My cousin Priya was pregnant and like any mother wanted her baby to be a smart one. She religiously followed healthy diets and exercise plans recommended by her doctor to increase her baby’s IQ. This made me wonder if we are born intelligent or we can boost our brain health later on.
Let us explore what factors affect our brain health:
# Train Your Brain
Elders often told us- Practice makes a man perfect, not without a reason. The more you practice, the better your brain gets trained. For example, if you want to improve your skills in Mathematics, practice more of it. Gradually your brain cells will become pro at solving all those mathematical equations you racked your brain with. We can also enhance our memory to accomplish daily tasks and develop the ability make accurate split second decisions.
You can train your brain to become better in any area you like. Your cognitive skills in that particular field will grow with regular practice and focus.
Did you know that your brain is made up of right brain and left brain? They are equal in shape but their functions are totally different.
The right brain can be called the ‘analog’ brain. It is responsible for your three dimensional sensing, creativity and artistic senses. Most of the actors, writers, musicians, singers, painters have a dominant right brain. Now you know what made Mozart create masterpieces. You guessed it – his dominant right brain cells!
On the same note, the left brain is can be called the ‘digital’ brain. It controls logical thinking, reading as well as writing abilities and calculation. Most of the engineers, lawyers, financial analysts and professors have a predominant left brain.
Both right and left side of your brain work in tandem with each other to complete daily tasks. By activating both hemispheres of your brain with practise, you can retain things better and become proficient at any subject, even Mathematics!
# The more you learn new things, the more your brain will grow
All of us can make our IQ level grow by solving problems and learning new things daily. The more you use your brain cells in performing new tasks, experiencing new things and gaining more knowledge the more active your brain will become. It is necessary to keep your brain active to counter the age related ailments like forgetfulness, anxiety, dementia and so on.
So learn a new language, enroll for taekwondo lessons, read more, paint, sing, dance and travel! The list is endless. Just feed your brain with new life experiences and learnings to keep it young and on the go.
# Healthy body for a healthy brain
A healthy mind is a reflection of a healthy body. Exercise helps pump more oxygen into your brain cells. If you coordinate your body parts while exercising your brain cells also get a parallel workout. Exercise hikes up the feel good factor and keeps you away from feeling the blues.
Apart from exercising, meditation also feeds your brain cells. It elevates your focus levels and memory. Research studies show that regular mediation enhances growth in brain areas that are associated with intelligent thinking. Brain tends to process information faster and more quickly with meditation.
# Early to bed and early to rise makes your brain healthy and wise!
Your brain needs ample amount of sleep to function at the optimum level. If your brain is not well rested, it cannot act at its cognitive best. Young children need 10-12 hours of sleep while adults need 7-9 hours of sleep.
Your brain never sleeps. It helps combine and process the learning and experiences that you may have had while awake. It helps resolve many things which you would not have resolved in the waking state. Sleep keeps your mind sharp and consolidates your learning.
# Brain Foods and Ayurveda
Like other parts of your body, your brain requires energy. Food is a major source of energy. If expecting mothers take adequate amount of omega 3 fatty acids in the last trimester, her child will have high IQ level that will last a lifetime. If the infant is fed on mother’s milk, then his IQ will be higher than infants who are fed on formula milk.
In Ayurvedic parlance, if you eat food with ‘Prana’ or life force energy your brain power will get a great boost. Refined, canned, frozen and non vegetarian food lacks prana and not advised in Ayurveda.
Your brain is at the peak of wellness when these 3 aspects are well coordinated – ‘Dhi’ (comprehension), ‘Dhriti’ (retention) and ‘Smriti’ (recall).
A balanced diet constitutes a healthy brain. Fresh fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, dairy products, lentils and pulses, clarified butter (ghee) or a healthy oil and lots of water. Include all 6 types of tastes in your meals. Theses six tastes are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent.
Know the top foods that boost your brain power
-Fresh fruits and veggies like broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, asparagus, olives, leafy greens, blueberries, avocado, blackcurrants etc.
-Whole grains like brown rice, wheat bran etc. release glucose in your blood stream gradually. Glucose provides energy to your brain and keeps your brain alert throughout the day.
-Seeds and nuts like flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts etc. are rich in many nutrients. Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, zinc, iron, selenium, folate and many more nutrients are essential for a healthy brain.
-Protein rich foods contain amino acids that help produce neurotransmitters called dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters keep your mind alert and sharp. Lentils, kidney beans, pulses, spirulina supplements, chickpeas, quinoa etc, are great sources of protein.
-Alcoholism and smoking affect the brain adversely. They cause dementia and other mental ailments over time. Refrain from these habits to keep your brain free from illnesses. See more details here.
# Be positive and cherish good relationships
Stress is a major factor that causes chemical changes in your brain cells. This creates an imbalance in the brain that leads to many diseases like dementia, depression, loss of concentration, anxiety, forgetfulness etc.
Maintain a cheerful disposition in life to keep stress at bay. Provide an encouraging attitude to your kids. It boosts their ability to push themselves beyond what they think is possible and excel. This is also known as the ‘Pygmalion effect’.
Good relationships and socialising also affect your brain health. The variety of friends makes your brain flexible, keep you well informed and challenge you to think creatively. Spouses, parents, friends, relatives and kids are great stress busters. Make due efforts to keep your bonds stronger to keep your brain healthy.
What other things can enhance brain health? Do share with us!