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Most living creatures have a nervous system with a brain at the center. It's how we process information in order to determine how to act on it, and how we store the memory of our experiences for future reference. This system allowed our early ancestors to survive more effectively by being able to recall past encounters with predators, prey, environments, and situations. The human brain stands out because although it has the same overall design as other mammals, its size is about triple that, weighing in at about three pounds (in an adult).
Neuroscientists estimate that this organ houses about 100 billion neurons in communication with each other. To send signals, they rely on up to 1,000 trillion synaptic connections, like a network. Our brain is constantly at work, collecting and processing all of the sensory information we receive at every moment. The brain uses this information to make decisions about our bodily functions. It's also responsible for our learning and memory, and all of the processes involved in the acts of thinking, speaking, and planning.
Even with such a complex organ on our side, a lot of people struggle to keep their cognitive function and memory strong. It's not just the elderly, either. Students, parents, teachers, professionals, people from all walks of life and all ages might hit a wall at some point.
Whether it's stress, illness, lifestyle, environment, there are things that can be done to give your brain the boost it may need.
Many of us have heard of this one from a family member at some point. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for boosting our brain and as a bonus, they're pretty much good for everything else too. Taking fish oil could reduce inflammation, reduce stress, soothe anxiety, and even help prevent heart disease. If you can't consume fish product, there are options, such as flax seed oil or chia seeds. Just keep in mind that while these products do contain the omega-3 (ALA), they don't have any of the EPA or DHA found in fish oil.
Sleep is probably an obvious one. How many of us have been trying to get work done in the morning after a terrible night of sleep. We can't remember half of what our boss just said and we keep forgetting a client's name. Occasional poor sleep is tough on its own, but when it becomes chronic, problems arise. Sleep is when the housekeeper comes and clears out what we don't need in our brain, while safely storing what we do. Try to come up with a good sleep routine that involves time winding down away from screens. Even a beginner-level meditation practice is beneficial for giving your brain and body a rest break.
Cut back on products with added sugar and even refined carbs. I know we all hate hearing this one. But a sugar-addled system could not only develop chronic, permanent health issues in general, but the brain is affected as well. And carbs with a high glycemic index shoot our blood-sugar levels through the roof, also affecting cognition.
Brain exercises are not only easy to work into your daily app-playing routine, but they're fun. Word and number games are great, but there are also many apps designed specifically to help improve memory. Even starting to learn a new language exercises your brain by forming new pathways.
You may have noticed the wave of mushroom supplement brands in the past few years. Even though we've known for thousands of years about the medicinal benefits of mushrooms like Lion's Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, and more, it's just now starting to become mainstream. You can find so many blogs and stories all over from people finding mushrooms to be the game-changer in their cupboard of supplements. Taking a blend in your morning cup of coffee or tea is super easy.
Whether you have brain fog from an illness or your lifestyle is affecting your processing power, you can take steps to support your brain and memory.