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Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills


There are plenty of good reasons to be physically active. Big ones include reducing the odds of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Maybe you want to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, prevent depression, or just look better. Here’s another one, which especially applies to those of us (including me) experiencing the brain fog that comes with age: exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.

Aerobic exercises can help a particular region of the brain called the hippocampus, which is critical for memory and other brain functions. They may also prevent ageing-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, the researcher noted.

“When you exercise, you produce a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which may help to prevent age-related decline by reducing the deterioration of the brain,” said Joseph Firth, a researcher at the Western Sydney University in Australia. For the study, the researchers reviewed 14 clinical trials that examined the brain scans of 737 people before and after performing aerobic exercises.

All the participants were between the age of 24 to 76 years and included a mix of healthy adults with mild cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s and even those with clinical diagnosis of mental illness including depression and schizophrenia. The results showed that while exercise had no effect on total hippocampal volume, it did significantly increase the size of the left region of the hippocampus in humans.

Besides exercising, there are also certain foods that can improve your memory and promote brain health.

1. Foods rich in Vitamin C: While Vitamin C has long been associated with mental agility. Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges are great sources of Vitamin C along with vegetables such as broccoli and even bell peppers.

2. Nuts and seeds: Pumpkin seeds are loaded with zinc that play a great role in sharpening your memory. Brain-shaped walnuts are a good source of omega-3 and other essential nutrients crucial for brain functioning and memory skills. Many other nuts and seeds are good sources of Vitamin E which is crucial in giving your brainpower a significant boost.

3. Berries: Berries are great superfoods. They are packed with antioxidants that fight disease causing free radicals in the body. Berries including blueberries and strawberries, when consumed regularly can help delay age-related memory decline.

4. Green Vegetables: Like sunflower seeds, green vegetables such as spinach, kale and mustard greens are all packed with Vitamin E which is really important for cell development. They are also rich in Vitamin K which is known to be help cognitive enhancement and increases mental alertness.

5. Tomatoes: These are a good source of lycopene which act against brain cells degeneration and aid in the maintenance and production of new brain cells.

You are what you eat. Just like your body, your brain also requires nutrition to function effectively.

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