By Brian James Rose
Have you ever wondered why you are more energetic and focused on your work while other days you wake up feeling exhausted and with brain fog? The brain is the organ that also requires proper rest and energy to give its best. In today’s fast-paced world, everyone is trying to compete with one another in becoming more successful. Most people are performing multiple tasks at the same time. This practice not only has negative impacts on health but also on the brain. With time we start losing focus, find it difficult to concentrate or remember things resulting in brain fog or mental fatigue.
As people age, they worry about the decline in brain power and cognitive functioning. It is true that with age, there is a decline in mental function, but in some ways, the brain can change itself. The term neuroplasticity is widely studied, and therapists are using this mechanism to increase brain power. Following are some of the proven ways that can help to enhance brain power:
Meditation is a trending topic due to several beneficial effects, and its positive impacts on physical and mental health are hard to argue with. Researchers have found various positive effects of meditation on the brain. Meditation is known to improve brain functioning by increasing blood flow to the brain, reduced focus on ruminative thoughts, and stimulates the release of endorphins. It all helps in improving brain functions like concentration, learning, focus, and memory. Meditation, when combined with yoga (physical postures and breathing exercises), is thought to be more useful in improving energy levels of the brain and cognitive skills.
Research also suggests that meditation protects the brain from aging. Specific age-related changes in the brain that result in declining brain functions can be prevented or delayed by meditation. A study published in the Journal of Frontiers of Psychology in January 2015 stated that meditation helps preserve the brain’s gray matter. The gray matter usually is seen shrinking with age. Meditation also appears to increase the cortical thickness in the hippocampus. This part of the brain controls learning and memory and regulates emotions. It is seen that common mental health disorders like depression and PTSD are linked to decreased volume and density of the hippocampus.
2. Mental Stimulation
Like all other cells in the body, brain cells also live and die by the principle of “use it or lose it.” The functions we don’t use gradually weaken. So, to keep the brain sharp, we must keep on using the skills we love and spend some time practicing and improving that skill. Research has shown that engaging our brains in brainy activities stimulates the process of neuroplasticity. Any activity that stimulates mental capacity or requires mental effort like word puzzles, math problems, painting, drawing, and many others helps build your brain. These activities are found to stimulate new neural connections and may even help the brain develop new cells that’ll act as a functional reserve against future cell loss.
Exercise is not only vital for physical health, but it is also essential for mental health. Your muscles also help in enhancing your brainpower. Regular exercise will improve the blood flow to the brain. It also spurs the development of new neural connections and synapses in the brain, making the brain more plastic to adapt and enhance itself. Exercise also helps lower blood cholesterol levels, normalize blood glucose levels and blood pressure, and reduce mental stress. High blood pressure is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive function, and high blood glucose causes dementia. Exercising regularly will minimize these risk factors and give more power and energy to the brain.
4. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a pattern that alternates between periods of eating and fasting. This pattern has so many proven health benefits, and people around the world are indulging themselves in intermittent fasting. Fasting is known to stimulate the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This (BDNF) factor is vital in generating new nerve cells in the hippocampus (the part of the brain that plays a role in learning and memory) and making neurons resistant to stress. The other mechanism by which intermittent fasting enhances brainpower is by autophagy. Autophagy inhibits cell growth and removes damaged cells and mitochondria. So, cells, including neurons, are in a state of resource conservation. After fast, when a person eats the neurons switch to growth mode making new synapses, thereby optimizing neuroplasticity. Overall, by intermittent fasting, our brainpower is enhanced by increasing cognitive function, learning capacity, memory, and improved focus and alertness.
5. Using Nootropics
Nootropics, also known as smart drugs, are natural and synthetic compounds that enhance brain function. These are used to enhance memory, focus, sustained attention, and faster mental turnover. Nootropics are becoming a popular way to give an extra boost to the mind. You can find a variety of natural and synthetic nootropics, but it is advisable to start with the natural ones.
6. Eat and Sleep Well
Healthy diets have beneficial effects on our brains. We must include a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, unsaturated oils to prevent age-related decline in brain function. High fat and low-carb diet also help maintain blood glucose levels and provide energy throughout the day. Try to include polyphenols in your diet, which are found in tea, coffee, fruits, and vegetables. These are known to reduce mental stress and improve memory.
Sleep is also essential for a stronger brain. During deep sleep, the brain replenishes its stores of neurotransmitters and clears out the cellular waste. It is the reason that after a good sleep, we wake up revitalized and are more able to focus and concentrate.
It is not a single-day workout to enhance your brainpower. Enhancing brainpower is all about your habits, and habits do take time to build. The best way to enhance brain power is to focus on one or two things at a time rather than trying out all the way simultaneously to improve brainpower. Try to keep balance in everything that you do, whether it is your work, sleep, eating, or anything. By achieving balance in life, you can make your brain more focused and stronger.