How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Where are my keys? Where did I keep my credit card after shopping? Where is my passport?

Alas, such moments often visit our lives and signal to us the need for memory improvement techniques. However, we usually avoid these techniques thinking it is a matter of time or situation and it is because of stress or poor organization skills that things are not at their place.

That’s fine but what about keeping your mind sharper as you slowly age or what if you cannot remember the chapters you have learned for the examination and feel anxious? Well, you can make your present and future easier by incorporating natural ways to improve memory in your daily lifestyle including consuming healthy food and performing brain exercises. Whatever age you are right now, embrace the brainy gift with these little tweaks!

How To Improve Memory & Sharpen The Brain?

1. Include Antioxidants & Omega-3 Fatty Acids In Your Diet

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Your diet plays a very essential role in keeping a check on your body and brain health. It is great if you can include food rich in antioxidants like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts in your diet. Moreover, Omega-3 fatty acids are capable of slowing down the decline of cognitive skills in adults, improving memory and lowering the risk of heart diseases. Fishes, nuts and flax seeds possess Omega-3 fatty acids or else you can choose to add capsules on a daily basis.
Moreover, you must begin to cut down on refined carbs, inflammatory and sugar laden food for a long term memory. A research suggests that those who have higher intake of sugary food have less volume in the brain to store the information.

2. Avoid Consuming Information At Once

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

When you consume a lot of information in a single time, there are chances that you will forget a major chunk and the rest of the information is also scattered in different forms. For example, students who study a night before the examination tend to perform lesser than those who have studied in an organized and divided manner for the whole year. The similar pattern is followed by us in day to day life. If you want to improve your memory for a longer time period, divide your tasks and complete them before procrastinating.

3. Start Visualizing

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

One of the best improvement techniques include visualization of the information. Those who remember information using infographics, photos, charts or videos have better brain power than those who try to learn using conventional methods. For example, when you organize your tasks on a whiteboard or try to remember a lesson through a visualized story behind it, you can be sure of not forgetting it so soon.

4. Relate New With Old

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Let’s take an example. You have learned about the recent political shift in between the two countries. It is easy to simmer the information when you have an understanding of its history or you are already acquainted with the past information. Right? So, as you connect the new information with an old one, the chances of recalling it are more than anything else. This method is also capable in improving logical thinking and preparing the candidates for high level examinations.

5. Read Out Loud

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Imagine reading a material like you are teaching a class or reciting the information on a news channel. Research suggests that when you read out the information loud out, it helps in boosting the memory. If you haven’t tried this method yet, ask your family members to become the students or audience. This would also boost your confidence side by side. You can even help a friend in clearing their concepts while enriching your own memory.

6. Regular Exercise

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Although there are so many physical and mental benefits of exercise, it is indeed a highly effective way for improving memory. Regular exercises decrease the risk of memory loss in the future and improves cognitive performance. As per the research published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, those who run have better connections between brain activity, self-control and improved memory.

7. Proper Sleep

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

A good sleep is associated with memory consolidation that in turn helps in making long lasting memories. If you do not take enough sleep, your memory is impacted negatively and the chances of errors increase. Experts highly recommend that one must sleep 7 to 9 hours each night to have an improved memory and overall maintained health.

8. Practice Mindfulness

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Mindfulness is most effective when you want to improve your memory. It is because meditation helps in maintaining the awareness of the present situation, improving concentration and lowering stress. In fact, age related cognitive decline could be reduced by incorporating meditation. A research backed by 293 psychology students showed that those who went mindfulness techniques experienced better recognition memory performance than those who didn’t.

9. Reduce Alcohol Consumption

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Another memory improvement technique and probably most important is to reduce the consumption of alcohol. Too much alcohol negatively impacts the brainpower and memory. Moreover, repeated drinks can damage the hippocampus which is the part of the brain responsible for memory. It can also be noted that a few drinks occasionally may not be as negative as binge drinking.

10. Memory Sustained

These small tweaks mentioned above help in increasing your memory power for life. Everything could be managed in future but your brain health needs your help from now. Apart from the above natural ways to improve memory, you can make your exercises often with best brain training apps.

Have a healthy mind & healthy memory!

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One of the most important skills you want to develop is the ability to learn and remember what you learn. And as the world continues to evolve, your capacity to earn more is directly proportional to your ability to develop new skills and improve on existing ones.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. And you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes to make significant improvement.

So today, let’s dive straight into the seven natural and highly effective ways to improve your significantly memory.

