Every 69 seconds someone in the U.S. is being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and the 5th among people over 65. There are no miracle drugs available yet to cure Alzheimer’s, but there are plenty of studies that say making some changes in your lifestyle could add years to your mental health.

I have come up with 10 different ways to help boost your brainpower, and have fun doing it.

1. Take a dance lesson. Dancing is a powerful brain activity. When you learn new dance moves it helps in at least three areas. You are getting exercise, which increases the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. It calms the brain’s stress response (stress is a big brain zapper), and it activates brain motor centers that form new neural connections.

2. Go outside your comfort zone.  Have you been sitting in front of the computer doing Mahjongg, or getting good at sudoku puzzles? It’s time to shake it up a bit. Try different brainteasers, learn to play a musical instrument or a new language. Once you’ve mastered a brainteaser it doesn’t form any more new connections. Try something that is opposite of what you would normally do. This would be “cross-training” your brain to use other parts of it, so those portions of the brain get exercised too.  There is truth to the saying, “Use it or lose it.”

3. Eat more walnuts. Walnuts (a super brain food), are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that have been found to improve mood and reduce inflammation that may lead to brain-cell death. They also replace lost melatonin, which is necessary for healthy brain functioning. Instead of putting croutons on your salad, replace those empty calories with brain healthy walnuts.

4. Take Fish Oil Supplements. Fish oil has been proven to be helpful in many areas of the body and brain. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to helping to lubricate joints. Since the market has been flooded with supplements that claim to be rich in Omega 3 you will need to be careful – not all are created equal.  Look for fish oil high in EPA and DHA content. The best is extracted from the Hoki fish, found in southern New Zealand. Even better – look for “molecularly distilled” fish oil supplements that have distilled all the toxins and contaminants like mercury and other metals, and is safe for human consumption.

5. Do volunteer work.  Become a tour guide at the local museum, build houses with Habitat for Humanity, read to children at the local library, etc. Social interaction is very important to boosting your brainpower. By staying socially active you are keeping your brain active, and creating new neuropathways. It also eases stress, which is a memory killer.

6. Learn meditation. Since stress is the biggest killer of brain cells, learning to distress is important for maintaining good brain health. Medication, yoga and relaxation therapy are all good ways to get your mind clear and unleash your ability think more clearly.

7. Take a look around you. Literally. Do an eye exercise, start by looking straight ahead and there, without moving your head, see if you can see make out what’s at the periphery. Do this regularly and you’ll stimulate the neural and spatial centers of the brain, which can wither away as you age.

8. Try different kinds of tea.  Green Tea is an excellent memory booster. There are others, like Tulsi tea, made of an Indian herb called holy basil, and ginseng tea, both contain herbs that can keep you alert and help reduce overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol, which can hamper memory.

9. Take a bike tour. Riding your bike is great for your health. It helps to circulate your blood, allows you to de-stress, and you get a great view of the countryside while you’re pedaling. Make sure to wear a helmet. Even one serious concussion could increase your risk of developing dementia.

10. Ask for help. If you are a caregiver for a family member you are under immense pressure and stress. You can’t do it alone. Chronic stress can shrink your brain’s memory center. If there are no family members to help, contact the local hospice for recommendations. You have to take some time for yourself. If you are too stressed out you can’t do any good for someone else.



About the author:

Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion