In recent times, memory issues have become more and more frequent. Mild Cognitive Impairment is becoming a common thing. Why is this happening? What has changed in recent times that is so drastically affecting our brains? How can we fix it?
If you understand the brain, you know that the material which makes up brain tissue is predominantly fatty/lipid in nature. In order to maintain such tissue, the body must have the raw materials ready to rebuild it. After all, every cell goes through wear and tear. In recent times, however, we have gone on a “fat-free” craze. Assuming that fats are bad for us because that’s what we were being told based on theories that have not been proven.
So how do we turn this situation around and improve our memory?
Firstly, realize that dietary fats are good for you. Fats are required for a long list of very important functions in the body. Don’t worry about gaining weight, fats do not convert to body fat. Only carbohydrates can do that when they are converted into glucose, then into glycogen to fill up our muscles, and whatever is remaining gets stored as fat. This process is assisted by Insulin, a hormone that is anabolic in nature. Fats, have no impact on Insulin and do not cause the release of it in the process of them being metabolized, therefore, they do not cause fat gain. (Ever heard of a ketogenic diet?)
Brain Rejuvenating & Restoration tools
1. High Fat Diet
Start consuming foods like eggs, almonds, Brazil nuts, salmon, pure butter, ghee, olive oil, and most importantly, Avocado. Why Avocado? Its 70% fat and is considered to be the most wholesome food next to a mother’s breast milk. It contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals and a large amount of potassium. Consuming at least one Avocado a day should be your goal while trying to improve memory. Consume a good amount of fats daily as well as cholesterol, and make sure to also get an adequate amount of fiber. A good source of fiber that is also good for the brain, would be apples.
It has been seen that exercise is highly effective in regenerating brain cells. For the longest time, it was believed that Neurons do not regrow, yet in recent studies, this has been disproved. Exercise induces a process known as “neurogenesis” – a process in which new neurons are formed. The best exercises for the brain would be Yoga, weight lifting and high-intensity interval training. Martial arts are also very effective and provide the added benefit of training the mind.
3. Brain-Boosting Herbs
These herbs improve the function of the brain and are known for relieving the symptoms of a wide range of neurological disorders including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, as well as minor complaints like difficulty concentrating, and mild memory loss. They nourish the brain and the entire central nervous system, which results in better functioning. Before doubting the benefits of these herbs, note that the research on these herbs are pretty outstanding and continues to prove the claims of their efficacy.
Withania Somnifera for example, also known as Ashwagandha, has been proven to improve cognitive function, attention, memory, and information processing speed (see study). It has also been effective in hormone regulation and has been seen to improve the symptoms of patients with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. One of the chemical constituents known as “Withanolide A” is able to induce neuritic regeneration and synaptic reconstruction, meaning it has the ability to reconstruct entire neuronal networks. Withania Somnifera is able to induce the process of neurogenesis via multiple mechanisms including the stimulation of the production of BDNF – Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor.
Bacopa Mennieri improves cognitive function and memory (see study) and may play a role in assisting the formation of Acetylcholine, increasing Serotonin levels, regulating Dopamine levels, reducing neuroinflammation and providing neuroprotective effects. Research has also proven that Bacopa can significantly improve the symptoms of ADHD and is very well tolerated (see study).
(Make sure to use these herbs under the guidance of an Ayurvedic doctor, as they can be dangerous if improperly used.)
The benefits of these medicinal plants should not be underestimated. In my experience, I have witnessed many patients have a complete turn around in mental disorders, memory loss, psychiatric conditions, and even nerve damage.
4. Massaging the brain
In Yogic science, a breathing exercise known as “kapal-bhati” or “Shining Skull” is practiced to improve brain function. This breathing exercise involves “Emphasized exhalation” while maintaining normal inhalation. What this does is, by constantly emphasizing the exhalation, the air constantly and rhythmically presses against the nasal cavity, soft palate, pharynx, and multiple other areas and organs directly below the mid-brain up to the frontal lobe. It is believed by some, that this exercise compresses the frontal lobe. After doing this exercise, people feel a sense of calmness and mental clarity. Improved circulation to the area can also be noticed by the immediate improvement and increase in color of the face, hence why its called “Shining Skull”.
5. Exercise The Brain/Mind
In order to train the mind to function more at an optimum level, it must be trained just like any other muscle. Metaphorically speaking, the mind really is a muscle. The easiest way to train the mind is to solve puzzles. Strategy games, puzzles, crosswords, Chess and other things that involve thinking, concentration, and/or strategy are very effective. The MOST effective way, however, is to practice and master the ability to focus. To do this, a Yogic exercise known as “trataka” is performed. Trataka is an eye/concentration exercise that involves candle gazing. I will discuss this exercise in detail in another article, as it is used for numerous conditions.
There are many other ways to nourish the brain, improve cognitive function and heal the damage done to the brain. The remedies mentioned above serve as an introduction to the various ways of accomplishing this task. Subscribe to my blog and follow me on here or twitter to receive the many other tips, tools, and tricks ill be sharing.
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
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by Dr. Nishal R.