It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was dancing to the Pixies and shouting out the words “where is my mind”, yet somehow, somewhere, in the last few decades I seem to have lost not quite my mind, but my memory. Is this just part of the natural process of having children, ageing, working too hard and a bit too much stress?
Our brains have an amazing ability to continually form new neural pathways. This is known as “neuroplasticity” and for it to take place our brains need to be ‘healthy’. In other words, we need to look after them…..rest them, feed them and exercise them. Just as we try to look after our bodies, so we should look after our brains.
Meditation and breathing techniques are well-known for improving memory and the yogic meditation Kirtan Kriya is now recommended by the Alzheimers Research and Prevention Foundation . But there are also other ways to “rest” your brain and improve your sleep – simply find something that you enjoy doing that takes you away from the daily grind of your life: walking in nature, playing outdoors with your kids, doing a puzzle, painting – something in which you can switch your mind off and lose yourself.
Feeding our brains is essential to keeping them healthy. Rather than focusing on what you should cut out of your diet, focus on what you need to include. With every meal try to eat some “brainfood” – add seeds, nuts, oily fish, avocados, olive oil or coconut oil to your meal to ensure you get a good dose of essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Your vitamin B- group is also essential for the nervous system and is easily destroyed by stress and alcohol. A B-complex supplement is often a good idea when you are under a great deal of stress or if you are vegan as some of the B-vitamins are only found in animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. There are also many herbs and aromatherapy oils that can help improve your memory, your sleep and your ability to cope with stress.
If you are like me and you shudder at the word “exercise”, then I apologise for the following statement: regular exercise is vital not only for the health of your body, but also for the health of your brain. Cardiovascular exercise ensures there is adequate blood-flow to the brain, improves your sleep and helps you de-stress. Regular mental exercises, on the other hand, ensure neuro-plasticity. As the saying goes, “use it or lose it”. Start doing a crossword or brainteaser everyday or learn something new and challenging such as a musical instrument or perhaps even a new language!
Just to end, I found the image for this blog from Tech & Facts which has some great facts about your brain (such as it is 60% fat….so eat your fats! ). Take a look at it.