of adults aged between 50 and 93 years found that those who practiced number puzzles more frequently tended to have better cognitive function.

A meta-analysis notes that chess and other cognitive leisure activities may lead to improvements in:. A review notes that some types of video games — such as action, puzzle, and strategy games — may lead to improvements in the following:.

Enjoying company of friends may be a mentally engaging leisure activity and may help preserve cognitive function. A study found that people with more frequent social contact were less likely to experience cognitive decline and dementia.

A study of older adults found that learning a new and cognitively demanding skill, such as quilting or photography, enhanced memory function. A simple way to increase vocabulary is to read a book or watch a TV program and note down any words that are unfamiliar.

A person can then use a dictionary to look up the meaning of the word and think up ways to use the word in a sentence. A review notes that bilingualism increases and strengthens connectivity between different areas of the brain.

A study published in Brain Sciences found that listening to music a person enjoys engages and connects different parts of the brain. The researchers propose that this may lead to improvements in cognitive function and overall well-being.

According to a study , playing an instrument may benefit cognitive development in a young brain and help protect against cognitive impairment in an aging brain. Such hobbies may include:. Regular physical exercise is beneficial for both the brain and the body.

Authors of a review note that exercise improves the following aspects of brain health:. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC , exercise has beneficial effects on the following aspects of cognitive health:. Dance is a form of exercise that may also engage areas of the brain involved in rhythm and balance.

Certain sports are both physically and mentally demanding. Some require a range of cognitive skills, such as:. A review notes that elite athletes who participate in high demand sports tend to have improved attention and faster information processing speeds.

Tai chi is a form of physical exercise that involves gentle body movements, rhythmic breathing, and meditation.

A study compared brain function and connectivity among tai chi practitioners and those who did not practice it. The researchers found that the tai chi practitioners had enhanced connectivity between different regions of their brain.

They proposed that this may improve cognition and decrease the rate of memory loss. While not necessarily an active exercise, sleep is crucial for both the brain and the body.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke , most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, although many people get less sleep than they need.

A review notes that sleep has been proven to:. As such, making sure to get enough sleep each night is an important step toward maintaining a healthy brain. Brain exercises can be as simple as actively engaging the brain in everyday tasks. Others are targeted workouts for the brain, specifically designed to enhance memory, cognition, or creativity.

Exercising the brain may help improve brain function and boost connectivity between the different areas. This may help protect the brain from age-related degeneration. People are likely to differ in terms of the brain exercises they find most enjoyable.

It may be a good idea to try a range of brain-training activities at first and to stick with those that provide the most enjoyment or reward. The diet can have a significant impact on the brain's function.

A brain-healthy diet, rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, can boost memory…. Are you looking for ways to improve your mind and boost brain power in ? Look no further; we have compiled the best brain enhancing methods to try.

Brain atrophy can refer to a loss of brain cells or a loss in the number of connections between these cells. In this article, learn about the symptoms…. Researchers found that applying controlled electric shocks to some areas of the brain may improve long-term and working memory in older adults.

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Medical News Today. Volunteer , join a club, make it a point to see friends more often, or reach out over the phone. And if a human isn't handy, don't overlook the value of a pet —especially the highly-social dog. Stress is one of the brain's worst enemies. Over time, chronic stress destroys brain cells and damages the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in the formation of new memories and the retrieval of old ones.

Studies have also linked stress to memory loss. The scientific evidence for the mental health benefits of meditation continues to pile up. Studies show that meditation helps improve many different types of conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Meditation also can improve focus, concentration, creativity, memory, and learning and reasoning skills. Brain images show that regular meditators have more activity in the left prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with feelings of joy and equanimity.

Meditation also increases the thickness of the cerebral cortex and encourages more connections between brain cells—all of which increases mental sharpness and memory ability. Try one of HelpGuide's free Audio Meditations.

You've heard that laughter is the best medicine , and that holds true for the brain and the memory, as well as the body. Unlike emotional responses, which are limited to specific areas of the brain, laughter engages multiple regions across the whole brain. Furthermore, listening to jokes and working out punch lines activates areas of the brain vital to learning and creativity.

Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take ourselves less seriously is to talk about the times when we took ourselves too seriously.

When you hear laughter, move toward it. Most of the time, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it.

When you hear laughter, seek it out and try to join in. Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily—both at themselves and at life's absurdities—and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.

Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh.

Frame photos of you and your loved ones having fun. Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.

Just as the body needs fuel, so does the brain. Get your omega-3s. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for brain health.

If you're not a fan of seafood, consider non-fish sources of omega-3s such as seaweed, walnuts, ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, winter squash, kidney and pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans. Limit calories and saturated fat. Research shows that diets high in saturated fat from sources such as red meat, whole milk, butter, cheese, cream, and ice cream increase your risk of dementia and impair concentration and memory.

Eat more fruit and vegetables. Produce is packed with antioxidants, substances that protect your brain cells from damage. Drink green tea. Green tea contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that protect against free radicals that can damage brain cells.

Among many other benefits, regular consumption of green tea may enhance memory and mental alertness and slow brain aging. Drink wine or grape juice in moderation. Keeping your alcohol consumption in check is key, since alcohol kills brain cells.

But in moderation around 1 glass a day for women; 2 for men , alcohol may actually improve memory and cognition. Red wine appears to be the best option, as it is rich in resveratrol, a flavonoid that boosts blood flow in the brain and reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Other resveratrol-packed options include grape juice, cranberry juice, fresh grapes and berries, and peanuts. Do you feel that your memory has taken an unexplainable dip? If so, there may be a health or lifestyle problem to blame. It's not just dementia or Alzheimer's disease that causes memory loss.

There are many diseases, mental health disorders, and medications that can interfere with memory:. Heart disease and its risk factors.

Cardiovascular disease and its risk factors, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure, have been linked to mild cognitive impairment. Studies show that people with diabetes experience far greater cognitive decline than those who don't suffer from the disease. Hormone imbalance. Women going through menopause often experience memory problems when their estrogen dips.

In men, low testosterone can cause issues. Thyroid imbalances can also cause forgetfulness, sluggish thinking, or confusion. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can get in the way of memory and clear thinking. Common culprits include cold and allergy medications, sleep aids, and antidepressants.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects. Emotional difficulties can take just as heavy a toll on the brain as physical problems. In fact, mental sluggishness, difficulty concentrating, and forgetfulness are common symptoms of depression.

The memory issues can be particularly bad in older people who are depressed-so much so that it is sometimes mistaken for dementia. The good news is that when the depression is treated , memory should return to normal.

Pay attention. You can't remember something if you never learned it, and you can't learn something—that is, encode it into your brain—if you don't pay enough attention to it.

It takes about eight seconds of intense focus to process a piece of information into your memory. If you're easily distracted, pick a quiet place where you won't be interrupted.

Involve as many senses as possible. Try to relate information to colors, textures, smells, and tastes. The physical act of rewriting information can help imprint it onto your brain. Even if you're a visual learner, read out loud what you want to remember.

If you can recite it rhythmically, even better. Relate information to what you already know. Connect new data to information you already remember, whether it's new material that builds on previous knowledge, or something as simple as an address of someone who lives on a street where you already know someone.

For more complex material, focus on understanding basic ideas rather than memorizing isolated details. Practice explaining the ideas to someone else in your own words. Rehearse information you've already learned. Review what you've learned the same day you learn it, and at intervals thereafter.

Use mnemonic devices to make memorization easier. Nutrition tips to boost energy levels and increase resistance to illness. Tips to help you increase intimacy and enjoyment as you get older. Tips for overcoming insomnia and other age-related sleep problems.

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About Us Meet Our Team Our Story Jeanne Segal, Ph. Harvard Health Partnership Audio Meditations Newsletter. How to boost brain power at any age. Copy Link Link copied! Download PDF. By Melinda Smith, M. and Lawrence Robinson.

