Top Tips to Keep Your Brain in Tip-Top Shape
Your brain is the most advanced supercomputer in the known universe; its capabilities are almost unlimited. However, if you want to get the best out of it, you need to look after it.
A ground-breaking new book, Sort Your Brain Out, combines the expertise of one of the world’s leading motivational speakers and a famous neuroscientist to help readers unlock the potential of the most powerful tool they will ever own: their brain.
Authors of Sort Your Brain Out, Dr Jack Lewis and Adrian Webster, give us their top tips to help keep your brain in tip-top condition:
Get some sleep! Giving your brain time to catch up with desperately needed repair work is vital. Whilst you’re sleeping your brain is hard at work – breaking and bolstering connections between its 86 billion wires, servicing an additional 86 billion support cells and sending test signals along new circuits. Giving priority to ensuring you get plenty of sleep is one of the very best things you can do to promote long-term brain health.
Start the day with a glass of water. Your brain is 73% water. The efficiency with which it can send electrical messages around its 100,000 miles of brain wires is greatly hindered when you are dehydrated. Your lungs need to be kept moist to get the gases moving in and out of your bloodstream. Upon every exhalation you release water vapour 24/7. During the daytime we replace the lost water whenever eating or drinking, but at night there are few opportunities to do this. By morning there is an imbalance to correct.
Challenge it to keep on changing. What sets your brain apart from manmade computers is neuroplasticity – its ability to physically change to meet the demands of new challenges. By learning new skills we force our brains to restructure to adapt to those skills, provided that is, we practise them regularly, intensely and over long periods.
Take your brain to the gym. As far as brains are concerned, losing fat and toning up is just a sideshow compared to the benefits it gets from you taking regular exercise. The key advantages being that it instantly gets more blood that is rich in glucose and, in your memory banks, new brain cells are born faster.
Avoid sugar overloads. Although it weighs only 2% of your overall body weight, your brain consumes 20% of the oxygen and glucose available in your bloodstream, and that’s when it’s just ticking over! When you’re concentrating hard on something, its demand for energy resources from your blood shoots up to 50%. As a result, people tend to snack on sugary foods. Sugar-loaded snacks are a nightmare for your brain. In too big a quantity sugar can quite literally vandalise your brain’s lines of communication. Go for slow-release carbohydrates instead.
Drink tea or coffee. Caffeine in moderate amounts really does boost your brain’s performance. By blocking the inhibitory effects of adenosine it effectively takes the handbrake off and allows your brain cells to become more active. There are also often significant long-term benefits. Three to five cups of coffee per day appears to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In later life, those who drink up to three cups of coffee per day exhibit significantly delayed cognitive decline than those who abstain from the magic bean.
Put the brakes on. If we lived to be 150 years old, as a result of natural brain aging, we’d all display obvious signs of Age Related Cognitive Decline; if you stick around long enough ARCD is an inevitable thing. There are however four activities associated with slowing the ARCD process down: playing a musical instrument, playing chess, dancing, and reading. All fun to do – and anyone can do them!
Sort Your Brain Out, published by Capstone, is available from www.wiley.com