14 Ways to Improve Memory and Brain Health – Saturday Strategy
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When it comes to taking care of yourself, far too often the health of this very important organ gets left behind, which is really a bummer considering the important role it plays in our day-to-day life and overall health!
I hear it all the time – “my memory is getting so much worse the older I get!” – and I’ve got news for you, my friend… it doesn’t have to be that way!!! (seriously)
Every millisecond of every day, multiple series of events occur within the brain. Billions of brain cells – called neurons – transmit signals back and forth to one another; they do it at trillions of junctions, called synapses. This process is extremely fast and efficient and imperative to everything the brain does for us, including learning, memorization, planning, reasoning and allowing us to move our body.
When any part of the process breaks down, the results can be life-altering, even devastating.
Many brain disorders and nervous system diseases, including autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy have been linked to problems at the synapse. Many of these same disorders have also been linked to poor gut health (more on that later)! So when you think about taking care of your body, the care you provide to your brain should be at the forefront!
Fun Facts about your incredible BRAIN
- it weighs about 3 pounds (adult)
- it is about 2% of your total body weight
- it has about 100 billion neurons
- unconsciousness will occur approx. 8-10 seconds after blood supply to the brain
- neurons multiply at a rate of 250,000 neurons/minute during early pregnancy
- it grows and develops up until 25 years of age and then starts to decline
If you think that you are too young to worry about brain disorders that most commonly affect older generations, it’s time to think again. Studies show that the beginning – often undetectable stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia – begin as early as 30 years before the onset of any symptoms.
And guess what? Like everything else in your body – and your life – your brain is connected to other critical organs, such as your gut!
If you are someone who suffers from poor brain function and chronic GI issues, you may need to take a closer look at the health of your gut-brain axis – which is the intimate relationship between your gut and your brain.
Symptoms of an impaired gut-brain axis include:
- Difficulty digesting food – leading to gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea
- Distention (bloating) after meals
- Intolerance to food groups, such as protein, starches and/or fats
- Frequent abdominal discomfort after meals
- Foggy thinking, poor memory
- Illness and disease
FACT: One of the earliest signs of poor brain function is actually poor digestion.
Did you know…
The digestive system has it’s own nervous system – ENS, or the Enteric Nervous System. The brain communicates with the ENS thru the vagus nerve.
>>> Check out another a video/blog we did on gut health and see where you stack up!
The good news is that there is so much we can do to improve the health of both of these organs… today we’re going to focus specifically on your almighty BRAIN!
I’ve talked a lot about the effects of chronic inflammation in the body – and your brain is no different!
The cornerstone of all degenerative conditions, including brain disorders, is inflammation. At the center of chronic inflammation is the concept of oxidative stress – a biological type of “rusting.” This erosion happens on all tissues. It’s a normal part of life; it occurs everywhere in nature, including when our bodies turn calories (energy) from food and oxygen from the air into usable energy.
When it runs rampant – when the body can’t keep inflammation under healthy control – it can become deadly.
THE EFFECTS OF NEUROINFLAMMATION
Neuroinflammation – inflammation of the brain – causes symptoms such as:
- brain fog
- unclear thoughts
- low brain endurance
- slow and varied mental speeds
- loss of brain function after trauma
- brain fatigue and poor mental focus after meals
- brain fatigue promoted by systemic inflammation
- brain fatigue promoted by chemicals, scents and pollutants
Do any of these sound familiar to you? Sadly, many of you reading this will relate far too much to at least one of these. And you’re not alone!
Before I began juicing and really focusing on creating a healthy lifestyle, I struggled with some of these symptoms. There were times where I would walk into a room and forget why I went in there. There were times where I would lose my train of thought, which was embarrassing in situations where I needed to be “on” and focused. Remembering names was important in my personal and professional life and I found that this simple task really wasn’t that simple for me at all.
I am happy to report that nowadays, I am mentally focused, alert and my memorization skills are golden! I am on top of my mental game and YOU can be too!
