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Three easy ways to boost brain power


Three easy ways to boost brain power

You can help yourself to stay mentally alert and reduce the risk of dementia. KENDALL MORETON suggests three easy lifestyle changes that will do your brain a favour.

Tip 1 – Take short afternoon naps a few times a week.

The science is in. Afternoon naps are good for you. A study of 2215 healthy older people in China found two-thirds of the group napped after lunch. All participants were tested on various mental skills including memory, naming, attention, and calculation. The results showed that those who took naps had better results.

The frequency and length of napping matters too. Those who had short naps, up to 30 minutes and only napped four times a week, had the best scores on the cognitive tests.

The study also showed participants who scheduled their naps had higher scores than those who nodded off when tired. Set a timer for 30 minutes and take that short effective nap today.

Tip 2 – Vary your activities.

Try new board games, new hobbies and new places. There is a concept known as cognitive reserve. This is your ability to use alternative methods to solve a problem. Engaging in new tasks builds neuroplasticity and cognitive reserve.

If you are good at crosswords and that’s the only brain challenge you have, this will not stimulate new neural connections in the same way that a novel task will. Think of it like an exercise program where you only do bicep curls. This will not help legs.

Perhaps you could have a go at drawing, playing a video game with a teenager or learning a poem by heart.

Do you remember the Polaroid camera? Well, there are now a few retro-style cameras on the market, some less than $100. Why not couple this with some Sunday drives and a scrap book for a new hobby.

Tip 3 – Watch what you eat.

In a 2008 research review (Mark W. J. Strachan and co-authors from the Metabolic Unit, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK) found that people with type 2 diabetes have a 1.5 to 2 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Your risk level for vascular dementia is two to three times higher if you have type 2 diabetes.

Starchy foods like chips and biscuits convert to sugar. Snacks with protein and healthy fats will fill you up more than sweet and starchy snacks. Prepare ahead of time, with cheese sticks or boiled eggs. Stock up on avocadoes and nuts.

Nuts are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. Walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts all come in as brain favourites.

A University of California study (UCLA 2015) found eating walnuts was associated with improved cognition scores. Walnuts are high in the healthy 3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Almonds and hazelnuts are high in vitamin E which is rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants can combat the oxidative stress our brains encounter.

One study compared the memory and verbal skills of participants who took vitamin E with those who took a placebo. Those who took the Vitamin E had statistically significant higher results for memory and verbal skills (Brain HQ).

A handful of almonds will provide you with half of the daily recommended Vitamin E and 20 hazelnuts will give you about 20 per cent of your daily Vitamin E. Avocadoes, pine nuts and Atlantic salmon are also good sources of this vitamin.

Kendall Morton is Director of Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast to Wide Bay. Call 5491 6888 or email

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