Fun fact…the brain is the most complicated organ in our body. It contains 1.1 trillion cells and over 100 billion neurons! It’s also the most vulnerable to aging and damage. When we think of our overall health and wellness, we tend to focus on nutrition and exercise…but brain health is equally as important! Keeping your brain healthy can help you concentrate and have a better memory, process information better, and lead to less scattered thoughts (anyone else suffering from this??) 🙋🏼♀️ During our team retreat to Miraval Resort in Tucson in 2022, we learned a great deal about ways to create a happy, healthy, and lucid brain. Let’s dive into all the tips for combatting cognitive decline and keep scrolling for the somewhat controversial details on vitamin supplements!
You can read more about Team Busbee’s team retreat at Miraval and some of our favorite wellness takeaways, in this post.
Important Tips & 5 Best Vitamin Supplements for Brain Health
Your brain is always using the same amount of energy whether you are deep in thought, scrolling on social media, or fast asleep. It never rests..so we have to be kind to it! It grows and flourishes with use and withers with inactivity. Let’s start off with the things you can do each day to keep that big, beautiful brain of yours firing on all cylinders.
What are ANTS? Automatic, Negative, Thoughts. We all have them. These unsavory thoughts trickle in when we are stressed or struggling. They generate feelings of guilt, anxiety, sadness, and frustration…and even super debilitating thoughts like shame and unworthiness. You can’t stop these automatic thoughts from entering your brain. But you CAN notice them without judgment and then release them. Accept your negative thoughts for what they are, challenge them, and then replace those unhelpful thoughts with positive ones.
Moving your muscles creates proteins that travel through your bloodstream and back to your brain. This helps support higher thought processes and improves memory and learning. Research shows that even just moving for 10 minutes a day helps the brain. This could be walking or dancing while folding the laundry…anything! Even more movement and high or low-intensity exercise = even better!
Stay Mentally Active
In addition to moving your body, your brain needs activity too. This could be word or strategy games played on your phone, puzzles, reading, audiobooks, or podcasts. Since the brain loves novelty, learning new things that interest you will increase brain activity and stimulation.
Get Plenty Of Sleep
We’ve all heard SO many times, how important sleep is. And, it’s seriously essential for brain health. Quality sleep creates pathways in the brain that allow you to learn and create memories. We learned at Miraval that even a 30-minute increase in sleep each night can improve your work performance, productivity and creativity.
Meditation (Try It!)
Whether the idea of meditation is new to you or you’ve been practicing it for a while, it has so many positive advantages. It’s been shown to help improve memory, focus, processing, and emotional regulation. It also decreases stress which readies the brain to learn and retain. Chronic stress produces cortisol (the stress hormone) and decreases blood flow to the brain. As a team, we’ve been doing (almost) daily meditation practices from YouTube videos and we’re all really enjoying it! Its calming effect is nothing short of miraculous.
Have A Pro-Aging Attitude
Pay attention! What words are you using to describe yourself and how you think about aging? If you focus on the gifts that come with aging (more so than any negative aspects), you can actually improve brain function AND decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
There are many studies that connect nurturing and positive relationships with having a healthy brain. Physical touch with others increases oxytocin which helps you feel more relaxed, calm, and happy. Being social, talking with friends or family, and vulnerability are all aspects that can help you maintain positive relationships. This also might be a gentle reminder to ditch the relationships that don’t serve you!
Since the brain is 80% water, hydration is uber-important. When the brain detects even the slightest bit of dehydration, it releases cortisol (stress hormone) which restricts blood flow to the brain. This has negative impacts on focus, memory, and concentration. As if you needed ANY additional reasons to drink more water!
We all know good nutrition makes for a healthy body, but it also makes for a healthy brain. Fruits, veggies, fish high in omega-3s, and diets that include less sugar will help improve cognitive function. Even natural sugars increase inflammation and create erratic brain firing.
We want to start by telling we learned that there is no scientific evidence that supports the use of supplements to prevent, reverse, or stop cognitive decline or dementia. But, there are vitamins and minerals that DO make a difference in brain health AND can improve brain health. So, what if you’re allergic to fish, or just don’t enjoy veggies as much as you wish you could? Then what? When you are unable to get these vitamins naturally through your diet many turn to multivitamins and vitamin supplements. Whether you are on team supplements or not, these are the vitamins that are most recommended for a healthy brain.
NOTE: You should always consult your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet. Some don’t jive well with certain medications!
Omega 3 fatty acids are known for their positive health effects but let’s break those down. They may help treat depression and anxiety in addition to improving eye health and heart health. You can get these benefits from eating fish, chia, flax and hemp seeds, and/or you can go the supplement route.
Specifically, B6 and B12 are key to brain health. These are primarily found in animal products so if you are vegan or vegetarian, you may need a supplement. Our bodies don’t store B6, so this is an important nutrient to consume daily. It’s linked with improving mood, memory, and focus. Some research suggests taking B vitamins in the morning on an empty stomach is best.
Food richest in Vitamin E include leafy greens, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and vegetable oils. Some patients with Alzheimer’s have been found to have lower levels of vitamin E. So, it makes the list of those vitamins that make a significant difference in brain health.
Vitamin D has been linked to energy levels. A deficiency could lead to feeling tired all the time. Research suggests taking Vitamin D in the morning with healthy fats aids with absorption. It protects against cognitive decline and supports overall mental health.
While iron is known for supporting overall blood health, it’s essential for your brain too. Iron boosts your brain’s intellectual performance including memory and attention.
So, what’s your favorite way to keep your brain stimulated? If you have any tips we haven’t already shared please comment below! If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter where we share exclusive content and style resources too.