You can reclaim your mental stamina, concentration, and memory at any age—you just need to be consistent and intentional!
Here are 5 must do’s for optimal brain health that you should focus on daily to protect your brain’s longevity:
As with everything, exercise is a very personal thing. What works for your body may not work for someone else’s. But research does show that consistent exercise that increases your heart rate does protect your brain and even build new connections to improve focus, memory, learning, and more.
Resistance training and more gentle exercises (like yoga and tai chi) also show promising results in research to improve your cognitive functions, which is great news for all of us in perimenopause and menopause! The things you’re doing to support your muscle and bone health (without over-taxing your already stressed hormone levels) will also improve your brain function.
Whole-body exercise is great for your brain—but like any “muscle” or system, working your brain specifically is essential to keeping it healthy.
Brain exercises, puzzles, reading books, and improving mental sharpness all have been proven to boost memory, concentration, and focus at any age!
Some fun research has been done to back this up, finding things like:
Focus on stabilizing blood sugar (so your brain has what it needs all day and doesn’t send cravings signals to your body for sugar).
These “cravings” often feel like hunger, but really they’re just mixed-up signals coming from your brain due to stress, insulin resistance, or blood sugar instability. You can do this by spacing out your meals and focusing on protein and healthy fats to keep your body satisfied and keep things stable between mealtimes.
Antioxidants protect and heal damage in your cells, and they’re especially important for your brain. Since your brain goes through so much energy, it also generates a lot of waste. This needs to go somewhere so it doesn’t clog up your neural connections and slow your thinking, memory, concentration, and energy levels. Antioxidants work as little “vacuum cleaners” to help clear out this oxidative stress so your cells can work as efficiently as possible!
And finally, healthy fats restore neurotransmitter connections so you can build and recall memories and stay sharp and focused. Each brain cell has a sheath of fat that protects it and helps it connect with its surrounding cells. As this degrades (whether due to age or stress), we need to supply the building blocks for our bodies to replenish these cells.
Some brain-boosting favorites are:
The health of your brain is directly linked to the health of your gut, and intermittent fasting (or the Fasting Mimicking Diet at the DripBar) may be the answer to clear your mind and give you the energy you are missing!
Constant inflammation in your gut also leads to inflammation in other areas of your body, especially the brain. Allowing your body to fully process the food that you eat is an important step in regaining your mental clarity and energy by cutting down on how inflamed your gut is.
Intermittent fasting can help to prevent cognitive degeneration by keeping your neurons firing correctly. (10) It also is great for many women to help stabilize blood sugar levels all day since frequent eating causes spikes and dips that your brain just doesn’t respond well to.
Last but not least, supplements are a critical piece of maintaining the health and sharpness of your brain.
Like every system in your body, your brain relies on many key nutrients to function at its best. Micronutrient sufficiency is dependant on the balance between what you take in through nutrient dense foods vs what depletes your micronutrients eg stress, medication, poor diet, toxin exposure etc.
Your body’s needs are ever changing, and eating a whole foods plant based high fibre nutrient dense diet including the rainbow of foods is the best way to meet those needs quickly and easily every day.
Here are some of the go-to recommendations of supplements you might need to use occasionally to improve brain function and to protect your brain from the damage caused by stress or age:
Vitamin B deficiency is super common for women in our age bracket. It’s just hard to get all you need through diet alone. An activated B complex vitamin is the perfect way to fill in the gap to give your body the support it needs.
B vitamins are necessary for producing energy within your cells, as well as maintaining the health of your brain cells in particular. They also play a crucial role in breaking down homocysteine, which is a compound that has been linked to an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Activated B Complete is formulated with only the best, purest B vitamins that are activated (or methylated) for easy absorption.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Your brain and nervous system need healthy fats to function at their best. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are a good, natural way to support your body’s ability to protect your brain, form healthy balances of neurotransmitters, and restore balance to your stress hormones. They help keep down inflammation and prevent damage to your cells, which is so often behind feelings of brain fog.
With Vitamin D receptors in every cell of your body including your brain cells, making sure you have enough vitamin D should be a priority. Having enough vitamin D protects your brain cells from developing plaque and damage that can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s, and it ensures they run efficiently so you can maintain your highest level of focus and clarity.
Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that helps to increase serotonin levels, which can improve your overall mood and may improve your reasoning skills as well. It can enhance energy metabolism and increase the capacity of your mitochondria to produce energy-rich compounds in the brain, as well as in the rest of your body. It can also protect you against physical and mental stress, fatigue, toxins, and more.
Curcumin. Unlike other supplements, curcumin provides almost immediate memory-boosting benefits. A study found that Alzheimer’s patients experienced a boost in memory and retention in as little as an hour after taking curcumin, in addition to improved mood and stress levels.
While you can get some curcumin from dietary consumption of turmeric, a supplement is the most efficient way to get the results. Just be sure your chosen supplement has no artificial fillers or additives that take away from its purity!
These powerhouse ingredients work together to energize your brain, improve your memory and ability to think and address some of the root causes behind your brain fog. They include:
And those are the 5 must do’s for optimal brain health.
By Chantal Du Chenne, Functional Medicine and Lifestyle Practitioner , Founder of the DripBar and owner of a Kombucha brewery.
Chantal is a B.Sc.Hons allied health with an international certification in Functional & Lifestyle Medicine. Chantal is a passionate Gut Health advocate, specialising in the management of inflammatory conditions associated with leaky gut and dysbiosis (imbalance) of the gut microbiome. These include but are not limited to anxiety, depression, auto-immune conditions, cancer, type 2 diabetes etc.
Over her 25 year career, Chantal has held various positions within the health and wellness industry – including 10 years as the Executive Head of Vodacom’s corporate wellness & mobile health programs. Chantal is the owner/ founder of the DripBar which offers vitamin and mineral drip therapy in improving micronutrient deficiencies. She is also the founder/owner of a Kombucha brewery which produces the brand of ‘booch’ called theFarmacy.
Chantal is a competitive cyclist, a plant strong vegan and mom to two grown up girls.
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This blog post contains information that is not designed to take the place of,
substitute, or replace any form and method of professional or medical advice
and treatment or medicine. All content is the author’s opinion and is not
intended to diagnose and remedy. The facts and figures contained in this
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