Laura Williams

THE “use it or lose it” theory applies to your brain in exactly the same way as it does to your hamstrings and pecs. Here’s how to strengthen that muscle.

EAT RIGHT FOR YOUR BRAIN Your brain requires healthy fats to function properly. The body can’t produce these essential fats so your brain needs to get them from food sources. Good sources of healthy fats include salmon and nuts, avocados and seeds such as flaxseed. Watch your waistline though; as far as calories go, all fats are created equal.

WORK YOUR BODY TO WORK YOUR BRAIN Improve your mental agility with a good workout. A recent Cambridge University study found that mice which exercised performed better on memory tests. The mice also grew more new cells in a part of the brain linked to memory over their non-exercising counterparts. Increased oxygen levels from exercise will also help to make you feel more alert, while your feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine, will get a lift too – crucial as the evenings draw in.

PLAY BRAIN GAMES Puzzles like Sudoku go a long way to improving your mental performance – spending as little as fifteen minutes a day on challenging and teasing your brain can seriously improve your mental fitness, while “neurobics” will strengthen neural pathways. Examples of neurobic exercises include getting dressed or showering in the dark, putting your watch on the opposite wrist, or using your opposite hand to brush your teeth.

MASTER MEDITATION In a study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that meditation not only boosted immune system function, it also increased activity in the frontal part of the brain too. De-stressing and meditation are scientifically accepted ways to improve your memory – the daily practice of meditation thickens the parts of the brain’s cerebral cortex responsible for decision making, attention, and memory. Try a class or treat yourself to a CD to get yourself started.