If you've got little ones, does it feel like your neurons are dying as you read Goodbye Moon (as lovely as it is) for the 246th time? If you've got older kids is their math homework making you break out in a sweat? There are many reasons for wanting to upgrade your smarty-pants quotient. But is there anything you can do?
Think of your grey matter as a muscle that needs regular exercise. Chess, crosswords, reading—all these activities get your higher functions firing, and make ever more intricate connections between your neurons.
Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known to boost brain function. This, in addition to all the other health benefits of omega-3, of course. Smarten up with walnuts, flaxseed, and fish like salmon and mackerel.
I know what you're thinking—coffee only gives a temporary jolt to those neurons, right? Wrong. Studies have linked coffee with a decreased rate of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other forms of dementia.
Making a regular practice of meditation has been shown to improve memory and cognitive sharpness.
Research backs up what your mama always told you. Eating that oh-so-crucial morning meal has been shown to improve short-term memory and attention. Students with a good breakfast under their belt tend to perform significantly better than those who skipped their Wheaties.
Vitamin E is a superb antioxidant, and antioxidants are associated with less "now where did I put my keys?" as you age. Nuts and seeds happen to have lots of vitamin E.
Specifically, dark chocolate. This yummy treat also has powerful antioxidant properties (plus a little caffeine—see above). Keep your daily intake limited to an ounce, however, or say hello to a nice new muffin top.
Animal research has demonstrated the benefits of blueberries: they appear to protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of Alzheimer's and dementia. Plus, aging rats on a blueberry-rich diet showed significant improvement in learning capacity and motor skills.
A multitude of studies show the link between lack of sleep and mental dullness: poor memory, crummy concentration, slow reaction time, inefficient learning...and on, and on. So hit the sack. Your brain (and body) will thank you.
Baby brain, begone.
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