Thursday, April 19, 2012

Memory Function - Part 1

I've been reading lots of articles lately that talk about improving our memory function.  I know, this is really nothing new, however, it is an important topic just like improving our fitness...which is in the news every day.

Do you every feel like you are not using your brain some days?  Are you bored at work, or do you not feel challenged?  Well you're probably not alone.  Many Americans report that they feel they are NOT using their brains enough.  Our brain is a muscle, and just like other muscles (quads, biceps, etc), if we don't use them they will eventually begin to atrophy (reduce in size); or in the case of our brain it will begin to lose it's memory function.

Here are just a few simple suggestions from Jackie Keller, certified professional wellness coach and founder of NutriFit, to help keep your brain working and improve it's memory function.

1.  Keep a journal - write about things you enjoy or that come to your mind
2.  Practice math - instead of using a calculator, use the skill s you learned in grade school
3.  Take classes - go back to school and learn something new
4.  Relax - relaxation helps clear the mind...take a yoga or meditation class
5.  Use the map/atlas - instead of printing out a mapquest profile or a GPS for directions, use the map
6.  Turn off the TV/phone - remove distractions and avoid interruptions by working on your concentration

One of my favorite exercises for the brain, and one my father-in-law shared with me, is to move certain things in the house to different locations.  For example, I'm sure all of us know where the kitchen garbage can is and could probably find it with our eyes closed.  Try moving it to a new location in the kitchen.  You'll be surprised how many times you will go to the "old" location out of habit.

Other factors that can help boost our brain power include exercise, staying hydrated, and eating healthy.  Including 30 minutes of daily exercise has been shown to reduce age-related brain decline, Archives of Internal Medicine.  Drinking water will help prevent the brain from becoming groggy, or having poor concentration.  As a general rule, aim for 6-8 glasses of water a day and adjust as needed based on the color of your urine.  If your urine is dark yellow/brown, you need to consume more water, and it it is clear you are drinking too much.  When you get up in the morning, try to get in a habit of drinking 1-2 glasses of water immediately.  Finally, eating healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains and vegetables will help keep the brain healthy.  Consuming some supplements can also help improve memory.  I would advice checking with your Dr. before starting to add or increase your supplement intake.  One such supplement that is very important is Fish Oil.  Fish oil is an essential fatty acid and contains docohexaernoic acid (DHA), which makes up the majority of our brain, and helps to improve cognitive function.  

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