Keep your mind sharp with these top holistic tips from nutritionist Sarah Flower
Up your nutrients
Zinc is key for brain health and is found to be deficient in people who suffer from mental health problems like depression. Ensure your diet is packed with zinc-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, spinach, wheat germ and fish. For an extra boost take a supplement with ginseng, a vital nutrient that can help to enhance cognitive function, memory and energy levels. Try Power Health’s Power Ginseng herbal remedy which contains Korean ginseng roots, the most potent ginseng available (£7.90, powerhealth.co.uk).
Cardio has been proven to preserve brain health; when your blood is pumping, it circulates around your brain and bathes your cells in oxygen and glucose, which they need to function. The more they get, the more your performance improves. When you work your muscles, hormones rush to your brain and mix with a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This plays a vital role in brain cell growth, mood regulation and learning. There are lots of easy options for getting started – why not try the NHS Couch to 5k for a gentle way into running? To find out more visit nhs.uk/LiveWell.
Many of us experience brain fog and a dip in concentration as we are constantly on the go, and for this reason it’s important to factor in some ‘down time’ in your busy schedule – a few moments a day to simply relax and turn your thoughts off.
Try to set aside at least 15 minutes to do this and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll feel the benefits. You can practise mindfulness techniques with the Headspace app, where you’ll find a whole host of guided meditations to try. To see how it works visit headspace.com.
Have a full night’s kip
Sleep is not only essential for our general wellbeing, but vital for our brain health, too. Long-term sleep deprivation can cause irreparable damage to brain cells, not to mention low moods, so it is important to ensure you get at least eight hours of sleep to experience a full sleep cycle. Low magnesium can often be a cause of sleep difficulty, and a great way to up your intake is with a supplement like Wild Nutrition’s Food-Grown Magnesium (available at wildnutrition.com for £16.50).
Train your brain
Learning a second language offers benefits for improving intelligence, memory and concentration. If you’re learning a new language later in life there are advantages compared to learning as a child; picking up vocabulary from a new language is much easier for adults, as they already have an extensive vocabulary and can map the new words to their pre-existing knowledge. Apps like Duolingo (duolingo.com) make learning a new language easy by providing exercises you can complete on-the-go.
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