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
There are certain compounds that reduce neuroinflammation, including Vitamin D, Glutathione, Resveratrol and Curcumin and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. The cool thing is that you can get a lot of these from REAL, WHOLE foods!
Some of the best food sources to include in your healthy diet to ensure you’re getting these compounds each day include:
- Vitamin D – salmon, tuna, sardines, eggs, mushrooms
- Glutathione – sulfur-rich foods such as: garlic, onions, cruciferous veggies (kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower)
- Resveratrol – grapes, blueberries, cranberries, dark chocolate… moderation, peeps! 🙂
- Curcumin – this is the active ingredient in turmeric, which is amazing juiced or added to stir-fry, free-range organic chicken or seafood dishes
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – flaxseeds, walnuts, sardines, salmon, shrimp
A healthy diet plays a huge roll in your overall health – and that includes the health of your brain too!
A diet heavy in inflammatory carbs (breads, pasta, pastries, candy, cake, etc.) and low in healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.) negatively affects the mind in more ways than one! This imbalance in nutrients increases your risk of neurological disorders and not just for dementia, but for common neurological ailments such as ADHD, anxiety disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, mental illness, migraines and even autism.
When you increase these healthy foods, you give your brain a great space to flourish and thrive, with and for you!
- Healthy fat – EVOO, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, avocado, almond milk, coconuts, olives, nut butters and seeds
- Herbs, seasoning and condiments
- Low-glycemic fruit – avocado, bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, zucchini, squash, pumpkin, eggplant, lemons, limes
- Protein – whole eggs, wild fish, grass fed beef
- Veggies – leafy greens, collards, spinach, broccoli, kale, chard, cabbage, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, sauerkraut, artichoke, alfalfa sprouts, green beans, celery, bok choy, watercress, asparagus, garlic, leek, fennel, shallots, scallions, ginger, jicama, parsley
In addition to maintaining a balanced plate, there are plenty of awesome sensory stimulation modalities to fuel your brain and improve YOUR mental fitness!
Brain dysfunction is really no different than heart dysfunction. It develops over time through our behaviours and habits. This means that we consciously prevent disorders of our nervous system and even cognitive decline much in the way we can stave off heart disease: by eating right and getting our exercise.
With the science now telling us that many of our brain-related illnesses – from depression to dementia – are closely related to our nutritional and lifestyle choices, it’s no wonder that more and more people are experiencing neurological issues considering our Standard American Diet (SAD) and lack of movement.
Many people sit at a desk all day and aren’t getting adequate exercise to support their body’s needs. Maybe you’re one of them. How cool though that YOU have the power to change that and it starts with your decision to start and take action. 🙂
FACT: Only one in hundred of us will get through life without any mental impairment, let alone a headache or two. Now that’s crazy!
14 TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL FITNESS
Here are some tips to help you improve your mental fitness and get you moving on the right track to a much happier – and healthier – brain!
1. Exercise for 30 minutes every day.
Physical exercise delivers oxygen to the brain. This can help to improve your memory, reasoning abilities and reaction times, as well as your mood, physique and confidence.
2. Read often and read widely.
Keeping an active interest in the world around you will help to exercise your brain and improve your mental fitness. I’m not talking about the negative stories all over the news and the internet. Dive into something more meaningful! If you love business, a great book that my team and I just read is called Traction by Gino Wickman, which was great. Maybe you love spirit-science or maybe you are into personal development books. Find something you are genuinely interested in and get your learn on! 🙂
3. Boost your levels of vitamin B.
Wild fish, pasture-raised eggs, free-range organic chicken and leafy greens are all great sources. Vitamin B is essential to brain health.
4. Challenge your intellect and memory.
Stretch yourself mentally by learning a new language, doing crossword puzzles or trivia. This is important for brain health and can be a really fun way to connect with your friends and make new ones!
