Sugar and Spice Advice on powering up brain cells!

Scanning of a human brain by X-rays
Scanning of a human brain by X-rays

Let’s talk about powering up brain cells.

Your memory does more than remind you of a special birthday. Consider that your ability to remember impacts your driving, work performance, maintaining relationships, and doing such things as typing, remembering phone numbers. Memory problems are not just a problem for the elderly. In fact, the more stress we are under and the increasing number of things we do need to remember can make things tough and make us a little forgetful. We can all use a boost to our memories.

The good news is you can take action now to improve your short- and long-term memory skills. There are some techniques and even some foods that can help.
Exercise your brain. Try brushing your hair or your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Put your shoes on with your eyes closed. Using lesser areas of the brain for tasks can improve your brain’s ability, including your memory.

Review often. To commit info to memory, review it daily and then at less frequent intervals. If you have a test to be ready for you’ll do better on the test if you study as recommended above instead of cramming.

Write it down. If you want to remember something jot down the info, then speak the info aloud, or post it on the bathroom mirror or some other place that you will see frequently, and check it often.

Sleep well. When you are tired your brain doesn’t function as well as it does when you are well-rested.

Exercise and quit smoking. Both will improve oxygen delivery to your cerebrum. The brain loves oxygen.

Try mnemonic devices. For those in healthcare there is a mnemonic called MONA. This helps healthcare providers to remember to give morphine, oxygen, nitroglycerin, and aspirin to someone with chest pain. There are many mnemonics out there. Mnemonics are brain clues that help you remember info by associating it with visual images, acronyms, rhymes, or by storing data in your brain in smaller chunks. For example, it is easier to remember a social security number because it is broken into 3 small sections.

Consume complex carbohydrates.  These foods increase serotonin which is a brain chemical that has a calming effect when you are feeling stressed.

Eat foods rich in protein.  These foods increase tyrosine, dopamine, and norepinephrine which help to increase alertness.

Enjoy healthy fats (meaning Omega-3 Fatty Acids). Your brain cells are covered in a membrane made up of these fats which help control many brain processes.

Some vitamin deficiencies can have an effect of your mental health. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is found in legumes, some seeds, and fortified grains. This vitamin is essential in maintaining your energy supply and coordinating the activity of muscles and nerves. A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to weakness, irritability, and depression.

Vitamin B9 (aka folate) is found in leafy greens as well as legumes and fortified grains. It is essential to supporting red blood cell production (red blood cells are necessary to avoid anemia) and allowing nerves to function properly. Folate deficiency can result in depression, apathy, fatigue, poor sleep, and poor concentration,

You do not need a supplement of either one if you are eating a healthy, well-rounded diet. Try these ideas and keep your brain in gear.

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