Written by Lori Jo Vest
Fact checked by The Brain Blog Team
What if you could improve your brain function and memory by making simple adjustments to your lifestyle, using tools that you can easily access? Consider this a quick biohacking guide for better brain health.
If you’re anything like the rest of us—overstimulated, overtired, undernourished, depressed or just plain stressed out—you’ve probably noticed that your cognitive functioning and short-term memory are suffering. And if you’re in your 40s, 50s or 60s, you may have wondered if your mental acuity is as precise as it could be. And is there any way to stave off scary things like dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?
It may be easier than you think. May we suggest Biohacking Your Brain?
According to Merriam-Webster, one definition of biohacking is when someone uses “science and technology to make his or her body function better and more efficiently.” It’s an idea that originated in tech and has evolved from thoughts like having chips inserted under your skin so you don’t have to carry keys to a more realistic “DIY biology,” getting the physical and mental results you want from your body and mind by using what’s available to you biologically - adjusting your food, exercise, sleep, meditation, nootropics, supplements and more. It’s getting so popular that investors are enthusiastic about investing in startups that create biohacking products and services, like hangover cures and cryogenics.
If your goal is to enhance your brain health, elevate your mood, improve your cognitive abilities, tighten up your executive functioning, and stave off degenerative brain disorders like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, we don’t think it’s ever too early to start biohacking your brain.
One of the best things you can do to support your memory and brain health is to give your brain the nutrients and anitoxidants it needs. Of course, there are basics like staying hydrated and eating a plant-based diet that fulfills the brain’s basic nutritional needs. Exercise helps, too, by increasing blood flow of those nutrients to the brain and, according to research, acting as a natural antidepressant.
But that’s typically not enough. The average American diet doesn’t include many of the specific nutrients the brain needs like carotenoids, omega-3s and vitamin E. And even if you’re laser focused on nutrition in your daily menu, you may not be getting the recommended amount that your brain requires to function at the highest levels or to prevent conditions that often come with aging, like Alzheimer’s and dementia. In fact, studies show that individuals with high concentrations of carotenoids and omega-3s in their brain demonstrate much better cognitive functions, and that patients with Alzheimer's disease are actually deficient in these nutrients.
For example, research shows that the brain needs 12 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin a day, yet most Americans only get 10% of that amount. Fortunately, there are brain health supplements to fill in the missing nutrients. You can learn more about Biohacking Supplements for Brain Health further down in this post!
When you read the words “Quieting the Mind,” you most likely think of meditation. It’s an ancient practice, requiring that you sit quietly and focus on your breath, a mantra or a sound. A known stress reliever and anxiety reducer, meditation takes advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity, allowing you to “train” your brain to slow down and achieve greater clarity. Research demonstrates that just 10 minutes of meditation a day can shift brain structure enough to lower feelings of anxiety, support better brain health and improve cognitive functioning. It’s definitely worth the time spent in lotus position.
Did you know that lower pitched sounds actually slow the brain down? Music has so many therapeutic uses, including lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety and improving concentration.
The use of binaural beats to create a state of relaxation during the day and to enhance sleep has been making the news of late, because this type of audio, which combines two different frequencies to create a lower frequency, creates brain waves similar to those it typically reaches during deep sleep. Consider bringing binaural beats into your daily activities during meditation or by listening before bed.
Music can also be helpful for focus and concentration. Due to the “Mozart Effect,” classical music has been shown to improve student performance on exams by up to 12%. Consider listening to classical music when you need to stay focused on the task at hand and to improve your problem-solving ability.
If you’re struggling to keep up with your growing to-do list, you may think you should stay up late to keep hacking away at it. Unfortunately, that’s NOT the best idea. You may be able to check off those tasks, but the quality of your work will inevitably suffer.
When you lose out on the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep, your long term brain health could suffer, too. Your brain relies on sleep to clear out a type of metabolic waste called beta amyloid. According to the National Institutes of Health, a build-up of beta amyloid is found in the brains of people suffering with Alzheimer’s. Why take a risk when simply setting a healthy sleep schedule can help you avoid it?
Why not try any - or even all - of the suggestions in this article? If it all seems like too much, start slowly, by adding the patented Memory Health® supplement for brain health to your diet. The Memory Health formulation was scientifically developed and clinically tested independently, with research results published in the scientific Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. These tests demonstrated improvement in cognitive function, memory, and mood. That’s an easy biohack!