5. Take time to relax.
Excess stress hormones like cortisol can be harmful to the brain. Schedule regular periods of relaxation each week, such as meditation, prayers, yoga, or whatever makes you feel rested and at peace in your mind, body and spirit.
6. Take up a new hobby.
Learning something new gives the ‘grey matter’ a workout and builds neural pathways in the brain. Have you always wanted to learn how to paint? Learn to speak Spanish or French? Now is the time! 🙂
7. Actively manage your health.
Conditions such as diabetes or heart disease can affect mental performance if not diagnosed and treated. Be sure to have regular check-ups with your doctor to prevent these issues. If something feels “off,” be sure to share this information in your appointment. And whatever you do, don’t be afraid to get a second, third, fourth opinion either! This is YOUR health and it matters – so do you. 🙂
8. Engage in stimulating conversations.
Talk to friends and family about a wide range of topics. This gives your brain an opportunity to explore, examine and enquire. It also allows you to connect on a deeper level with those around you. At Fitlife, we like to call this “soul food.”
9. Exercise your brain with others.
Watch, question and answer game shows and enjoy the competitive spirit. Involve the family in regular games to test their general knowledge and yours! No matter your age or experience, there is always something new to learn.
Taking 5-10 minutes first thing in the morning to write down 3 things you are grateful for is a really easy way to radically improve your life! Using your thoughts to intentionally change your emotions is often referred to as positive psychology and can have a profound affect on your mental, physical and spiritual state. There is so much we take for granted, especially the simple things we use every day. Thank your body for all that it does for you – your eyes to see; your skin to protect you; your ears to listen; your mouth to speak and nourish your cells. When you take the time to dig in, your heart can’t help but overflow and be reminded of how truly blessed we are to be alive!
11. Practice mindfulness meditation.
A study from Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.”
12. Intermittent fasting.
This study shows that short-term fasting induces neuronal autophagy. Autophagy, or “self-eating,” is the process by which cells recycle waste material, downregulate wasteful processes and repair themselves. Brain health is highly dependent on neuronal autophagy. It also increases levels of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). Low levels of BDFN are linked to Alzheimer’s. Of course, this is not for everyone. Particularly, if you are a female dealing with any kind of hormonal imbalance, be sure to check with your healthcare professional before trying this for yourself.
13. Support your gut with probiotics.
Your gut health is a major player in the health of your entire body. 70-80% of your immune system resides here, while 95% of your serotonin (the “feel good” hormone) calls this place home as well. Including a probiotic daily is a great way to replenish your healthy flora, which is depleted through the food we eat, the air we breathe, stress, prescription drugs and so much more.
14. JUICE, baby!
Vegetables are one of the best sources of nutrition, because they are chock-full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds to support brain health (along with many other systems in the body). If you don’t have time to juice, no problem! Grab a bottle of our very own Organifi – our Organic Superfood Green Juice Powder – and get your daily dose of greens in less than 30-seconds a day! All you need is water. 🙂
Here’s one of my go-to recipes, great for brain health AND sooooo good! 🙂
And this week’s JUICER WINNER is…
Drew’s Green Juice
- 1 cucumber
- 1 bunch of parsley
- ½ lime
- 1 knuckle of ginger
- 3 kale leaves
- 1 bunch of dandelion greens
- 2 tbsp MCT oil (liquid coconut oil would work too)
- Pinch of celtic sea salt
- Wash and prep all ingredients.
- Feed into your juicer and enjoy! 🙂
Congratulations, Matt! Enjoy your new juicer 🙂
For a quick, easy and powerful concoction that can help you reach your health goals, PLEASE check out our Organifi Green Juice.
Disclaimer: The techniques, strategies, and suggestions expressed here are intended to be used for educational purposes only. The author, Drew Canole, and the associated www.fitlife.tv are not rendering medical advice, nor to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, condition, illness, or injury.
It is imperative that before beginning any nutrition or exercise program you receive full medical clearance from a licensed physician.
Drew Canole and Fitlife.tv claim no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented here.
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