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Your brain plays numerous important roles in your daily life. First, it ensures that your body is functioning efficiently. It also has a role on how you perform your day-to-day tasks. Remember, your behavior, emotions, memory and other cognitive functions are all linked to your brain’s health. This is the primary reason we must take good care of our mental health. This is not only for those who want to improve their focus and memory or those who are feeling depressed but for everyone.

With that, here is a list of ways to naturally boost our brain’s health.  

1. Eat the Right Kind of Foods

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As of today there are various products that can boost your brain's health. Some products can improve your concentration while others can uplift our mood and fight depression. For example, dark chocolate is known to improve brain function. But, for now, let us focus on the essential nutrients that are vital for your mental health. 

One of the most important foods for your brain is healthy fats. Remember, your brain is mostly composed of fats. As such, it functions more efficiently with a steady supply of healthy fats. In fact, shunning all kinds of fats can negatively affect your health. If you want to boost your brain’s health, it is highly recommended to include fatty fishes like mackerel and salmon in your diet. One reason is due to their omega-3 contents. If you prefer plant-based products. fats found in avocados, seeds, nuts, and olives are also good choices.

Aside from fats, we also need amino acids. Basically, amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are necessary for producing neurotransmitters. An example for this is tyrosine. This amino acid is vital for the production of dopamine and norepinephrine. These two neurotransmitters are evidently associated with our mood and mental alertness. Tyrosine is found in meat products, eggs, and legumes.

Vitamin B complex or the so-called “happy vitamins” are also valuable for our mental health. These vitamins have various brain benefits. For one, these vitamins have a role in the production of serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These are neurotransmitters that affects are mood and brain function. Vitamin B6, B9 and B12 are also linked in the prevention of cognitive decline.[4] The most common sources of vitamin B are eggs, organ meats, seafood, fermented soy products and green leafy vegetables. 

2. A Healthy Gut = A Healthy Mind

What is the connection between your gut and your brain? While these two are apart from each other, they can communicate with each other. Remember when you had an upset stomach because you’re feeling anxious or stressed? Yes, your brain can send signals to your gastrointestinal tract. But, this is not just a one way street. Your gut can also communicate with your brain.

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Aside from communicating with each other, your gut is also known as your “second brain.” This is mainly because it has millions of neurons in it. Furthermore, your gut is also capable of producing various neurotransmitters. Take serotonin as an example. Serotonin is one of the so-called “happy hormones.” About 95% of this neurotransmitter is actually produced in your gut.

The interesting part is that the “good” bacteria residing in your gut also has a role in your mental health. For example, these friendly microorganisms play a part in the production of serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). If you’re unfamiliar with GABA, it is the so-called “nature’s valium.” Thus, it can help you relax. At the same time, it also regulates your mood. This is one reason fermented foods, especially those that contain good bacteria, are in the list of foods that fight depression.[8]  

With that, consuming fermented products like cultured vegetables is one way to ensure a healthy gut. These products are not only good for your digestive system and mental health. They can also positively affect your overall health. 

3. Do Regular Aerobic Exercises

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It is without doubt that doing exercises will greatly benefit your body. While the typical conception is that exercises will improve your physique, it also does wonders to your brain’s health. So, what are the brain benefits of aerobic exercises?

Aerobic exercises trigger the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Basically, BDNF has a lot of functions. To be specific, it stimulates neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells), synaptogenesis (growth of synapses) and synaptic plasticity (the ability of our synapses to weaken or strengthen). All these functions significantly affect your capacity to learn and build memories.[5]

Aerobic exercises also increase your blood flow. When there’s an increased in blood flow, sufficient amount of oxygen reaches your brain. When your brain gets enough oxygen, it positively affects your ability to focus and remember information.

Of course, let us not forget the euphoric feeling we feel after exercising. It is a widely known fact that exercise makes us happy. Mainly because, we produce several mood-elevating brain chemicals like endorphins and serotonin when exercising. 

If you think jogging, walking or swimming is not for you, there’s a fun option you can take. Dancing is also a highly recommended activity to boost your brain’s health. Basically, it's an aerobic exercise. The plus side is that it allows you to socialize and build relationships with other people. 

4. Get enough Sleep

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With today’s hectic schedule, we often disregard the value of sleep. As much as possible we try to finish a lot of things that we sacrifice our time for sleep. But, did you know that you can function more efficiently when you get a good quality sleep?

