The demands on our brains are probably more than ever in history. Each day we are constantly over stimulated. Life is governed by technology that is alerting us to do things and innovation is accelerating at such as fast pace that we are constantly learning to survive daily life. Pressure and expectations to achieve are higher than ever, so if we want to keep up with the rat race we need our brain to be working at its best.
Brain performance is mostly down to our brain cells, how they perform individually and how they work together to pass information around the brain. These cells are renewed and repaired on a daily basis and extra care is needed as we age as this repair process slows down.
So if you feel like you need a bit more brain power on a day-to-day basis, or for a busy time such as work deadlines or exams, here are a few tips to make sure your brain cells are in good working order and are performing at their best.
One of the most important things for mental performance is getting a good night’s sleep. Obviously if we have a bad night’s sleep it is hard to find the energy to do our best work. However, there are other factors that bad sleep affects. Many of the brain’s housekeeping tasks take place whilst we are sleeping. Our short term memory is sorted and important things are stored, whilst unnecessary information is removed so our memory is freed up for the next day. Also our brain cells are repaired during the non-REM phase of sleep and toxins and brain waste are removed so they do not cause damage. We also learn when we are sleeping, using new information to form new connections and conclusions. With all this in mind you can see just getting your 7-8 hours a night is going to maximise your brain health and performance.
As our bodies need food to function then so does our brain. One nutrient that is particularly important for brain repair and function is citicoline. It is naturally present in the body and created from choline found in foods such as meat, fish, seafood, brassica vegetables, peanuts, eggs and dairy products. Citicoline supports brain cell membrane repair, brain cell health and good communication between the cells. This supports mental clarity and fast thinking. Citicoline is also used as fuel to power the brain cells giving us mental energy and focus.
Coenzyme Q10 is a fat-soluble vitamin that is used to power the brain cells by feeding the little structures in the brain that are used for energy. These battery-like structures are called mitochondria and there are many in each cell providing our mental energy that allows us to think clearly and perform all our mental tasks.
Our brain is the first organ that starts to suffer if it does not get oxygen and without it we die. Oxygen is pumped round the body via the blood stream and we need a constant stream of oxygenated blood for all the hard work our brain has to do. So if we want to perform at our best exercise can help as it increases oxygen intake in the lungs and pumps it around the brain to refresh it. Not only this, exercise has been shown tohelp with the formation of neuronal connections that help brain development for linking cells and thinking.
Our final brain boosting tip is simply drinking water. You would think this is obvious, but many people don’t drink their requisite 8 glasses, which can lead to dehydration. Since a large part of our brain is made up of water, it is possible for the brain to get dehydrated too. When this occurs it can lead to foggy thinking and the accumulation of water soluble toxins that need to be flushed out, so that they do not damage our brain cells.
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Author: Jane Cronin, Naturopath and Medical Herbalist.
Jane is a qualified Naturopath and Medical Herbalist and is the senior product specialist with Clinicians.