Four Ways to Improve Cognitive Function

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.  Since 1983, the number of people with Alzheimer’s has more than doubled according to the Alzheimer’s Association.  While there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are things you can do in your daily life to improve your cognitive function and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

  1. Eat a Healthy Breakfast – You might be rushing in the mornings, but skipping breakfast is bad for your brain.  Studies have linked breakfast to improved short-term memory and attention.  Students who eat breakfast perform better in school that those who don’t.  Start your day with a healthy protein-rich, low-sugar breakfast to give your brain a boost for the day.  Just be mindful of calories – a high-calorie breakfast may hinder concentration.

  2. Learn Something New – While crossword puzzles and online games are great, they will not necessarily boost your brain power.  They can help maintain brain strength.  But you actually have to learn something new to increase your brain power.  In one study, researchers asked older adults to try different activities, but only those who learned a new skill, such as quilting, showed significant improvement in cognitive function.  The brain is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets.  So, find a new hobby, pick up a new musical instrument, or try a new language and challenge your brain! 

  3. Take a Brain Power Nap – A nap is a great way to reboot your brain when it gets tired and the afternoon slump approaches.  Recharge your batteries for the rest of the day and improve your mood with just a 20-minute brain boosting snooze.  If you have even more time, a 60-90 minute nap can help make new connections in the brain and improve your creative problem solving skills.

  4. Eat Fish – According to research at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, people who eat fish once a week have a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  This is due to DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in large quantities in the brain and in cold water species of fish, like salmon, tuna, and cod. The study also found that a weekly seafood-based meal can slow cognitive decline by 10 percent each year.

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