While you are here, consider subscribing to After School Africa on Youtube to join 14000+ others watching great videos like this one below:

Watch: 25 Writing Skills You Need to Standout & Succeed in Any Field!

  • Challenge your brain

When was the last time you stretched your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games? To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

There are hundreds of brain training apps that are super-effective for challenging your brain like Peak , Lumosity and Elevate. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

  • Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds. Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no surprise then that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Fortunately, meditation can help you out. Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts. And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

  • Learn a new skill

Imagine you work for a fortune 500 tech company in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name. Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration. The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you.

You could decide to put up with the job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years. Or you decide to channel your dissatisfaction into learning a new skill. It may take you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

  • Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then it’s very likely you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected. If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Table of Contents

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

The loss of memory can occur due to a variety of reasons. Memory loss can happen due to stress, different diseases and even with old age. The loss of memory is quite common. While there are several clinical methods of dealing with memory loss, natural medicines and home remedies are considered to be the best treatments for the loss of memory.Natural home remedies can not only help to improve your memory but also enhance it. Also, home remedies are inexpensive, safe and effective methods.

Natural Home Remedies For Curing Memory Loss

The following points will tell you how to cure memory loss with remedies that can be done with ease and effect.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids For Memory Loss

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Omega 3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial in curing memory loss. These fatty acids help to enhance the efficiency of your memory, fuel your brain activity and also improve your sensory awareness. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in a variety of foods products such as nuts, flax seed, seafood and fish. If you include portions of these foods into your daily diet, then you are sure to notice an improvement in your mental faculties and an improvement in your memory function.

Rosemary For Memory Loss

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

With regard to how to cure memory loss with home remedies, rosemary is another important herb. It is commonly available and you can include rosemary into the foods that you cook. Another way to use rosemary is in potpourris, essential oils, perfumes and aromatic baths. Rosemary is effective in improving your brain function, concentration and memory.

Recommended Products

Gingko Biloba For Memory Loss

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Gingko biloba is an extract that is very good for treating the loss of memory. It is a very useful and popular natural medicine for curing memory loss. This medicine helps in enhancing the blood circulation to your brain and thus stimulates brain function and activity. It also contains antioxidants that help to fight against free radicals which contribute to memory loss. Gingko biloba is available at many places but you need to read the manufacturing label for dosage of the medicine that is required. Also Read How To Cure Memory Loss Foods That Cause Memory Loss

Vitamin Supplements

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Along with the natural home remedies for curing memory loss that are mentioned above there are also vitamin supplements that you can use for dealing with the loss of memory. With reference to how to cure memory loss, vitamin E and vitamin C supplements are extremely beneficial. These vitamins contain antioxidants that help to increase and improve brain activity which helps to improve your memory. These vitamin supplements also help to enhance cognitive function, reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s disease and also safeguard the brain from strokes and dementia. Hence you can begin on an intake of these supplements to cure memory loss.

Keep Your Mind Active

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Finally, one of the easiest methods of curing memory loss is to keep your mind active. You can do this by reading interesting things, solving puzzles, memorizing poems and music and so on.

Sleep And Exercise

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Sleep and sufficient exercise are also very important for helping to improve your brain function and deal with memory loss.

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AdLit.org is a national multimedia project offering information and resources to the parents and educators of struggling adolescent readers and writers. AdLit.org is an educational initiative of WETA, the flagship public television and radio station in the nation’s capital, and is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and by the Ann B. and Thomas L. Friedman Family Foundation.

By: Elaine K. McEwan

To improve students’ reading comprehension, teachers should introduce the seven cognitive strategies of effective readers: activating, inferring, monitoring-clarifying, questioning, searching-selecting, summarizing, and visualizing-organizing. This article includes definitions of the seven strategies and a lesson-plan template for teaching each one.

To assume that one can simply have students memorize and routinely execute a set of strategies is to misconceive the nature of strategic processing or executive control. Such rote applications of these procedures represents, in essence, a true oxymoron-non-strategic strategic processing.

— Alexander and Murphy (1998, p. 33)

If the struggling readers in your content classroom routinely miss the point when “reading” content text, consider teaching them one or more of the seven cognitive strategies of highly effective readers. Cognitive strategies are the mental processes used by skilled readers to extract and construct meaning from text and to create knowledge structures in long-term memory. When these strategies are directly taught to and modeled for struggling readers, their comprehension and retention improve.

