8 Tips to Protect and Sharpen Your Brain

Getty Images Find yourself forgetting what you just read or misplacing your car keys? You’re not alone. In a recent survey, 67 percent of us admitted that menopause-related hormonal upheavals were sapping our brainpower . The good news: These simple, inexpensive steps can improve your focus right now. Enjoy colorful berries.

Enjoying one cup of red, blue, or purple-colored berries every day can make you feel as clear-headed as you did a decade ago, according to Columbia University researchers. “Berries are rich in flavonoids, which boost the flow of nutrient-rich blood to your brain cells,” explains Leo Galland, M.D., director of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine in New York City. Go outside.

This just in from University of Michigan researchers: You can cut your risk of major brain lapses 50 percent or more simply by stepping outside for some sunshine each day. Sun exposure stimulates your body to produce vitamin D, which helps your brain cells stay young and your memory stay sharp, says David Perlmutter, M.D., author of Brain Maker . Can’t get outside every day? Taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D-3 daily is also protective. Take salacia supplements.

Supplementing with 500 milligrams of this Ayurvedic herb daily ( $15.24, Amazon ) could improve your focus and concentration within 10 days, reports The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition . Salacia helps your brain absorb up to 27 percent more energizing glucose from every meal, the study authors say. Wear earplugs.

Wearing earplugs when you’re trying to concentrate in a noisy environment (say around chatty coworkers) can double your ability to zero in on the task at hand, say University of Nebraska researchers. Nonstop noise — even the low-level kind like clacking on a keyboard — tires the part of your brain that helps you think clearly and remember what you’ve just learned. Sniff a lemon.

Take a deep whiff of a freshly cut lemon. Its tart, mouthwatering aroma stimulates the release of energizing beta brain waves, revving focus, concentration, and memory, often within 30 seconds, according to
researchers at Stanford University. Sip ginseng tea.

Sipping two cups of ginseng tea daily could improve your focus and concentration 31 percent in two weeks, Canadian researchers say. Ginseng acts as a gentle, natural brain stimulant, and it gives your short-term memory a significant boost. Exercise.

Fitting in as little as 30 minutes of easy exercise (brisk walking, biking, swimming, even doing three 10-minute sessions of jumping jacks all count) daily prompts the release of a compound (BDNF) that spurs the growth of healthy new brain cells while helping to rejuvenate older ones. In fact, just tweaking your routine with this one step can double your ability to focus, think clearly and stay organized. Eat lean beef.

Eating 12 ounces of lean beef weekly can significantly improve both short- and longterm memory, suggests research in the journal Biological Trace Element Research .

Beef is rich in vitamin B-12 and zinc, nutrients that help the memory center of your brain function at its peak, says study coauthor Agnes Piechal, Ph.D. (The leanest cuts include top sirloin, eye round, and top
round steak.)

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Aging.

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