To celebrate Brain Awareness Week, let’s talk about three ways to boost brain health! As a culture, we’re finally starting to understand that good wellness rituals aren’t just about treating health issues — they’re about preventing them.
Many of us are prioritizing wellness in an effort to keep our bodies healthy. We try to eat a balanced diet and buy organic whenever we can. To fill in gaps in our diet, we choose high quality supplements. We try to keep our stress in check. We practice self-care. We love our bodies, and we make an effort to show it.
But what about our minds? Weighing in at a mere three pounds, the brain is by far the most complex of our organs. It’s the center of our intellect and controls all of our movements and behaviors. The body is nothing without the brain, yet we don’t always give this vital organ the attention it deserves.
Just as you work to keep your body well, you can take steps to make sure your brain is in top form. Here are three ways to boost brain health.
1. Work Up a Sweat
Not only does exercise improve physical fitness, it also helps keep your brain healthy. Aerobic exercise may increase the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with learning and memory, according to a 2018 study conducted at the University of British Columbia.
And you don’t have to clock hours at the gym every day to reap the brain-growing effects of aerobic exercise. Study participants did nothing more than walk briskly for one hour, twice a week. As long as you break a sweat for 120 minutes weekly, you’re likely to get results.
Exercise is also helpful for relieving stress, which can take its toll on cognition — it’s hard to think straight when you’re consumed with worry. And exercise can improve your mood, thanks to its ability to modulate feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
2. Feed Your Head
Just like the rest of your body, your brain needs the right nutrients to be healthy and strong. Try adding these brain-boosting foods to your regular dietary rotation.
This berry is rich in antioxidant flavonoid compounds called anthocyanins that may help protect the brain from age-related decline. Blueberries also contain gallic acid, which may be able to prevent damage to the brain caused by degeneration and stress.
Ever notice how walnuts look like tiny brains? They really are brain food! Walnuts are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that has been shown to benefit brain health. Eating just a few walnuts a day may improve concentration and memory while also increasing how quickly you process information.
Wildcrafter founder and nutrition expert Tieraona Low Dog, MD, considers eggs to be as close to perfect as any one food can be. Among many other nutrients, eggs are rich in choline, which has been linked to memory and cognition. But many people aren’t getting enough of this important brain-booster. Could you be one of them? Consider adding more eggs to your diet.
Craving a little something sweet? Reach for a square of dark chocolate. This tasty treat is chock full of bioactive substances like flavonoids that may improve memory and cognition. But don’t take our word for it — a 2012 report published in the New England Journal of Medicine noted a “surprisingly powerful” correlation between the number of Nobel laureates in various countries and the per capita amount of chocolate consumed.
And because what you drink can also boost brain health, consider swapping your regular cup of joe for Wildcrafter’s Creative Focus blend. It combines organic, fair trade Arabica coffee with these botanicals known to support healthy brain function:
- Bacopa, which has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to rejuvenate the mind
- Ashwagandha, which fosters mental calm and supports the immune system by helping the body respond to stress*
Adjusting your diet — and your coffee routine — to incorporate these brain boosters can help keep you sharp and focused.
3. Find Your Zen
Mindfulness meditation has steadily grown in popularity as people embrace this practice as a way to find inner peace. Skeptical about the power of meditation to affect the brain? Consider the evidence.
Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, conducted studies involving brain scans of meditators. She found that people who had been meditating for a long time had increased grey matter in the auditory and sensory cortex, which she attributes to the mindful attention paid to breathing, sounds, and other stimuli during meditation. She also discovered more grey matter in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with memory and decision making.
According to Lazar, meditators in their fifties had the same amount of gray matter in one part of the prefrontal cortex as people in their twenties in spite of the fact that the cortex is known to shrink as we age. Like exercise, meditation actually changes the brain. And while these studies focused on the long term benefits of meditation, subsequent research showed meditation can positively boost brain health after only eight weeks.
If you’ve been wanting to try meditation but aren’t sure where to start, look no further than your smartphone. There are a number of mindfulness apps that can guide you on your zen-finding, brain-boosting journey. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Headspace features an introductory series called Take10 that can teach you to meditate in 10 sessions of 10 minutes each.
- Stop, Breathe & Think is useful for beginners because it features a section, Learn to Meditate, that tells you what to expect when you start meditating.
- Calm instructs users with sessions ranging from 3 to 25 minutes that emphasize relief from anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
Wellness for Body and Mind
When it comes to your health, caring for your body is only half the battle. We hope you’ll be able to incorporate these brain-strengthening tips into your daily life. If you’re already making lifestyle choices to benefit your wellbeing, adding the items on this list should be a no-brainer!
Try adding Wildcrafter’s botanically-infused blends to your daily ritual! Join our list below and get special savings on your first order!