Struggling students often mistakenly believe they are reading when they are actually engaged in what researchers call mindless reading (Schooler, Reichle, & Halpern, 2004), zoning out while staring at the printed page. The opposite of mindless reading is the processing of text by highly effective readers using cognitive strategies. These strategies are described in a fascinating qualitative study that asked expert readers to think aloud regarding what was happening in their minds while they were reading. The lengthy scripts recording these spoken thoughts (i.e., think-alouds) are called verbal protocols (Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995). These protocols were categorized and analyzed by researchers to answer specific questions, such as, What is the influence of prior knowledge on expert readers’ strategies as they determine the main idea of a text? (Afflerbach, 1990b).

The protocols provide accurate “snapshots” and even “videos” of the ever-changing mental landscape that expert readers construct during reading. Researchers have concluded that reading is “constructively responsive-that is, good readers are always changing their processing in response to the text they are reading” (Pressley & Afflerbach, 1995, p. 2). Instructional Aid 1.1 defines the seven cognitive strategies of highly effective readers, and Instructional Aid 1.2 provides a lesson plan template for teaching a cognitive strategy.

Instructional aids

Instructional Aid 1.1: Seven Strategies of Highly Effective Readers

Instructional Aid 1.2: A Lesson Template for Teaching Cognitive Strategies

Instructional Aid 1.3: A Lesson Template for Teaching Summarizing

Using easy-to-read content text, ask students to read with partners and create a summary together.

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

What qualities differentiate highly effective people?

Is it how they manage their day? Their way of thinking? How they approach problems?

In the best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey explains how habits set highly effective people apart.

Here are my 3 Takeaways, in the form of three of the seven habits:

If you ask me which of the 7 habits is the most important, my opinion would be this first one: be proactive.

To put these two simple words into consistent action would already generate a multitude of benefits that many people don’t realize or take advantage of.

We see this in others often — they use their “scarce” resources, “imperfect” upbringing, and “lack of” opportunity as excuses, and then play the victim the rest of their lives.

“I didn’t go to the right school”

“I wasn’t given that opportunity like he was”

“My parents made me this way”

On the other hand, to be proactive means to take initiative and to exercise control over our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Instead of automatically reacting to outside stimuli, people who are proactive think of the options available and choose how they would respond.

They question the status quo.

They don’t rely on others’ opinions or the external circumstance.

They adapt and evolve.

Imagine you are at a funeral. You think of the person who has passed and how he is remembered.

Was he always stressed?

Was he happy and content?

Did others become happy by being with him?

And then you stand up and walk over to look inside the coffin, only to see your face and realize this is your funeral.

Covey illustrates this story as a wake-up call to those of us who lack direction or purpose.

He says reality is first created in our minds. We need to imagine ourselves as our most fulfilled and happiest selves and align that vision with what we do daily.

It’s important to evaluate your situation and set goals. After, map out the regular activities or habits you should be devoting time and energy to in order to help you reach those goals.

This concept can also be applied to other more specific areas —

If you’re working on a project, what outcome are you working towards?

If you’re preparing for an interview, what impression would you like to leave with your interviewer?

If you are writing a blog post, what message are you trying to convey to the reader?

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln (unconfirmed)

To sharpen the saw is the 7th and last habit that Covey talks about.

In any industry, endeavor, or situation, it’s necessary for us to commit to continuous learning. Whether it’s reading books, listening to podcasts, taking up classes, or attending workshops, we should be devoted to improving our number one asset: ourselves.

Especially with the ever-increasing demands we face today, it’s only through self-improvement, self-renewal, or self-care can we become our most productive and effective selves. Covey also explains that to make learning a habit, we should focus on four key areas:

Emotional or social dimension

From the way they deal with obstacles to the manner that they approach accomplishing their goals, highly effective people certainly have distinguishing qualities. But more than what they do once in a while, it’s what they do consistently that counts. The good news is that these habits, whether it’s being proactive or continuously learning, are entirely replicable for those who are looking to be highly effective people themselves.

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You likely go to the gym to work your muscles, hike for endurance, and do yoga for flexibility—but how often does your brain get a workout?

If you don’t take care to exercise your brain regularly, it can wither, just like unworked muscles.

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The human brain is made up of nerve cells called neurons, connected by synapses, which transport information from one neuron to the other. Just like other muscles and organs, the brain changes with age—synapses fire more slowly, some cells die off, and the overall mass of the organ shrinks.

But studies have shown that any exercising of the brain may not only stave off brain degeneration but can also reverse memory loss and improve mental agility.