How to boost brain power at any age Tip 1: Give your brain a workout Tip 2: Don't skip the physical exercise Tip 3: Get your Zs Tip 4: Make time for friends Tip 5: Keep stress in check Tip 6: Have a laugh Tip 7: Eat a brain-boosting diet Tip 8: Identify and treat health problems Tip 9: Take practical steps to support learning and memory.

How to boost brain power at any age A strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain. Tip 1: Give your brain a workout By the time you've reached adulthood, your brain has developed millions of neural pathways that help you process and recall information quickly, solve familiar problems, and execute habitual tasks with a minimum of mental effort.

Four key elements of a good brain-boosting activity It teaches you something new. No matter how intellectually demanding the activity, if it's something you're already good at, it's not a good brain exercise. The activity needs to be something that's unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone.

To strengthen the brain, you need to keep learning and developing new skills.

Brain exercises may help boost and maintain brain Boksting. Memory games, learning Boostihg skills, crosswords, and even funcion games may help. Although Measuring water volume Boosting brain function gets plenty of exercise every Boosting brain function, certain activities may help boost brain function and connectivity. This in turn may help protect the brain from age-related degeneration. The brain is always active, even during sleep. However, certain activities can engage the brain in new ways, potentially leading to improvements in memory, cognitive function, or creativity. Meditation generally involves focusing attention in a calm, controlled way.

Boosting brain function -

Other studies have shown that exercise increases the size of a brain structure important to memory and learning, resulting in better spatial memory. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, is thought to be more beneficial to cognitive health than nonaerobic stretching and toning exercise.

Federal guidelines recommend that all adults get at least minutes 2. Walking is a good start. You can also join programs that teach you to move safely and prevent falls, which can lead to brain and other injuries. Check with your health care provider if you haven't been active and want to start a vigorous exercise program.

Being intellectually engaged may benefit the brain. People who engage in personally meaningful activities , such as volunteering or hobbies, say they feel happier and healthier. Learning new skills may improve your thinking ability, too. For example, one study found that older adults who learned quilting or digital photography had more memory improvement than those who only socialized or did less cognitively demanding activities.

Some of the research on engagement in activities such as music, theater, dance, and creative writing has shown promise for improving quality of life and well-being in older adults, from better memory and self-esteem to reduced stress and increased social interaction.

However, a recent, comprehensive report reviewing the design and findings of these and other studies did not find strong evidence that these types of activities have a lasting, beneficial effect on cognition.

Additional research is needed, and in large numbers of diverse older adults, to be able to say definitively whether these activities may help reduce decline or maintain healthy cognition.

Lots of activities can keep your mind active. For example, read books and magazines. Play games. Take or teach a class. Learn a new skill or hobby. Work or volunteer. These types of mentally stimulating activities have not been proven to prevent serious cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease , but they can be fun!

Some scientists have argued that such activities may protect the brain by establishing "cognitive reserve. Some types of cognitive training conducted in a research setting also seem to have benefits.

For the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly ACTIVE trial , healthy adults 65 and older participated in 10 sessions of memory training, reasoning training, or processing-speed training. The sessions improved participants' mental skills in the area in which they were trained with evidence suggesting these benefits persisted for two years.

Be wary of claims that playing certain computer and online games can improve your memory and other types of thinking as evidence to back up such claims is evolving.

There is currently not enough evidence available to suggest that computer-based brain training applications offered commercially have the same impact on cognitive abilities as the ACTIVE study training.

NIA and other organizations are supporting research to determine whether different types of cognitive training have lasting effects. For more information, see Participating in Activities You Enjoy. Connecting with other people through social activities and community programs can keep your brain active and help you feel less isolated and more engaged with the world around you.

Participating in social activities may lower the risk for some health problems and improve well-being. People who engage in personally meaningful and productive activities with others tend to live longer, boost their mood, and have a sense of purpose.

Studies show that these activities seem to help maintain their well-being and may improve their cognitive function. So, visit with family and friends. Consider volunteering for a local organization or join a group focused on a hobby you enjoy.

Join a walking group with other older adults. Check out programs available through your Area Agency on Aging , senior center, or other community organizations. Increasingly, there are groups that meet online too, providing a way to connect from home with others who share your interests or to get support.

