06 Oct 2022

Healthy Living: Brain-boosting tips – not just for back-to-school time

Healthy Living: Brain-boosting tips – not just for back-to-school time

Be aware that many of the breakfast foods advertised as ‘healthy options’ are rich in added sugar and processed carbohydrates Picture: Pexels

AFTER the summer holidays and more relaxed routines you might feel less able to concentrate, yet it’s one of the most stressful times for many families trying to get everything set for the start of a new school year. Research shows that one of the best ways to look after your brain is a great morning routine.
A healthy brain is your most valuable asset, so try these simple strategies to support it.

1. Prioritize sleep - Yes, that means your morning routine actually starts the night before. Sleep is the time when your brain not only rests, but cleans the house, and integrates new information. Avoid stimulants in the afternoon, blue light at night, and get to bed at least 10pm to get the most deep, restorative sleep.

2. Quiet time before the madness of the day – Experiment with a stress-relieving routine of only 10 minutes, such as prayer and meditation even before you get up.
Find something you look forward to doing every day, around the same time, since it’s repetitions of the same tasks in the same ways that teach the brain new habits.

3. Move! Physical exercise is one of the most impactful activities available when it comes to caring for your brain due to its circulatory and endorphin boosting effects. A recent study showed that just 20 minutes of aerobic exercise consistently every day is enough to help stave off premature brain aging – and morning time is the best not to upset your circadian rhythm.

4. Morning glory – The bright sunlight stops the release of melatonin in your brain and helps regulate your circadian rhythm, so try to do your morning routine of relaxation and exercise outside or by an open window in the first 30 minutes after you wake.

5. Morning cuppa - those who can tolerate consumption of coffee in moderation, it seems to be a solid addition to a daily brain health routine. Coffee consumption was associated with a 65% reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s later in life – but ensure you avoid all caffeine after 2pm, not to disturb quality sleep!

6. Brain-smart breakfast – Be aware that many of the breakfast foods advertised as “healthy options” are rich in added sugar and processed carbohydrates which makes them low in key nutrients your brain needs to thrive. Instead, “break the fast” on foods that are rich in protein, healthy fats, pre and probiotics to keep your blood sugar levels and mood under control, while providing your brain with the vital nutrients it needs. Think fish, eggs, vegetables, avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds and fermented foods.

7. Supplement – Several nutrients have been linked to improved brain function. Not surprisingly most are fats and fat-soluble vitamins, such as Omega 3 fish oil and Vitamin D3, and phytonutrients such as curcumin from turmeric. Probiotics, prebiotics and B complex vitamins that nourish the gut-brain axis have also promising evidence to enhance moods, reduce stress – which spells brain support to me.

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