Keep Your Brain Young

One of the greatest longevity secrets you’ll ever learn is how to take care of your brain throughout your entire lifetime. What better time to learn how to prevent degeneration and support a sharp, well-balanced mind than Brain Awareness Week! Here are 4 leading-edge tips to power up your brain.

1. Omega-3’s for a Brain Boost

You may have heard that it’s great for your health to take fish oil every day, but did you ever wonder why? Fish oil, along with flax seeds and many nuts and seeds, contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. We’ve known for some time that omega-3’s support cardiovascular health, but the link between cardiovascular health and cognitive health is relatively recent. New scientific research indicates that people with higher omega-3 levels are more likely to perform well on cognitive tests of visual memory, attention, and abstract thinking, and to experience less age-related brain shrinking. Omega-3’s are also very helpful for reducing blood pressure, which can worsen your memory by inhibiting brain cell nourishment. Don’t know your omegas from your elbow? Find out more about omega-3 fatty acids in the Natural Health Dictionary!

Get omegas on the go! Try this simple anti-aging trail mix to bring the power of omega-3’s with you wherever you go. Combine walnuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried goji berries, dried apricots, and dried blueberries together and keep in a small sealed container. Eat a handful of trailmix by itself or add to plain, unsweetened yogurt with some ground flaxseed. Snack on this delicious treat between meals and give your brain a healthy boost!

2. Supplement Your Brain Health

Omega-3’s are just the tip of the brain-boosting iceberg! Here are a few other supplements that will enhance your brain’s longevity and mental prowess:

• Ginkgo Biloba Chinese doctors once likened the gingko leaf shape to the shape of the brain, and conjectured that this meant the herb would benefit brain health. As it turns out, this traditional supplement can strengthen learning, thinking, retention, and recall. It gets its reputation by virtue of its ability to increase blood circulation, in addition to nutrient and oxygen flow, to the brain and other organs. You can brew ginkgo in a tea or take it in supplement form. Find out more about gingko biloba in The Natural Health Dictionary.

• Microalgae like blue green algae, chlorella, and spirulina are high-energy, high-protein supplements that support healthy brain function. They are easy to digest and contain an added health boost with over one hundred trace minerals.

• L-glutamine is a helpful amino acid that is especially popular among athletes. Not only does it help minimize the breakdown of muscle tissue, it converts to glutamic acid, a potent brain fuel. You may take L-glutamine as supplement, or find it naturally by consuming beef, poultry, yogurt, cabbage, or raw spinach. Want to know more about this amino acid? Look up L-glutamine in The Natural Health Dictionary.

3. Fit Body, Fit Brain

More good news about exercise: new studies suggest that exercising can help fuel your brain! When we’re working out our bodies, it’s easy to forget that our brain is even involved in the motion, but physical movements demand a lot from the brain. During exercise, we’re rapidly activating and stimulating neurons in our brains, which send and interpret the messages that enable our bodies to move.

Of course, with this increased brain activity during exercise comes an increased need to refuel with nutrients. Until recently, researchers didn’t understand how neurons fueled themselves during exercise, but new studies with animals from Japan have revealed that when starved of blood sugar, neurons are actually able to maintain their energy levels by absorbing glycogen, a stored carbohydrate, from helpful neighbor cells. In these studies, after rats worked out on treadmills, they immediately ate, and the food seemed to go right to their brains—sometimes increasing brain glycogen levels by 60% in the areas of the brain associated with learning and memory. After 24 hours, the glycogen levels had returned to normal—unless exercise was repeated every day. In the rats that ran for four weeks, these special stores of glycogen built up in the parts of the brain that support memory and learning, effectively becoming the brain’s new baseline.

What does this mean? These early studies suggest that you may be able to develop a better, sharper brain by storing and utilizing brain glycogen—which appears to happen through regular exercise that is immediately followed by consumption of carbohydrates. What this looks like: exercise regularly, and after your workout, feed your brain with a healthy carb, like a banana. Then reap the brain benefits!

4. Use It or Lose It

Exercise isn’t just for you body—you have to exercise your brain, too, if you want to keep it in tip-top shape! Set aside a time every day to challenge your brain with new memory and problem-solving tasks, including chess or crossword puzzles, learning the words to a new song, or writing with your non-dominant hand. When you do these activities every day, you are developing and engaging new neural pathways to keep your brain on the cutting edge.

I hope that these tips will help keep your brain young!

Many of the terms that were defined in this article come from The Natural Health Dictionary, a comprehensive guide that answers all your questions about natural remedies, healing herbs, longevity foods, vitamins, and supplements. Also, you can find more ways to live a long and healthy life in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle.

Follow me on Twitter to get insider tips and to ask your health questions.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy all year long!

—Dr. Mao

*Always consult your Physician before you start any regimen to help aid in a healthy and youthful life. Thanks Naturally Fullicious

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