Let’s be honest, we all want to be smart as a whip, have photographic memory, do not have breakdown when accosted with difficult concepts and of course, age gracefully. And while sometimes, our abilities are governed by our genetics, other times, we can improve our cognitive skills ourselves!
Distinction between cognitive health impairment and disease
It is natural for people to forget things, misplacing things, losing track of thoughts. It’s very common in situations where our minds are preoccupied with so many things. Moreover, our brain cells do not rejuvenate and hence aging leads to decline in brain power as well. Thus, the bouts of forgetfulness become more often.
However, there are progressive brain disorders like Alzheimer’s that also can be responsible for cognitive problems. Other symptoms of Alzheimer’s include poor coordination, mood swings, depression, speech problems impaired judgment and spatial orientation, misplacing things and inability to trace steps.
In long term, these become worse. Hence, if you feel that your foggy memory is accompanied by other signs of Alzheimer’s, it is important to immediately schedule a visit with the best neurologist in Karachi for proper diagnosis, as these symptoms are not mere senior citizen moment.
Things you can do to improve your cognition
Very often the forgetfulness and becoming slow are not due to some brain disorder, but a natural decrease in cognitive prowess due to lifestyle habits. Following are some ways that you can reclaim your brain power!
Cognitive health, like our physical health, needs exercising to stay fit. When we keep our brain working, new neural pathways are fired and hence cognition improves. Brain exercises are also useful at improving focus, attention and memory.
They are not very hard to do either. On the contrary, brain exercises are quite fun. The vast variety also allows people to pick their favorite ones. Some brain exercises include jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, board games etc.
Moreover, digital age also has brought novel solutions. Many mobile applications are designed for improving critical thinking and problem-solving skills in people. These range from mathematical problems to memory challenges.
A study conducted in 2018 noted that brain training games are beneficial in increasing attention and motor skills. The fact that they are also entertaining is added bonus!
Go ahead at pulling the board games out because it is time to sharpen those brain skills!
Pay attention to what you eat:
Our brain is what we feed it. Thus, for improving cognition, it is very important for you to pay attention to what you eat. Nutrients especially important for brain include omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin-B and antioxidants.
Foods best for brain containing liberal amounts of these nutrients include green leafy vegetables, walnuts, flax seeds, fatty fish, berries, green tea etc.
Certain foods also have a negative impact on the brain health and cause cognitive declines. These include sugary drinks, alcohol, tuna, refined carbohydrates and trans fats. Similarly, processed foods are also dangerous for brain.
Aspartame, found in many artificial sweeteners, also leads to cognitive problems and endangers brain. Instead, opt for the plant-based sweeteners.
Meditation offers great benefit for cognitive and emotional health. It helps is de-stressing and also aids in improving the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Meditation is also great for improving focus and attention.
Furthermore, it also helps in slowing the process of aging in the brain. According to Forbes, people who meditate have greater grey matter volume than their counterparts. Such profound is the impact of meditation, that it leads to changes in the brain volume; the center responsible for stress and anxiety shrinks whereas the hippocampus, responsible for memory and learning, thickens.
Hence, take up mindfulness to improve and preserve your cognitive health.
Exercise is not just great for the body, but mind as well. It helps in improving the circulation to the brain and thereby improving functionality. Moreover, conditions like heart disease, diabetes and stress lead to impaired memory.
As exercise help prevent and moderate these conditions, it also then helps the mind.
Get sufficient sleep:
Busy as you may be, it is absolutely imperative for you to get sufficient shuteye. An adult need around 7-9 hours of sleep, and deprivation leads to short and long-term implications for the health in general and cognitive health in particular.
When we sleep, our memory is consolidated, and a lack of sleep therefore prevents effective storage of information. It also leads to problems with focus and concentration.
Therefore, prioritize your sleep. Follow good sleep practices like not eating or drinking caffeine before bedtime, not using digital devices in bed and following a proper sleep routine.
Some sleep disorders can also be causing sleepless nights. In that case, talk to the Best Neurologist in Islamabad for treatment as the repercussions of lack of adequate sleep are great.