How To Improve Brain Function And Lessen Brain Aging
Have you experienced leaving your car keys inside your car? Or you can’t remember the name of the person you met minutes ago? Have you missed an important meeting or appointment because you forgot about it?
These situations can be attributed to memory lapses, and this can happen to anyone, even those who are still in their twenties. Although as we grow older, we become more fearful of memory lapses, because we feel that it will only get worse as we age. In reality, cognitive health becomes more important as we age, it’s vital to take action now rather than to wait until our brain functions deteriorate when we reach our forties.
Memory loss and brain aging happen when neurons stop functioning. It is known that when we were still infants there are fixed amounts of neurons in our brains, but as we grow older these neurons are gradually lost. Neuroscientists explain that a neurotransmitter or the so called dopamine can help in the growth of new neurons. As a matter of fact, dopamine can move directly to our brains, resulting in better brain function, which is the basis for mature wisdom.
What Causes Memory Loss?
Throughout our lives, our brains can form new neurons, but this doesn’t mean that our brains change as we age. In fact, brain volume and weight decreases through time. When we reached our twenties, our brain loses about ten percent of its normal weight – which mean our brain shrinks! But age isn’t the only factor that can contribute to brain shrinkage.
Other factors like lifestyle can also play a big role in memory loss. According to researchers, some diseases like diabetes and bad habits like smoking can accelerate the deterioration of our brains. Other bad habits can also contribute to memory loss, such as lack of exercise and poor diet, because it can lead to cardiovascular diseases that reduce blood flow to the brain.
Keep in mind that an unhealthy lifestyle may increase your chances of developing dreaded brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Activities And Diet For Our Brain
How can we take care of our brain? Is it still possible to stay sharp as we age? Here are some tips for improving brain function:
- Varying Your Activities – Most of us know the importance of physical activities and we are already physically active, which is very important for brain health. But you can still challenge your body by mixing up your exercise routines, you can do something different that you haven’t done before. It can be hiking, swimming or any other activity that is new to you. Engaging in various activities can help your body stay fit, but it can also improve brain function.
- Brain Quizzes And Exercises – Puzzles and brain games can help boost the association between different parts of our brain. There are many types of games that target certain parts of our brain. Usually, you can find these games on the web or on mobile applications. Brain games can help keep our brains sharp.
- Healthy Brain Food – Having good, clean diet improves all areas of our health, but it is also an essential requirement in brain health. Studies show that certain foods can slow mental decline. The most popular brain-boosting food is any type of food rich in Omega 3, which can improve memory and focus.
- Learn New Skills – Try new things like taking up language, learn to play an instrument, or indulge in poetry. Encouraging your brain to do something new keeps it active and it’s also beneficial, since you learn new skills.
- Volunteer For Charity Work – How can charity work improve our brain? Well, research shows that volunteering can add to a person’s overall health and well-being. It also lowers stress level and you feel good when you do some charity work. Not to mention that it can raise your self-esteem and promotes brain health.
- Socialize – We need to socialize with other people and improve our social behavior. A recent study from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior proves that social activity can help stimulate our brain and keep our minds sharp. Aging often take its toll on major neurological processes, and most of the time older adults who are not socially active are more prone to both physical and cognitive limitations.
- Reading – For most people, reading can be a mundane task, but if you’re a wide reader, then you might have noticed that you can easily remember things. Reading can stimulate our brains and help us increase our comprehension.
Keeping our brains fit is no small task, but it’s an important thing to do in life. How can we enjoy our lives when our brain loses its normal function? It’s important to take care of our brains, so when you exercise your body – try some brain teasers on the side, it will definitely benefit you in the long run. There are also other methods of improving brain functions, one in particular is meditation.
Improving Brain Functions Through Meditation
Meditation is now a proven method in improving brain function, and research about it has been rolling steadily for several decades now. There are a number of neurological benefits attributed to meditation. Meditation is considered an ancient technique, because it has been used for centuries in many parts of the world. The practice has several neurological benefits such as increasing grey matter volume to reduce stress in our body and enhances connectivity between various regions of our brain.
In the last few years, it has been proven that meditation can produce measurable changes in our body and mind. Although skeptics often ask about the validity of this claim, and what good a few brain changes can do if the overall psychological effects are not being illustrated. Fortunately, there is evidence to support this claim, such as studies that prove meditation can help relieve depression and anxiety, improve concentration, attention, and psychological well-being.
Meditation Helps Prevent Brain Aging
Based on a new study from UCLA, researchers found out that meditation can indeed help in preserving brain functions. During the tests, participants who had been meditating for an average of 5 years have more grey matter in their brain. This particular component in our brain is known to reduce anxiety and depression, which can eventually prevent brain aging.
It’s also known that mindfulness meditation can reduce activity in the brain’s “Me Center,” which is responsible for self-referential and mind-wandering thoughts. Usually, the default mode network (DMN) is active when our brain is idle, or were not thinking about anything. This happens when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought.
Mind-wandering is considered as a sign of ruminating, being less happy, and worrying about the past and future, so the main goal is to tone it down. Through meditation, we can lessen the effects of mind-wandering by stimulating the DMN. So, even when the mind starts to wonder, we can easily snap back out of it because of the connection we’ve formed through meditation.
Boston Biomedical Research Institute (BBRI) is an independent, non-profit institution dedicated to basic biomedical research to promote the understanding, treatment and prevention of human diseases, including heart disease, cancer, muscular dystrophy and Alzheimer’s.
Areas of research include biochemical and cellular mechanisms, muscle contractility and cell motility, the genetic control of cell growth and differentiation, and tissue damage and regeneration.