Are you looking to improve your cognitive function? Well, you’re in the right place.
Cognitive health is paramount to the fortune of our lives because we want to be sharp, clear, and executive when it comes to decision-making each and every day.
In this article, we will cover general guidelines that can significantly improve your cognitive health, and consequently memory.
So keep reading to find out more.
Cognitive Health Risk Reduction
Lifestyle, environmental, genetic factors all have an influence on cognitive health. Some of them can severely contribute to a diminishing ability in cognitive function, and capacity for performing everyday activities such as cooking, driving, socializing, etc.
Genetic factors are inherited from the parental tree to a child, thus cannot be controlled (so far at least). But lifestyle and environmental factors can certainly be adapted, those that you can control on your own in particular.
These include but are not limited to:
- Heart conditions, such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease
- Physical activity
- Smoking habits
- Alcohol consumption
- Sleep irregularities
- Social activity
- Brain injury
- Herbal medicines
In any case, the list goes on and on, but we will keep it at that for now. And for the sake of implementing changes that can improve your cognitive healthy now, we will address a couple from the list.
Through regular exercises, physical activities, gardening, household chores—being physically active is paramount to cognitive health, not only physiological.
Physical activity can help you improve your strength, mobility, and flexibility. It will increase your baseline energy levels while preventing/delaying health conditions. It will reduce depressive symptoms, and enhance overall mood.
However, what’s most interesting is that physical activity can help stimulate the brain’s ability to retain and manage old neural networks, and create new ones which are vital for cognitive execution. An increase in brain size structure leads to improved spatial memory, learning, and much more.
In general, aerobic exercise is of more benefit for cognitive health, such as running, fast walking. You should be getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. If you’re not moving at least 30 minutes each day, you’re not living.
Movement is life, nothing is motionless. If you need help, you can join a group or lesson center that will help you transition from mild movement to vigorous exercise.
Activate the Mind
Engaging your brain intellectually is of great benefit. People who interact in meaningful hobbies, such as volunteering are healthier and happier. Learning new skills will enhance thinking ability.
Working or volunteering can be really rewarding. Not only does mental stimulating activity prevent serious cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s, but they are also really fun.
Such activities defend the brain through the development of cognitive reserve, which allows the mind to adapt to mental function. Thus compensating for age-related changes that might affect it.
If you’re looking for something more formal, you can participate in cognitive training programs that involve reasoning, memory, processing-speed training. These sessions will certainly assist you in developing your mental skills in the area that is being trained. If done right, these changes can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years without further involvement, isn’t that awesome?
However, be wary of games and computer programs claiming that they can improve your thinking and memory. Evidence is scarce, and most of these are commercial. The NIA has supported research linked to various cognitive training that you can take on.
If you’re looking to improve your memory based on science, Dual-N-Back is a game that involves auditory and visual input memorization that can significantly improve your short-term retention.
If you want to reduce the risk of serious chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, a healthy diet is a way to go. However, it will also help you keep your brain at optimal health.
A healthy diet is different for everybody. In general, it consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, poultry, lean meats, non-fat dairy products. You should also limit the consumption of salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Control your portions and drink lots of liquids.
There is some evidence that the Mediterranean diet has the lowest risk for the development of mild cognitive impairment. Thus leading to improved brain health.
There is also a specific diet called the MIND diet, which combines the DASH and Mediterranean diets. It is suggested that it can affect the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in a positive manner.
If you’re looking for something to add to your diet, check out key herbals.
Mindfulness is a natural state of being that allows you to be present in the situation while retaining awareness of your feelings and surroundings. Mindfulness can be part of meditation, but it is not the same thing.
Meditation is a formal practice. Whereas mindfulness is a habitual mental exercise that you can implement in any situation. Being mindful is being able to control your own stress while improving your concentration, and consequently your memory.
Mindfulness is also associated with a decrease in age-related cognitive decline risk, and improvement of psychological wellbeing.
There are many ways to introduce mindfulness in your life, but the easiest way is to pay attention to the present through conscious effort. Concentrate on the breath, reset the attention when it wanders.
For instance, you’re being mindful now unconsciously. If you’re researching this topic, you’re mindful of something that you want to resolve, and that’s a great place to start. Mindfulness is just a tool for achieving clarity within and without yourself, thus leading to a better quality of life.
To specifically address your cognitive skills, you can play various brain games that are fun and challenging. Tetris, word-recall, crosswords, sudoku, chess are all dedicated to memory training in a variety of ways.
A short session of 20 minutes a day will make the world of difference in your memory performance. Not to mention, your problem solving and concentration will be enhanced tremendously.
Also, any type of brain-training game will help reduce the risk of dementia in aged people. Dementia is primarily of genetic origin, but it is preventable through serious exercise, brain-training, diet, and other practices that have not been mentioned in this article.
Eating added sugar leads to the development of various chronic health issues, including a decline in cognition.
A sugar-laden diet will ensure that your memory is worsened, that your brain volume is reduced, and that your attention is sporadic.
In studies, those with a higher sugar intake had lower brain volume and poorer memories in comparison to those who consumed less.
Cut back on sugar and recognize the difference. A single day of no sugar consumption can deliver tremendous noticeable change. However, for optimal results that you can actually feel, it’s best to cut out sugar for two weeks minimum.
Fish oil is a great supplementation to your already renewed diet for the fact that it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid.
EPA and DHA are known to improve overall health while reducing inflammation, relieving people of anxiety and stress, delaying mental decline, and reducing risks of chronic diseases.
Fish oil consumption from a healthy and quality source can have a tremendous impact on working memory and short-term storage. However, these results are often the result of chronic supplementation.
People who suffer from memory loss can consume DHA and EPA which helps develop episodic memory helping them remember the greater picture.
Both of the fatty acids are vital to your health and reduce inflammation in the entire body which is known to be associate with cognitive decline.
Your Cognition, Your Mission
Now that you know how to improve your cognitive health through risk reduction, supplementation, and exercise, you are well on your way to experiencing the newfound or recovered capabilities of your mind.
The human brain is very capable, but there are certain things that dwindle upon its performance tremendously. And it’s our job as the captain of this ship to mitigate these irregularities and bring our mind back in balance.
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