by Julia Scalise, DN, PhD
Do you feel overwhelmed? Does viewing or thinking about your “to do” list exhaust you before you even start? Are you struggling with keeping your concentration, focus and memory operating at their peak? This seems to be the norm of our current lives.
The world runs 24/7, but it is different from as little as a decade ago. Most of us are also trying to run 24/7, which is not advisable. I always stress the importance of adequate sleep, rest, and a break from work and chaos. Yet, like so many of you, I know that keeping up can be daunting. Aside from physical depletion, memory and concentration suffer based on what we choose to do or not.
To support your mental faculties and enhance your concentration and memory, I suggest the following tips.
The simple act of focused breathing is beneficial to enhancing the brain functions of memory and concentration. If you are not familiar with this practice, classes in Yoga or Mindful Breathing Techniques will have more benefit than you can imagine.
If you don’t have the desire, time or availability to go to class, consider viewing the videos or TedX talks from experts on www.youtube.com.
The benefits of mindful breathing techniques are:
- Calms the mind
- Reduces anxiety and worry
- Improves attention
- Removes brain fog
- Increases positivity, enthusiasm and energy
- Rejuvenates the body and mind
- Improves immune system function
You decide how long and how many days per week or times per day to practice. Benefits can be had from as little as 5 to 10 minutes per day.
Whether or not you decide to practice mindful breathing, consider the simple practice of walking.
Walking doesn’t require fancy equipment, a gym membership, or good weather or terrain. Your body doesn't know if it’s outdoors, on a treadmill, in a Mall, or around your dining table - it just knows that it is or isn’t walking.
Try to commit to 20-30 minutes of walking each morning. This practice can enhance brain function and mood through the rest of your day. I always feel much more alert and focused - and my memory works better - on days that I walk.
One of the reasons is that walking can actually increase the size of the hippocampus, which decreases in size as we age. The hippocampus is a small organ in the brain that is associated with memory and emotions. Aging and stress directly impact hippocampus size and function.
Memory is related to hippocampus size. Controlled studies prove that regular walking can increase the size of the hippocampus. Thus, walking can be a tool to further enhance memory. Try a consistent program of walking daily for a few weeks and assess your levels of improvement. Proof may keep you motivated.
I am a firm believer that nutritional intake plays one of the major roles in health and well-being. However, one person’s food is another’s poison in some cases.
I suggest all my clients be tested for food sensitivities at the appropriate time in their program. I tested in 2006 and have been roughly 90% compliant all these years later. When I or my clients aren’t compliant, health issues and “symptoms” reappear.
When one has food sensitivities, notable symptoms are brain fog and poor concentration. If you have not been tested, I suggest you work with a practitioner for testing and keep to an anti-inflammatory diet for your brain and overall health.
Additionally, crashing blood sugar fluctuations, which increase stress hormones, will impact memory and concentration. Consider keeping blood sugar as stable as possible for you, based on your health status, health issues, and medications.
Most of my clients do well with a nutritional intake of about 70% good protein, 15% healthy fats, and 15% carbohydrates. Some clients vary these percentages, but this ratio seems to work for most people. Work with your medical team when warranted.
Supplements are another way to help improve memory and concentration.
Multi-vitamins from whole food sources that contain the spectrum of vitamins A, C, E and D, are options when in proper amounts and formats for the individual. However, B complex (especially B12) is the most important for brain and nervous system health. Amounts and format matter for some people, but all of these vitamins have benefits.
Likewise, certain minerals enhance brain function when taken in beneficial amounts, proper balance and ratio. The most notable minerals are magnesium, selenium, calcium and zinc.
Omega 3 fatty acids from fish should be considered too, if not regularly part of one’s nutritional intake.
Herbal supplements that I use in my practice, based on client status, need, health issues and medications are:
- Ginkgo Biloba,
- Gotu Kola,
When necessary, I test clients for hormone, neurotransmitter, and amino acid levels, as these all play a part in optimum brain function.
There are some very easy ways to improve memory and concentration, even in a world of overwhelming and chaotic distractions.
If you are already working on a brain enhancement program and getting the results you desire, continue on. If you are a novice at this, or not getting the results you desire from what you currently do, consider some of these tips.
No one way or tool works for everyone 100% all the time. If you are not certain what to do, or how to begin, consider working with qualified practitioners that can guide you in your process.
Wishing you health, memory and concentration enhancement, and living your best life.
If your memory and focus are not as good as you would like, there are several easy ways that you can improve them.
- Simple Breathing Exercises
- Regular Walking
- Healthy Diet (healthy for you - you may want to consider testing for food sensitivities)
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