Here are some simple tips and tricks that can make your brain faster, sharper and smarter:

1. Try using mental models

Many of the most successful self-made billionaire entrepreneurs—Ray Dalio, Elon Musk, and Charlie Munger—all swear by mental models.

A mental model is a concept, framework, or worldview that you carry around in your mind to help you interpret the world and understand the relationship between things. For example, supply and demand is a mental model that helps you understand the economy. Entropy is a mental model that makes sense of disorder and decay. And game theory is a mental model that helps you understand how relationships and trust work.

The brain needs a variety of mental models to piece together a complete picture of the world. The more sources you have to draw upon, the clearer your thinking becomes. The best thinkers avoid looking at life through the lens of one subject or strategy.

Here are some useful mental models you can use to improve brain function:

  • Circle of competence. This mental model was developed by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger to describe limiting your financial investments in areas where you may have limited understanding or experience. More broadly, it recommends recognizing the limits of your knowledge to develop an edge over others. When ego drives your undertakings, you wind up with cognitive blind spots. But understanding your circle of competence improves decision-making and outcomes.
  • Occam’s razor. Attributed to the medieval philosopher William of Occam, this mental model holds that simple explanations are more likely to be true than complicated ones. Instead of wasting your time trying to disprove complex scenarios, you can make decisions more confidently by basing them on the explanation that has the fewest moving parts.

These are just a few of thousands of useful mental models. The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the number of models in our heads. The more models we have, the more likely we are to keep our brains sharp.

2. Play games

The brain can be lazy. Once it realizes it has mastered something, it stops trying.

But there are steps you can take to increase the range of mental motion by activating different parts of the brain. The trick is to constantly push your limits. Brainteasers and other problem-solving games are useful here. Here are some options:

    Sodoku. To complete a Sudoku puzzle you have to look ahead and follow trails of consequences—if you put a six in this box, that one must be an eight and this one a four, etc. This “planning” helps improve short-term memory and concentration.

You should also do mental math whenever possible. Instead of whipping out your calculator app, calculate the tip in your head or try to total up the amount for items purchased at the grocery store.

Research shows that variation in our mental activity is the key to long-term success. By regularly putting your brain to work, you can improve memory and other types of cognitive function.

3. Exercise, meditate, and diet

Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and mindfulness meditation all increase blood flow to the brain, which helps to enhance cognitive reserves.

In particular, research shows that regular aerobic exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Other studies show that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are bigger in people who exercise than in people who don’t.

Diet is also an important component of brain health.

A Mediterranean-style diet rich in fish, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, olives, and nuts helps maintain brain health and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon are rich in fatty acids that have been shown to help neuron function. And don’t forget to take your Omega 3—these fatty acids play an important role in brain function and development.

Finally, mindfulness meditation is great for keeping your brain sharp. A recent UCLA study found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Likewise, a Harvard study found that eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory.

Because nearly everything we do requires a sharp mind, these simple hacks are a no-brainer.

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

The foods we eat can have a big impact on the structure and health of our brains. Eating a brain-boosting diet can support both short- and long-term brain function.

The brain is an energy-intensive organ, using around 20 percent of the body’s calories , so it needs plenty of good fuel to maintain concentration throughout the day.

The brain also requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, help build and repair brain cells, and antioxidants reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

This article explores the scientific evidence behind 12 of the best brain foods.

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Share on Pinterest Oily fish contains omega-3 that can help boost brain health.

Oily fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help build membranes around each cell in the body, including the brain cells. They can, therefore, improve the structure of brain cells called neurons.

A 2017 study found that people with high levels of omega-3s had increased blood flow in the brain. The researchers also identified a connection between omega-3 levels and better cognition, or thinking abilities.

These results suggest that eating foods rich in omega-3s, such as oily fish, may boost brain function.

Examples of oily fish that contain high levels of omega-3s include:

  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • tuna
  • herring
  • sardines

People can also get omega-3s from soybeans, nuts, flaxseed, and other seeds.

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for healthy aging, visit our dedicated hub.

Dark chocolate contains cocoa, also known as cacao. Cacao contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant.

Antioxidants are especially important for brain health, as the brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which contributes to age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases.

Cacao flavonoids seem to be good for the brain. According to a 2013 review , they may encourage neuron and blood vessel growth in parts of the brain involved in memory and learning. They may also stimulate blood flow in the brain.

Some research also suggests that the flavonoid component of chocolate may reverse memory problems in snails. Scientists have yet to test this in humans.

