Brain training has seen a stark rise in popularity in the last 10 years. With the advent of brain games, people seem more receptive to the idea of training their brain because it’s been made into a game. In actuality, this fad has spread a misconception that brain games can greatly increase your brain function.
Brain training games and exercises are very good for improving your ability to play the games and do the exercises. As with any test, repeated test taking improves your ability to perform better and better. And while it’s true that the games may increase your focus and memory while playing – it’s difficult to say what the effects are afterwards.
The following three factors will probably make the biggest impact on improving brain function. The reasoning for each is explained below.
To be attentive means to focus on the thought, feeling or situation at hand. In order to fully understand things, attentiveness is required – therefore attentiveness itself is necessary to improve understanding and reasoning. Many forms of meditation are aimed at improving attentiveness. Many studies have shown that the ability to be attentive or mindful is connected to better well-being, lower blood pressure, and decrease in chronic pain.
There’s a great deal of evidence that shows that vocalization in the form of rhythmic singing and chanting creates brain plasticity in stroke patients and helps speed rehabilitation. Those stroke patients whose brain was damaged in way that impaired speech, were still able to sing.
By combining attentiveness with vocalization, we get attentive vocalization. This practice is the cornerstone of meditation practices in the East for millennia. Transcendental meditation and japa meditation has been used by many cultures to improve well-being and raise consciousness. These elements are just now being recognized by modern science. Meditation has been shown to cause structural changes in the brain in as little as 4-6 weeks. Practicing this form of meditation activates both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Meditation also increases the size of the corpus callosum, strengthening the brain’s ability to communicate between its left and right hemispheres.
We recommend doing a minimum of 10 minutes of attentive vocalization each day in the form of mantra meditation. Try Saagara’s Universal Meditation app for guided mantra meditation on the go.
Regular daily exercise improves a multitude of bodily conditions, including mental acuity. Studies have shown that exercise may prevent dementia and improve cognitive function.
Aerobic exercise in particular releases a hormone called BDNF which stimulates the growth of new brain cells. Aerobic exercise also increases blood flow to the brain, and increases neuronal activity. Physical activity is said to be the most beneficial and cost effective therapy to improve memory performance.
We recommend doing a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise each day. Ideally this should include 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week. Try Saagara’s Core Yoga app for a simple introduction to yoga for people of all ages.
Without the proper nutrients your brain needs to function, your brain will not be able to perform at its peak ability. Many of the best nutrients for your brain are present in fruits, vegetables, protein and “good fats”.
The brain requires amino acids in protein to build neurotransmitters – the brain-signalling chemicals required for cognition. Healthy fats – especially Omega-3 fatty acids – are required to build the myelin sheath which protects the neurons of the brain. Foods such as walnuts, avocados and fish contain many of the compounds needed for proper brain function. Eating fruits such as raspberries and blueberries has been linked to slower mental decline in memory and focus – possibly attributed to their high polyphenol content.
We recommend eating a minimum of 2 cups of fruits and 3 cups of vegetables each day, and at least 1 serving of healthy protein/fat. Use the free Organic Diet Buddy app to guide you through the grocery store lanes and let you know which produce should be bought organic and which is safe to eat conventional.
You’ll only need to spend half an hour each day to actually increase cognitive performance. By practicing mantra meditation, exercising, and eating right – your brain will naturally perform at its best ability. For more information on meditation, exercise and diet, visit Saagara.com.