Basically, there are several things that happen to your body when we sleep. As you know, your brain remains active while you sleep. During these hours, your brain is clearing out toxins. Yes, your brain has a maintenance system known as the “glymphatic system.” While we lay unconscious on our beds, there’s an increase flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This washes away the toxins that have built up during our waking hours. What’s the major benefit of this process? Studies have shown that this may lower our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.[3]

Sleep deprivation can impact your mental function in a negative way. Most of us have experienced lack of sleep at some point in our lives. As you know, lack of sleep will not only affect our moods. Our ability to gain and process information is also compromised. This is another importance of having a good quality sleep. Remember, sleep will not only consolidate our memories,[9] but refresh our minds as well. 

5. Meditate

Before, meditation was typically used to find inner peace. Nowadays, studies have shown that meditation has several health benefits. But, for now, let us focus on the brain benefits of meditation.

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Meditation can improve our concentration. As you know, when we meditate, we focus our attention on our breathing, a certain phrase, or sensation. With continuous practice, we are able to block distractions. This can tame the so-called “monkey mind.” It is a term to describe our tendency to drift from one topic to another. Once we’ve learned to block distractions, we are able to focus on something more important.

One study showed that mindfulness meditation can change your brain. The study found that longtime meditators have more grey matter in brain regions that are essential for mental flexibility, attention and emotions. Typically, an increase in grey matter signifies an efficient brain. For meditators, this increase in grey matter positively affects their emotions, attention, and cognitive functions.[2]

Meditation can also improve your sleep quality. As I’ve mentioned above, sleep is crucial for proper brain function. So, if you’re having a hard time falling asleep, you can use meditation to relax your mind. You will not only get the benefits of sleep. You can also gain the brain benefits of meditation. 

6. Music and Your Brain

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Music has always been a part of our lives. Although we listen to different genre of music, we all get the same benefits from listening to music. One of these benefits is stress relief. How is this related to your brain’s health? Basically, stress is the number one enemy of your body, which negatively affects your health including your mental health.

Stress relief is not the only benefit of listening to music. It can also improve your mood, concentration, and creativity. Most of you have probably experienced an improvement in your mood after listening to an upbeat song. One reason because listening to music can trigger dopamine production. As I’ve mentioned above, this neurotransmitter can uplift your spirits and energy. 

If you want to get the long-term brain benefits of music, you can learn to play a musical instrument. As you know, learning to play a musical instrument is not an easy task. But, it can offer long-lasting benefits for your brain. One study showed that learning to play a musical instrument can improve one’s cognitive skills, verbal fluency and processing speed.[1]

Learning to play a musical instrument is also beneficial for seniors. This can actually be a good brain exercise for seniors. Like other mental exercises, it will help boost your brain’s health and cognitive functions. This is because playing a musical instrument can stimulate several areas of your brain. 

7. Learn Something New

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Learning is an ongoing process in life. Each time we encounter new information and experiences, it benefits our brains in various ways.

One example is learning a foreign language. Studies have shown that learning a foreign language may slow down cognitive decline.[6][7] If you’re looking for an excellent brain workout, taking foreign language lessons is highly recommended because speaking two or more languages activates different mental functions.

The brain benefits of learning are not only limited to language and music lessons. Anything that is challenging and unfamiliar to your brain is good. 

If you’re familiar with the term "neuroplasticity," it is your brain’s capability to grow and change throughout your life. This simply means that even though you’re old, your brain can still develop. Learning a new skill or gaining new information can change your brain in a positive way. So, don’t stop learning. This can happen in various ways. It can be a fun activity like learning to cook or exploring the world around you. 

Final Thoughts

Natural Ways to Boost Brain Health

There are other things you can do to boost your brain’s health like doing mental exercises. Although the efficacy of brain training games is fifty-fifty, solving these games can still be a good workout for your brain. As long as it is challenging or it’s something new for you, it will give some benefits.

Aside from brain exercises, don’t forget to laugh with your friends and family. Laughing is actually good for your mental health, as well as socialization. Remember, when you converse with other people, you may gain new information. At the same time, your brain is also stimulated.  

As we age, we start to forget things. Some of you may think that cognitive decline is an inevitable part of the aging process. However, this is not always the case. There are many senior citizens that can function efficiently in today’s society. In fact, several studies have shown that we can definitely keep our minds sharp even when we get old. But, as I’ve mentioned above, there are various reasons to take good care of your brain. This is not only for tomorrow’s sake, but also for your current state of mind.

With that, if you want to know more about taking care of your mental health, the video below may shed more information. 

What can You do to Keep Your Brain Healthy?

Brain Games® #1: Lower Your Brain Age in Minutes a Day
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Solving brain games is a good way to challenge your minds when you're bored. As long as it challenges you, you will get some brain benefits from it.