3 must-know ways to keep your brain stimulated.

May 31, 2021

3 must-know ways to keep your brain stimulated.

Most of us fit in at least a couple of workouts every week to keep our bodies healthy and in shape, but it turns out that exercising our brain might be just as important for our overall health.
Our brain has a variety of cognitive and emotional functions and is responsible for keeping our body running all day long. Our brain not only assists us in thinking and learning new things, but it also governs vital activities such as movement and speech. However, the brain is similar to a muscle - you either use it, or you lose it.
Studies have found that the brain reaches optimum performance at around 25 years of age, after which it gradually declines over time. Fortunately, researchers have uncovered a variety of evidence-based methods for keeping the brain stimulated and your thinking agile and engaged.
Here are three sure-fire ways to keep your brain healthy for years to come:

1. Challenge your brain

Just like any other muscle in your body, your brain needs to be regularly challenged in order to stay strong and sharp. Brain training through activities such as quizzes, games, and puzzles, for example, has repeatedly been credited with improving memory, cognitive functioning, mental agility, and concentration, while slowing the rate of cognitive deterioration in older people.
Thankfully, the options are endless. If you enjoy board games, opt for brain-stimulating games such as chess, checkers, or bridge, which have been found to boost memory in older adults.
Brain-stimulating apps like Peak or Luminosity are another popular alternative today. Both apps were created by neuroscientists and have been scientifically shown to help you train your brain by putting your memory, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking to the test through enjoyable and stimulating games. Apps like this have the added benefit of allowing you to keep track of your progress and set targets.
The Brain Foundation of Australia is another wonderful (and free!) resource, with a variety of ideas, quizzes, games, and activities to keep your mind strong and sharp.

2. Nourish your brain with a healthy diet.

The brain, just like any other high-performance machine, requires high-quality fuel.
Researchers have found that a well-balanced, plant-focused diet that is low in saturated fat and abundant in vitamins and minerals is crucial for a healthy brain. It's also a good idea to consume alcohol in moderation.
Interestingly, you might have heard that fish is "brain food", and this is due to the abundance of Omega-3s that is generally found in fatty or oily fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for learning and memory because they are used to form brain and nerve cells.
However, the issue with relying on fish for omega 3 fatty acids is that modern fishing practices have decimated fish populations across the globe while heavy metals have contaminated the fish.
Fortunately, scientists have discovered that the Omega 3 fatty acids that we get from fish are actually derived from the microscopic algae they eat. Therefore, we can now go straight to the source by collecting and harvesting algae, as we have done when formulating our Essential 8. The good news is that studies have shown that algae is just as effective as fish oil, krill oil, and fish in raising levels of long-chain Omega-3s in the body.
This means that those on a plant-based or plant-focused diet can reap the brain-boosting benefits of fatty fish without consuming any fish or the environmental contaminants associated with their consumption.

3. Get your sweat on!

If you’ve ever experienced a “runner’s high” - that deeply soothing feeling of euphoria after a particularly strenuous workout - you’ll know that exercise is just as good for your brain as it is for your body.
This is because, as your heart rate increases during exercise, blood flow to the brain increases. When this happens, your brain receives more oxygen and nutrients. In the short term, this results in your body releasing chemicals called dopamine and endorphins that make you feel happy and euphoric. In the long term, increased blood flow to the brain enhances your cognitive fitness by improving brain plasticity, memory and learning.
The good news is that there is no one-size-fits-all. Find the type of workout you enjoy best - whether it be running, pilates, yoga, cross fit or zumba - anything that gets your blood pumping will be great for your brain!