Are you lost in a "brain fog?" Living on caffeine and adrenaline? Having too many "senior moments"? Here's a Top 10 list of simple steps that can help people improve the health and function of their grey matter—and improve focus and concentration, reduce stress, lift “brain fog,” and reduce anxiety.

Top Ten Brain Fitness Tips

1. Stop smoking.

Nicotine and the other toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke go straight to your brain just moments after you inhale. What’s more, cigarette smoking constricts the blood vessels that feed oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Worst of all, smoking raises your risk of stroke—a form of brain injury that is the third leading cause of permanent disability in the U.S.

2. Eat "brain food."

Your brain is hungry. Although it makes up just 3% of our body weight, your brain consumes 25% of your energy. Feed your brain high-quality protein (up to half a gram per pound of body weight per day), so it has the food to maintain and grow networks of healthy neurons (thinking cells). Other brain-friendly foods include oily fish like salmon, red bell peppers, spinach, turkey, blueberries, avocadoes, walnuts, green tea, and broccoli.

3. Cut back on the caffeine.

Artificial stimulants like caffeine, and depressants like alcohol, interfere with the brain’s normal bioelectrical cycles. “And too often, people use caffeine as a substitute for sleep,” says Gomez.

4. Avoid premature aging.

Caffeine isn’t the only thing that wears out your brain. Alcohol, exposure to toxic fumes, narcotics, lack of sleep, and even negative thinking cause brain cells to grow old before their time. “About 85,000 brain cells die naturally every day. Can you really afford to lose any more?

5. Go to bed at a decent hour.

Why is sleep so important? When you don’t get enough sleep, blood flow to your brain can drop by as much as one-quarter. So your brain cells get 25% less oxygen and nutrients. (No wonder you’re living on caffeine.)

6. Walk the dog.

Or hit the gym, go dancing, or ride your bike. Your brain is part of your body, and exercise is just as good for your brain as it is for the rest of you. Exercise to the point of perspiration at least three times a week. Aerobic exercise increases blood flow and oxygenates those hungry brain cells.

7. Keep playing.

The Alzheimer’s Association recommends mental challenges in the form of crossword puzzles, Soduko, strategy games like Risk and even jigsaw puzzles help build new neural connections and keep old connections more flexible and responsive.

8. Stay connected.

We're not sure why, but people who have with strong social bonds with family and friends have healthier brains. So don't allow yourself to get isolated. Get out of the house and interact with people.

9. De-stress.

Speaking of stress, it’s also a sworn enemy of healthy brain cells. Flooding your body with adrenaline and other stress-related biochemicals activates the "fight or flight" parts of your brain. Over time, that wears on your brain, your body and your endocrine system.

10. Train your brain.

Not surprisingly, as a biofeedback expert, I advocate biofeedback to help optimize your “mental hardware.” Biofeedback is drug-free, pain-free, clinically proven technique for reducing stress, improving sleep without Ambien, improving focus, concentration and memory, and treating the symptoms of ADD and ADHD, depression and a number of other complaints. A trained biofeedback therapist can help you learn to regulate your brain’s electrical activity...almost like tuning up your car so it performs at its best.

11. Take your vitamins.

If you’re not eating enough “brain foods,” you may want to try nutritional supplements to help bridge the gap. Studies indicate that Flax Oil, and Omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish like salmon) appear to be essential in building healthy neural pathways. And lecithin is a major component of the protective sheath that surrounds nerve cells. The family of B vitamins seems to be helpful in reducing the effects of stress on your body and brain.

If you hadn’t already noticed that this Top Ten list of brain fitness tips includes eleven items, that may be a sign that your brain is getting flabby. Since it’s the only brain you have, doesn't it make sense to take better care of it?

Author's Bio: 

Jason T. Gomez is Operations Manager and Client Care Specialist at BrainHarmony Biofeedback Center in Newport Beach, California. A profound spiritual epiphany during his youth inspired Jason Thomas Gomez to explore of the role of the brain in religious and spiritual experience. His studies eventually culminated in a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies with an emphasis in Neuro-theology.

About BrainHarmony Biofeedback Center
BrainHarmony is Orange County California’s exclusive provider of proprietary biofeedback services using Brain State Training™ technology. Biofeedback—a safe, natural and drug-free self-help and self improvement technique—is clinically proven to maximize focus and concentration, reduce stress, and improve clarity of thought and overall calmness.