However, a 2018 study in humans also supports the brain-boosting effects of dark chocolate. The researchers used imaging methods to look at activity in the brain after participants ate chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao.

The researchers concluded that eating this type of dark chocolate may improve brain plasticity, which is crucial for learning, and may also provide other brain-related benefits.

Like dark chocolate, many berries contain flavonoid antioxidants. Research suggests that these may make the berries good food for the brain.

Antioxidants help by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. The antioxidants in berries include anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, and quercetin.

A 2014 review notes that the antioxidant compounds in berries have many positive effects on the brain, including:

  • improving communication between brain cells
  • reducing inflammation throughout the body
  • increasing plasticity, which helps brain cells form new connections, boosting learning and memory
  • reducing or delaying age-related neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline

Antioxidant-rich berries that can boot brain health include:

  • strawberries
  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • blackcurrants
  • mulberries

Eating more nuts and seeds may be good for the brain, as these foods contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

A 2014 study found that a higher overall nut intake was linked to better brain function in older age.

Nuts and seeds are also rich sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.

As a person ages, their brain may be exposed to this form of oxidative stress, and vitamin E may therefore support brain health in older age.

A 2014 review found that vitamin E may also contribute to improved cognition and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The nuts and seeds with the highest amounts of vitamin E include:

  • sunflower seeds
  • almonds
  • hazelnuts

Fully exploring vitamin E’s effects on the brain will require further research.

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

The foods we eat can have a big impact on the structure and health of our brains. Eating a brain-boosting diet can support both short- and long-term brain function.

The brain is an energy-intensive organ, using around 20 percent of the body’s calories , so it needs plenty of good fuel to maintain concentration throughout the day.

The brain also requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, help build and repair brain cells, and antioxidants reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

This article explores the scientific evidence behind 12 of the best brain foods.

How to improve memory 7 natural (and highly effective) ways

Share on Pinterest Oily fish contains omega-3 that can help boost brain health.

Oily fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help build membranes around each cell in the body, including the brain cells. They can, therefore, improve the structure of brain cells called neurons.

A 2017 study found that people with high levels of omega-3s had increased blood flow in the brain. The researchers also identified a connection between omega-3 levels and better cognition, or thinking abilities.

These results suggest that eating foods rich in omega-3s, such as oily fish, may boost brain function.

Examples of oily fish that contain high levels of omega-3s include:

  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • tuna
  • herring
  • sardines

People can also get omega-3s from soybeans, nuts, flaxseed, and other seeds.

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for healthy aging, visit our dedicated hub.

Dark chocolate contains cocoa, also known as cacao. Cacao contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant.

Antioxidants are especially important for brain health, as the brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which contributes to age-related cognitive decline and brain diseases.

Cacao flavonoids seem to be good for the brain. According to a 2013 review , they may encourage neuron and blood vessel growth in parts of the brain involved in memory and learning. They may also stimulate blood flow in the brain.

Some research also suggests that the flavonoid component of chocolate may reverse memory problems in snails. Scientists have yet to test this in humans.

However, a 2018 study in humans also supports the brain-boosting effects of dark chocolate. The researchers used imaging methods to look at activity in the brain after participants ate chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao.

The researchers concluded that eating this type of dark chocolate may improve brain plasticity, which is crucial for learning, and may also provide other brain-related benefits.

Like dark chocolate, many berries contain flavonoid antioxidants. Research suggests that these may make the berries good food for the brain.

Antioxidants help by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. The antioxidants in berries include anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, and quercetin.

A 2014 review notes that the antioxidant compounds in berries have many positive effects on the brain, including:

  • improving communication between brain cells
  • reducing inflammation throughout the body
  • increasing plasticity, which helps brain cells form new connections, boosting learning and memory
  • reducing or delaying age-related neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline

Antioxidant-rich berries that can boot brain health include:

  • strawberries
  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • blackcurrants
  • mulberries

Eating more nuts and seeds may be good for the brain, as these foods contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

A 2014 study found that a higher overall nut intake was linked to better brain function in older age.

Nuts and seeds are also rich sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.

As a person ages, their brain may be exposed to this form of oxidative stress, and vitamin E may therefore support brain health in older age.

A 2014 review found that vitamin E may also contribute to improved cognition and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The nuts and seeds with the highest amounts of vitamin E include:

  • sunflower seeds
  • almonds
  • hazelnuts

Fully exploring vitamin E’s effects on the brain will require further research.

Maximize the benefit of CBT!

