The brain is your body’s internal computer, regulating everything from routine vital functions to mood. The brain is an organ that ages just like anything else within our body. What can you do to help foster optimal cognitive health? Take a look at these tips.
Just Add Water
It turns out that water, the most abundant resource on the planet, is useful for cognitive health in more ways than one. First, drinking 6-8 glasses of water keeps your body hydrated, including within the brain which is composed of 85% water. A study examining the effects of dehydration in 13 adults showed a change in brain structure, temporarily shrinking white and gray matter volume which led to decreased cognitive performance.* Besides drinking water, immersing yourself in cold water can promote an alert and upbeat mood.* Researchers found that after exposing participants to cold water, positive wiring changes occurred in the areas of the brain associated with decision making and emotions.* Similar outcomes have been found in studies examining the effects of swimming, cold baths and cold showers on cognitive health.* Hot water immersion benefits the brain by improving circulation and blood flow, and may impart a calm feeling.* Even the sound of water such as from a fountain or rainstorm can be beneficial for brain relaxation.
Be Part of the Group
Human interaction is a key part of maintaining cognitive wellness, especially with advancing age. You don't have to be a socialite to reap the benefits. Minor interactions with someone you live with or people you come in contact with throughout the day can have an impact on brain health.* A study assessing brain health in elderly individuals found that those with greater social activity had better function within their brain’s gray matter.* Volunteering, talking on the phone, playing cards with a friend, all count toward social activity that can benefit mood and cognitive function. To reap brain benefits, consider a group exercise class. Exercise increases circulation and the group setting provides social interaction that is important for healthy brain aging.*
Spend Time in Nature
Shinrin-Yoku is the Japanese practice of “forest bathing.” Forest bathing is mindfully spending time in nature with the intention of relaxation. Sounds like wishful thinking? There’s scientific research that backs this up. One particular study found a link between spending 120 minutes in nature with enhanced wellness.* Spending time in the park, your own garden or hiking local trails is a simple way to get in touch with nature. Don’t underestimate what bringing a plant into your space can do for your wellbeing, as research shows having plants around us may help us produce more calming brain waves.*
Try Cognitive Health Supplements
The brain is an organ that requires tremendous nutritional support to function properly. Eating a balanced diet with fresh fruit and vegetables while minimizing alcohol and refined sugars will not only help your cognitive wellness but overall health. A multivitamin cannot replace a healthy diet, but it can complement your health goals by filling nutrient gaps. Recent research associated taking a multivitamin with potentially better cognitive health.* Nootropics are the latest buzzword in the health community. These are supplements that may have a benefit on cognitive and brain health because they are able to pass the blood-brain barrier.* Some of the more well known supplements to support brain health include l-theanine to promote focus and calm and 5-htp to support a positive mood. The B vitamins like those found in our multivitamins One Daily and Six Daily are indicated in nerve health which is important for healthy brain functioning. Amino acids are an emerging area of interest in the subject of brain health. Acetyl l-carnitine (an ingredient in our CoQ10 + Alpha Lipoic Acid + Acetyl L-Carnitine formula) and N-acetyl cysteine (found in our Super Thistle supplement) may promote the health of cell mitochondria as well as support nerve health. You can read more about these two nutrients in this article here, which breaks down their benefits in detail.
The brain is a dynamic organ that is affected by our environment and what we put into our bodies. Take care of your cognitive health by implementing some of these practices into your daily routine.
Doctrow, Ph.D., B. (2022, October 5). Daily multivitamin may improve cognition in older adults. National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/daily-multivitamin-may-improve-cognition-older-adults
MRI scans reveal changes in the brain’s wiring after Cold water shock. University of Portsmouth. (2023, February 7). https://www.port.ac.uk/news-events-and-blogs/news/mri-scans-reveal-changes-in-the-brains-wiring-after-cold-water-shock
Wittbrodt, M. T., Sawka, M. N., Mizelle, J. C., Wheaton, L. A., Millard-Stafford, M. L. (2018, August). Exercise-heat stress with and without water replacement alters brain structures and impairs visuomotor performance. Physiological reports. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30136401/
Buijze, G. A., Sierevelt, I. N., van der Heijden, B. C. J. M., Dijkgraaf, M. G., Frings-Dresen, M. H. W. (2016, September 15). The effect of cold showering on health and work: A randomized controlled trial. PloS one. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025014/
Morris, J. K., Geiger, P. C., Von Schulze, A. T., Deng, F. (2020, September 24). Heat therapy: possible benefits for cognitive function and the aging brain. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/pdf/10.1152/japplphysiol.00168.2020
Flatt, PhD, MPH, J. D., Rosso, PhD, MPH , A. L., Felix, MD, MPH, C., Rosano, MD, MPH, C., Zhu, PhD, X. (2021, July). Greater Social Engagement and Greater Gray Matter Microstructural Integrity in Brain Regions Relevant to D—---a. Academic.oup.com. https://academic.oup.com/psychsocgerontology/article/76/6/1027/5929310
White, M. P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J., Wheeler, B. W., Hartig, T., Warber, S. L., Bone, A., Depledge, M. H., Fleming, L. E. (2019, June 13). Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and Wellbeing. Nature News. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3
Han, K.-T., Ruan, L.-W., Liao, L.-S. (2022, June 17). Effects of indoor plants on human functions: A systematic review with Meta-analyses. International journal of environmental research and public health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9224521/