Boost Your Brainpower

by Amanda Lanum 

I'm one of those people with a terrible memory. I'm just not good at remembering names, events, or some details that seem so easy for others to pull right out of their memory banks. It may seem a silly thing for a 20-something to worry about, but I'm constantly checking articles and medical news that give tips to strengthen the mind.

Here are some techniques outlined by Dr. Molly Wagster of the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, MD.

  • Eat berries -- Blueberries can rejuvenate the brain. Cranberries and strawberries also have a beneficial effect on brainpower.
  • Exercise -- aerobic exercise can help improve brain function. Exercise also prompts the release of endorphins thought to fend off depression.
  • Reduce stress -- Stress releases cortisol, a hormone that can damage the brain's memory center. Meditation, relaxation and keeping a positive mental outlook will help you reduce stress.
  • Eat foods rich with vitamin E -- Vitamin E, found in oils, green leafy vegetables and whole grains, is a vital brain protector. It promotes mental alertness.
  • Use your opposite hand -- Most of us rely on our dominant hand to do simple tasks. Using your opposite hand for brushing your teeth, eating or working a computer mouse will engage both lobes of the brain and improve hand-brain co-ordination.
  • Challenge your brain -- Discard the calculator and do the math in your head.
  • Get plenty of sleep -- Sleep-deprived subjects score 30 percent lower on memory tests. Most people need 8 to 8.5 hours of sleep each night.
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