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Brainweek - Roadmap to a healthy brain

Roadmap to a healthy brain

Exercise the body

Physical exercise has a protective effect on the brain and its mental processes, and may even help prevent dementia. Regular exercise promotes cardio-vascular health, boosts levels of brain-protective chemicals and reduces stress. Aim for at least 30 minutes exercise a day.

Adequate sleep

Sleep recharges the brain and allows the body to rest and heal. While we sleep our brain consolidates memories. Inadequate sleep affects the way our brain cells function and can raise the risk of stroke and depression. About 7 to 9 hours a night is ideal.

Manage stress

High levels of chronic stress are not only bad for blood pressure, cholesterol, and other physical ailments, but it also wears away at brain fitness and overall memory performance. We can't entirely eliminate stress from our lives, but we can minimize it to improve brain health and memory ability.

Balanced diet

Our brains need a well-balanced, low cholesterol, low saturated fat diet. Studies have shown that foods rich in Omega-3 are good for the brain so include fish in your diet. Enjoy caffeine and alcohol in moderation and as a general rule, good nutrition for the body is good nutrition for the brain.

Stay socially connected

Maintaining friends and social networks can help keep our brains healthy as we age. Living life to the fullest and having fun is an easy prescription to follow.

Mental Workout

Use it or lose it! Keeping the brain active seems to increase its vitality and may build its reserves of brain cells and connections. You could even generate new brain cells. Stay curious and involved commit to lifelong learning to keep those brain cells working


Funnily enough, your memory plays a pretty crucial role in all cognitive activities including reading, reasoning and mental calculation. It’s a pretty handy thing to have, to keep and to expand on! There are simple things you can do to help keep your memory on track, for example, try simple exercises such as listening to a song you don’t know and memorising the lyrics or even brushing your teeth in a different way. By trying new things you’re using pathways you haven’t used before and in turn are engaging the senses to help stimulate your mind and strengthen your memory.


Help your brain stay attentive and maintain concentration despite noise and distractions and improve your ability to multitask. Try Switching up your routines, change around your desk lay out or drive a different way to work. It’s the little things that count so avoid auto-pilot and increase awareness.


Want to improve your fluency, grammatical and vocabulary skills? Challenge your ability to recognize, remember and understand words with simple little tricks and tasks – it’s as easy as reading a different section of the newspaper! For example if you regularly read the sports section then switch to the business, and you’ll soon become familiar with the lingo. It’s also easier to read and understand new words in context, but if you don’t recognise a word, make sure you look it up.


Analyzing visual information is necessary to be able to act within your environment. It’s a colourful world out there, and there are lots of things to remember. Tying in with memory training, play a game with yourself when you’re sitting waiting with nothing to do; pick out a few objects in the room and try remember where they were located. Try to remember again a few hours, or even a day later.

Executive function

Not nearly as complicated as the name suggests, executive function is all about the logic and reasoning skills you use on a daily basis. This is where your friends come in. In order to hone in on these skills, get out there and socialize. It’s good for your brain. Not only is this fun form of therapy good from a mental well-being perspective, but it also boosts your intellect through the amount of strategizing you’re doing just from hanging with your mates, through considering possible responses for desired outcomes.



There’s nothing fishy about it, salmon stacks up as one of the top tier brain-power foods. A great source of essential fatty acids (such as the all-important Omega-3), protein, low saturated fat and with generally among the lowest amounts of contaminants (such as mercury) among seafood, wild salmon is good for your brain, your mood, your synaptic connections and your arteries and helps reduce your risk of a stroke, Dementia and Alzheimer's. Other oily fish also stacks up pretty well, but no, deep fried doesn’t count.

Cocoa Beans

Cognitive enhancement, mood and bliss-enhancement, antioxidants, flavonoids, catechins and many other brain & body-enhancing elements, this is one of nature’s super-foods. While it is better known to us in the not-quite-so-healthy form of chocolate, you’re not doing yourself any favours by grabbing a block of the old dairy milk. For some of the good stuff, look out for products which have a high percentage of cocoa such as in dark chocolate bars, or pick up some organic cocoa powder for nom-nom drinks (refining, processing and over-roasting depletes the actual nutrients so be wary).

Berry Good

They’re delicious, they’re nutritious, get berrilicious for some super-good brain action. Blueberries come out on top with the highest antioxidant power, which can in turn help protect your brain against stroke or other neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.


Having issues remembering why you came into a room? Remember what this article is about? Make sure you’re getting enough folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 and you might just see an improvement in your ability to recall information. Hit up your cereals, wheat bran, wheat germ and whole wheat pasta to get your daily dose.

Eat more tomatoes

A tomato a day keeps dementia away. Chuck these little beauties into your salads and sammies because there is good evidence to suggest that tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called Lycopne. This lovely little lifesaver can help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's.


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