The most complex, intriguing, and arguably fascinating organ in our body is the brain. As a human race, we have come a long way in our understanding of how the brain works, but there is still much to learn. A fact that may just blow your mind is that scientists have found that there are approximately 86 billion neurons in the human brain! What are neurons? Well, in simple terms, the main function of neurons is that they’re information messengers. They send out information around the brain, spine, and body both electrically and chemically.
Perhaps one of the most amazing aspects about our brain is that they’re highly adaptable and capable of great change through neuroplasticity. This literally means you can re-wire the way you think, act, and feel with practice and giving the brain what it needs! The brain’s neuroplasticity allows it to recognize pathways, create connections, and sometimes even create new neurons.
Our brain and neurons enable us to live out our lives, from allowing us to have thoughts, make decisions, store memories, control emotions, allow for movement, and even keeps us breathing automatically! It’s easy to see just how important this essential organ is and that we should do what we can to keep it functioning at its best. Whether you’re looking to have better focus, feel happier, or improve your memory we’re going to cover 5 of the best brain-boosting hacks for feeling better all around! If you’re interested to dive deeper, keep on reading.
It comes as no surprise that one of the top brain-boosting hacks is exercising. Have you noticed the way you feel after a good sweat session? Physical activity not only positively impacts the health of our brain (which we will go into more detail about) but it also manages our weight, reduces the risk of disease, strengthens bones and muscles, and keeps the body in shape. When it comes to brain health in particular, one of the ways that exercise is beneficial is that it increases blood flow to the brain. Adequate blood flow for the brain is vital because it allows it to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function. Although most forms of exercise assist with blood flow some of the best are hot yoga and being in a sauna since thermal stress allows for better blood flow to the brain. A study from over 10 years ago even found that aerobic exercises such as biking, running, or swimming can enhance the expression of neuroplasticity biomarkers!
Consuming healthy fats
This may come as as surprise, but did you know that our brain is made up of nearly 60% fat? Healthy fats are super important for proper brain function, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fish oil supplements contain two kinds of fatty acids – EPA and DHA. These fatty acids are the core components of cellular structures like cell membranes. Researchers have found that despite the significant role Omega 3’s play in our brain health and even heart health, most people in the US aren’t getting enough of it in their diet. One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re getting enough Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet is through supplementation. This is especially helpful for picky eaters or those who don’t like fish because many of the supplements you can get are flavored or unflavored! Some other beneficial fats for brain health that you can incorporate into your diet include olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados!
Breathing is a completely free and powerful tool you can use to regulate your nervous system bringing your body and brain into a state of rest and digest. Without realizing it, so many people are unconscious of how they breathe throughout the day. Quick, shallow breaths can often lead to activating the sympathetic nervous system (the feeling of fight or flight). Deep breathing also supports neuroplasticity in the brain resulting in being able to change our brain and reinvent ourselves at any age or anytime! Some of the other ways that deep breathing benefits the body includes stress relief, regulating cortisol, lowering heart rate, lowering blood pressure, reducing pain, and reducing anxiety. Here are some different breathing techniques you can implement to hack your brain on the daily!
- Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit or lie down.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
- Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, allowing your diaphragm to expand and your abdomen to rise. Feel your hand on your abdomen move outward.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, letting go of tension and allowing your abdomen to fall. Your chest should stay relatively still.
- Continue this slow and controlled breathing pattern, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Focus on the rise and fall of your abdomen, and try to keep your chest movement minimal.
- Practice for a few minutes each day to improve your belly breathing technique and promote relaxation.
- Find a quiet place to sit or stand comfortably.
- Close your eyes and take a moment to relax.
- Inhale through your nose for a count of four seconds, filling your lungs completely.
- Hold your breath for a count of four seconds, keeping your lungs and body still.
- Exhale slowly and completely through your mouth for a count of four seconds.
- Pause and keep your breath out for another count of four seconds.
- Repeat this cycle for several minutes, maintaining a calm and steady rhythm.
- Focus on the even timing of each breath cycle, and try to clear your mind of distractions.
- Gradually, you can increase the count to five or six seconds for a more extended practice.
- Box breathing is an effective technique to reduce stress and anxiety, so use it whenever you need to relax or regain composure.
Keep a consistent sleep schedule
At this point, it’s a well-known fact that not getting enough sleep impacts cognitive function. Quite literally, during sleeping toxins are flushed out of the brain. Sleeping allows for the body to recover and restore, but so many people aren’t getting enough of it! One of the best ways you can start to improve your sleep routine is by keeping a consistent sleep schedule. It’s not beneficial for our brains and bodies when we go to bed at different times every single night and have a scattered sleep schedule. Our bodies crave routine and familiarity when it comes to winding down at night and preparing for sleep. By implementing a nighttime routine that you can stick to while going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday you will begin to notice positive effects in how your sleep schedule shifts.
Consider taking brain-supporting supplements
When it comes to our mind and body functioning at its best we certainly need adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients! With the busy lives we lead and the diets many of us tend to lean towards, we could be missing out on some potentially crucial vitamins that can make a big difference in how we feel and perform. For example, certain B vitamin deficiencies like Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 may result in neurological symptoms or conditions such as depression, dementia, and overall cognitive decline. Taking a full-spectrum B complex supplement will ensure that all your B vitamin levels are met! Other supplements that can make a difference in brain health, especially lowering inflammation and reducing anxiety are Turmeric, Magnesium, and even adaptogens such as Rhodiola or Ashwagandha!
Taking care of your vessel and brain doesn’t have to be overly complicated, and most of these hacks are just basic fundamentals of how human beings can operate to feel their best. It’s important to note that the brain is complex and powerful, therefore we shouldn’t take lightly even the unhealthy habits we participate in on a daily basis. By implementing these brain hacks and eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, drugs, and stress, our brains and bodies will begin to feel the difference!