Posted Feb 14, 2014

THE BASICS

  • What Is Therapy?
  • Find a therapist near me

Research has proven that by identifying our distorted thoughts and beliefs, we can have better control over thoughts, thus better control over our feelings. Having distorted thoughts or beliefs doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with us. We all have distorted thoughts and beliefs at different times in our lives. Some examples of distorted thoughts:

OVER-GENERALIZING: At times, we may see things as all-or-nothing. For example, if one thing goes wrong with a project, we may think that the entire project is a failure. Or, if there is one thing that upsets us about a person, we may decide we don’t care for that person at all.

MIND READING: We assume that we know what someone is thinking. We may tell ourselves that someone thinks we are “stupid” or does not like us even though there is no evidence that supports this thought. This is called mind reading.

CATASTROPHIZING: We exaggerate how “awful” something is or imagine the worst possible outcome. Perhaps our boss wants to speak with us and we catastrophize that we are going to be fired. Or, it rains on one of the days of a vacation and we think “this is the worst thing that could have happened”.

FORTUNE TELLING: We think we know for sure what is going to happen. For example, we tell ourselves, “I know I am not going to get that promotion” or “I won’t be able to handle that assignment”.

In addition, specific behaviors or skills are taught including social skills, assertiveness, organizational skills, and relaxation techniques. These are taught during and between sessions.

Below, are seven pearls that I will share with you that I have found helpful over the years in my practice:

1. DISCUSS GOALS OF TREATMENT

During the initial assessment phase, it is important to collaborate on the goals of treatment. This helps keep the treatment focused and productive. Without goals, therapy can end up focusing on whatever problem is coming up that week and can interfere with progress of the original presenting problems. Sometimes, the patient may not be able to specifically describe a goal except a vague “I want to be less anxious” or “I want to feel happier”. This is fine at the beginning. However, over the first couple of months, you should return to this discussion about goals to see if they can be described in more specific terms.

For example, if someone presents with depression, the goals may include the following: Finding a more fulfilling job, returning to college, exercising three times a week, making two new friends, and stopping the use of marijuana.

2. START EACH SESSION WITH AN AGENDA

Every session should start with an agenda that is discussed collaboratively between the therapist and the patient. Again, this helps to keep the session focused and more effective. The agenda should include following up on homework from the previous session, a check-in about the mood and week, bridging or reviewing the topics and progress from the previous session, and topics related to discuss in the current session that is related to a specific goal.

3. DISCUSS WHERE TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE

Most therapy goals will have several components including distorted thoughts, beliefs or behaviors. Thus, during the session, collaboratively decide on which level to address the goals. If you are working on distorted thoughts, it is important to elicit what thoughts or images occur that are leading to the distress, such as anxiety, low mood, or blocking a certain behavior. If you are working on certain behaviors such as social skills or relationship issues, it is important to discuss when the skills will be used and how likely it is the skills will be used. Another useful technique for addressing behaviors is role playing and visualizing which helps to practice the skills and address any blocks or anxieties around the behavior.

4. USE FLASHCARDS

Flashcards can be used to remember the key points of the session or a mantra that may help with certain thoughts or feelings. If I am working with a patient who is struggling with depression, I will title the flashcard something like “Survival Kit” and it will include strategies to cope with the depression such as reaching out to a friend, getting out of the house, reaching out to me, or taking care of a small chore.

At the beginning of treatment, goals for therapy are discussed. Sometimes, the therapy session may head in a direction that is unrelated to any of the goals of treatment. This is appropriate at certain times, but if this is happening every session and for the entire duration, then there can be a limit to the progress of therapy. Structure is important in CBT, but flexibility is also important. This would be a time to collaborate to discuss whether to continue on the current diversion or issue that is being discussed or go back to what was discussed in the agenda.

6. ASSIGN HOMEWORK

Towards the end of each session, a collaborative discussion takes place about homework or “action tasks” to perform between sessions. An action task might be to buy a calendar if one of the issues is time management or recording thoughts and images that occur during stressful periods in a notebook to discuss and address at the following session. Always make sure to follow-up on the homework or action task at the next session or it creates the impression that working on problems or goals in between sessions is not a crucial part of getting better.

7. ASK FOR FEEDBACK

Towards the end of the session, ask what went well during the session, what could have gone better, and what the main take-away messages are. This helps to build the alliance, improve future sessions, and maximize progress.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an extremely effective form of therapy, either with or without medications and is an excellent way to practice psychiatry.