10 Simple Ways to Boost Brain Power
Full confession upfront: I spent the past summer bouncing between spit-take laughter and tiny-hair-tinging creep-outs while thoroughly enjoying the timely, audacious CBS TV political satire, “BrainDead.” In it, a Capitol Hill underling who works for her powerful U.S. Senator brother uses her brain, heart and human intuition to uncover a most inconvenient truth: space bugs have emerged from the D.C. cherry blossoms to take over the brains of key members of Congress as a not-so-illogical first step toward world domination. Any similarities between this story line and congressional gridlock are purely intentional.
But one can’t easily come away from “BrainDead” without wondering: how might I buff up my brain so as to avoid space bugs? Or crazy senior VPs, cranky caterers and otherwise-focused event staff?
Fortunately, “Staying Sharp: 9 Keys for a Youthful Brain through Modern Science and Ageless Wisdom” by psychiatrist Henry Emmons, M.D. and clinical psychologist David Alter, Ph.D. contains dozens of ways to pump up the old gray matter before next cherry blossom season.
Here are 10 favorites that event pros can easily incorporate into a busy daily routine:
Grab your colors: Who knew that coloring could do more for busy moms and dads than provide a breather from the kids? Turns out science supports the recent adult coloring trend as a brain booster that relieves stress and encourages meditation and imagination.
Coffee? Yes, please! According to a Johns Hopkins study, the 200 milligrams of caffeine found in a strong morning cup of joe has a positive impact on how much you’ll remember during the next 24 hours.
Get jiggy with your toothbrush: Righty, meet Lefty! That’s right: shifting from your dominant hand for daily chores such as tooth brushing improves your cognitive function by spurring your brain to generate growth-stimulating molecules. IMHO, it’s also a laugh riot!
Guacamole? Si! If you’re like me, you hardly need coaxing to consume avocados in any form. But if not, try them. Emmons says they contain medium-chain fatty acids that buff up your brain and reduce inflammation. Ole!
Work it your way: Whether you choose to move your body by jogging, dancing or simply trying to master that confounding half-ball floor thingy, a University of British Columbia study assures us that aerobic exercise pumps up our hippocampus, the brain area that helps us learn and retain.
Switch to red for your head: Though you might not consider Texas A&M University a hotbed of enophiles, researchers there have confirmed that resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red wine, improves learning, memory and mood. That said, a glass and a freshen should serve the purpose.
Close your eyes for this one! No, really: close your eyes. Scientists in the UK have determined that doing so while recalling an event helps us remember the details 23 percent more accurately.
Get nutty. Why do you suppose an elephant never forgets? Peanuts are packed with those same cognitive cheerleaders, resveratrol.
Red pen = head pen: Without knowing why, I’ve used a red pen for years in my daily notetaking. Now I know why: a new study out of Germany found that the color red “binds” to our memory better than the more pedestrian blacks and blues, making it the perfect hue for list-makers.
Feast with besties and family: You may consider lunch with your buds or dinner with the fam as downtime, but your brain feels the upside of socializing. The more we interact with friends and family, the more we benefit brain cell health, with the possible exception of weird uncle Norm.
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