So we were sitting there, when a report came on that spoke about increasing your brain functioning. Actually, I think it may have been some sort of marketing piece, as it was produced by Sutter Health; but hey, if it's good information, who cares if they hope to make a sale out of it, right? ;-) Anyhow, what I found most interesting is that their top 5 things to increase brain functioning are all things that Mindful Measures focuses on with our product line. Without tooting my horn any more than I have to (and you all know how much I like to toot my own horn) let's look at what they recommended:
- Use It or Lose It - Sutter Health recommends that we challenge our brains in order to keep them performing optimally. They suggest puzzles, brain-teasers, learning a new language or taking a class. As the strength comes from establishing new neuro-pathways and strengthening new ones, I would also add learning new habits to that list as well.
- Brain/Body Work-Out - They recommended exercising as a means of increasing blood-flow to the brain. 30 Minutes or more of aerobic exercise helps bring much needed oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
- Veg Out - Sutter Health points out that the brain needs a balanced diet in order to function optimally. They recommend increasing your vegetable intake, while decreasing the amount of animal protein you eat. I generally qualify this by stating that everyone's lifestyle and work requirements are different, so you should visit a qualified nutritionist to evaluate your particular dietary habits. But certainly eating more vegetables never hurt anyone (except perhaps that guy who choked on a baby carrot).
- Keep it Friendly - They pointed out that socially connected individuals are less likely to experience dementia as they get older. I would add to that, that it is our relationships with others that stimulate the emotional registrars in the mammalian part of the brain. The strategies that we employ to keep those around us happy incorporate the outer layers of the neocortex. But most importantly, by creating and nurturing healthy relationships with others, we experience more profound levels of joy and happiness which are required for optimized learning and brain functioning.
- Good Chemistry - Sutter Health actually placed this as their 4th item on their list. Whether that was an attempt to tame down the self-serving nature of their video, or whether it was considered as more important than good relationships, I do not know. Their point was that feeling depressed or regularly down is often an indication of a chemical imbalance. They recommend seeking help from a qualified professional. I would as well, though I am generally reluctant to recommend prescriptive drugs to counteract the imbalance (except in rare cases for short-term results). Our brains and bodies naturally produce the bio-chemicals that we need in order to feel good, assuming we are following the rest of this list.
So there you have it. Sutter Health and Mindful Measures have been suggesting the same tips for optimal brain functioning. That's two highly qualified sources, with no agenda to sell you anything ;-). If you would like to see the Sutter Health video in full, please visit https://mylifestages.org/sites/MyLifeStages/videos/video_brain.page