Mental sharpness, also known as mental acuity, is the combination of memory, learning and processing of new ideas, focus and concentration, understanding and analysis. The stronger these characteristics are, the more mentally sharp the person is. As we age, these factors begin to decline naturally. Environmental and lifestyle factors can also take their toll on brain health and can help further the decline of mental sharpness in the form of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. But how do we combat this natural decline in mental sharpness as we age?
Just as you exercise or work out to improve your muscle strength and endurance for better cardiovascular health, you can work out your brain to improve cognitive strength and brain health. Here are some ways to exercise your brain.
- Complete a jigsaw puzzle
- Play cards games such as solitaire, bridge, poker, hearts
- Build your vocabulary by looking up words you don’t know and trying to use that word at least 4 times over the next few days
- Learn a new skill such as how to use a new software, how to repair your car, etc.
- Teach a new skill to someone else, so that you it requires you to think through how to explain the concept and correct any mistakes you make
- Listen or play music
- Take a new route during daily tasks like going to work or school
- Learn a new language
In addition to the above, actual exercise has been shown to increase mental acuity as you age. It has been studied and shown that the chemicals released during physical activity maintain brain neurons and synapse health. Synapses are areas in which cells communicate and are what connect neurons in the brain to neurons in the rest of the body, and from those neurons to the muscles. When neurons and synapses are healthy, your body is at a lower risk of developing diseases related to brain health. Exercise not only helps with chemical health in the brain, it helps with learning new motor patterns. Weight training and complex compound movements support the development of these motor patterns by increasing the number of motor neurons we use to perform the movements. The greater the stimulation, the more our minds must grow and develop.
About 25-30% of our daily nutrition and calorie intake goes directly to maintaining neurological function. This number shouldn’t be taken lightly and is a serious concern when an individual is not providing the right type of fuel for the brain. A diet high in saturated fat and processed foods and low in essential nutrients and mineral for instance, can lead to anxiety, depression, fatigue, and even brain atrophy and brain disease. But the good news is that a good diet can combat the natural decline in the brain health. The following are areas in nutrition which you should work on increasing in your diet in order to support a healthy aging brain.
- Healthy fats – found in things such as salmon, mackerel cod, eggs, avocadoes, and non-hydrogenated oils
- Carotenoids and flavonoids – found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
- Iodine – found in table salt, Himalayan Sea salt, kelp, and most types of seafood
- Iron – found in nuts, fish, eggs, legumes, lean meat
- Protein – found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes
- Folate – found primarily in leafy greens
- B12 – found in lean beef, salmon, and eggs
- Vit D – found in eggs and fatty fish, as well as sunlight
By taking the necessary steps above, we are helping our brain grow stronger. However, even the healthiest diets and lifestyles can leave gaps in nutrition and micronutrients that improve overall health and mental sharpness. There are natural ways to increase brain health through supplements such as MemorySupport. This clinically proven herbal formula is designed to help prevent diseases such as dementia, declined cognition, and stroke by increasing blood flow to help heighten memory, concentration, and mental sharpness. It promotes a sounder sleep, which is another lifestyle factor than can improve mental sharpness as we age. It also helps deter toxin buildup in the brain to help overall brain health.
Mental sharpness is linked to many lifestyle factors including diet, exercise, and sleep. There are many ways to exercise the brain and provide your brain with the nutrients it needs to stay sharp but adding a supplement like MemorySupport can be the factor needed to improve brain performance and overall health.
- T., R., Y., Barreto, D. S., & P. (n.d.). Protective Effects of Physical Exercise in Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease: A Narrative Review. Retrieved from URL:https://synapse.koreamed.org/search.php?where=aview&id=10.3988/jcn.2015.11.3.212&code=0145JCN&vmode=FULL
- Mark Mayford, et al. “Synapses and Memory Storage.” Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. June 2012. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3367555/
- Penttila, N. (2019, August 26). What happens at the Synapse? Dana Foundation. Retrieved February 28, 2022, from https://www.dana.org/article/qa-neurotransmission-the-synapse/
Article Author: Courtney Conner MS, RD, LD