Wednesday, March 2, 2011

10 Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp

Based on a new series of studies, scientists have come out with ten ways to sharpen your mind. Read on and try out these 10 commandments.

1. Do something

Scientists are starting to think that regular aerobic exercise may be the single most important thing you can do for the long-term health of your brain. For mental fitness, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every other day, reports Live Science.

2. Eat, eat, eat

A low glycaemic diet -- high fibre, with moderate amounts of fat and protein -- is broken down more slowly in the body than high glycaemic foods, such as sweets and white starches. A steady pace of digestion in the gut gives a more reliable flow of energy to the brain, likely optimising the organ's long-term health and performance.

3. Watch that diet

While overindulging can make the brain sluggish and lead to long-term detriments to your brain, too few calories can also impair brain function. Many studies have linked dieting with distraction, confusion and memory impairment.

4. Take care of your body

Largely preventable diseases -- such as Type II diabetes, obesity and hypertension -- all affect your brain, too. System-wide health concerns have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and memory impairments.

5. Get your beauty rest

When we rest and dream, memories are sifted through, some discarded, others consolidated and saved. When we don't sleep, a recent study found, proteins build up on synapses, possibly making it hard to think and learn new things.

6. Enjoy your coffee

Growing evidence suggests a caffeine habit may protect the brain. According to large longitudinal studies, two to four perk-me-ups a day may stave off normal cognitive decline and decrease the incidence of Alzheimer's by 30 to 60 per cent.

7. Eat fish

Some theories credit the introduction of fish into the human diet with the evolution of our tremendous cognitive prowess. Essential fatty acids, such as Omega 3s, are critical to brain function and are proving beneficial for treating such brain-sapping ailments as depression.

8. Chill out

Stress takes a toll on the brain by washing harmful chemicals over the hippocampus and other brain areas involved in memory. Some scientists suspect that living a balanced lifestyle and pursuing relaxing activities such as yoga, socializing and crafting may delay memory impairment by reducing stress.

9. Skip the supplements

Supplements have been getting a bad rap recently, with even the familiar multivitamin now looking like a waste of money -- or worse. Despite their 'natural' origins, they are not free of potential side effects, such as high blood pressure, digestion trouble, fertility problems and depression.

10. Tease your brain

Whether crossword puzzles, sudokus and other brain teasers actually keep your brain in shape, has not been well-established. However, lack of education is a strong predictor of cognitive decline. The more you've tried to learn, the better you'll be at mental sit-ups in old age.

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