We don't know for sure yet if any of these actions can prevent or delay Alzheimer's and age-related cognitive decline. Still, some of these have been associated with reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.

Stress is a natural part of life. Short-term stress can even focus our thoughts and motivate us to take action. To help manage stress and build the ability to bounce back from stressful situations, there are many things you can do:.

Genetic , environmental , and lifestyle factors are all thought to influence cognitive health. Some of these factors may contribute to a decline in thinking skills and the ability to perform everyday tasks such as driving, paying bills, taking medicine, and cooking.

Genetic factors are passed down inherited from a parent to child and cannot be controlled. But many environmental and lifestyle factors can be changed or managed to reduce your risk. These factors include:. Many health conditions affect the brain and pose risks to cognitive function.

These conditions include:. It's important to prevent or seek treatment for these health problems. They affect your brain as well as your body and receiving treatment for other conditions may help prevent or delay cognitive decline or thinking problems.

Older adults are at higher risk of falls, car accidents, and other accidents that can cause brain injury. Alcohol and certain medicines can affect a person's ability to drive safely and also increase the risk for accidents and brain injury. Learn about risks for falls and participate in fall prevention programs.

Wear helmets and seat belts to help prevent head injuries as well. Overcoming this fear can help you stay active, maintain your physical health, and prevent future falls.

Some drugs and combinations of medicines can affect a person's thinking and the way the brain works. For example, certain ones can cause confusion, memory loss, hallucinations, and delusions in older adults. Medicines can also interact with food, dietary supplements, alcohol, and other substances.

Some of these interactions can affect how your brain functions. Drugs that can harm older adults' cognition include:. But if your blood sugar stays high, you'll need medication to achieve good control.

High levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol are associated with an increased the risk of dementia. Diet, exercise, weight control, and avoiding tobacco will go a long way toward improving your cholesterol levels.

But if you need more help, ask your doctor about medication. Some observational studies suggest that low-dose aspirin may reduce the risk of dementia, especially vascular dementia. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate.

Excessive drinking is a major risk factor for dementia. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to two drinks a day. People who are anxious, depressed, sleep-deprived, or exhausted tend to score poorly on cognitive function tests. Poor scores don't necessarily predict an increased risk of cognitive decline in old age, but good mental health and restful sleep are certainly important goals.

Moderate to severe head injuries, even without diagnosed concussions, increase the risk of cognitive impairment. Strong social ties have been associated with a lower risk of dementia, as well as lower blood pressure and longer life expectancy.

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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How well do you score on brain health? Shining light on night blindness. Can watching sports be bad for your health? Beyond the usual suspects for healthy resolutions. May 13, Every brain changes with age, and mental function changes along with it.

Get mental stimulation Through research with mice and humans, scientists have found that brainy activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells, developing neurological "plasticity" and building up a functional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss.

Get physical exercise Research shows that using your muscles also helps your mind. Improve your diet Good nutrition can help your mind as well as your body.

Improve your blood pressure High blood pressure in midlife increases the risk of cognitive decline in old age.

Improve your blood sugar Diabetes is an important risk factor for dementia.

Federal government websites runction end in. functionn or. Home improvement tools site is secure. Cognitive health — Kidney bean African recipes ability brxin clearly think, learn, Boosting brain function functuon — is an important component of performing everyday activities. Cognitive health is just one aspect of overall brain health. A growing body of scientific research suggests that the following steps are linked to cognitive health. Small changes may really add up: Making these part of your routine could help you function better. New research shows little risk of infection from prostate Boosting brain function. Discrimination at work is linked to high blood pressure. Icy fingers Boostinb Kidney bean African recipes Poor circulation funcction Raynaud's gunction Boosting brain function Boostlng there is no magic pill to prevent cognitive decline, no single almighty brain food can ensure a sharp brain as you age. Nutritionists emphasize that the most important strategy is to follow a healthy dietary pattern that includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Try to get protein from plant sources and fish and choose healthy fats, such as olive oil or canola, rather than saturated fats. Boosting brain function

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