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We all forget things from time to time − our keys, our glasses, and sometimes even our children’s names (ha!). We don’t necessarily think much of it because, heck, life’s busy and mistakes happen.
Generally speaking, the occasional brain glitch isn’t anything to worry about and doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re all losing our minds: it’s just a normal part of the human experience. And yet, as we grow older, our senses gradually decline and our brains no longer seem to work like they once did. An inevitable consequence of the aging process, right?
While it’s definitely true that age-related brain decline is a common occurrence for many people, it’s not true that it can’t be avoided. They say the human brain is a muscle, and while this is more a saying than it is scientific fact, it’s true in the sense that the brain works a lot like a muscle in what it requires for strength and longevity. After all, what are the two things that muscles need in order to function and grow stronger? Nutrition and exercise − and plenty of it!
When muscles aren’t flexed, stretched, and worked out regularly, they go into a state of what’s known as atrophy, which literally means to waste away. And this atrophy is worsened when these same muscles aren’t fed the amino acids they need to rebuild tissue. This is a one-two punch below the belt, so to speak, and a proverbial death sentence for these muscles if the problem isn’t addressed. The human brain works much the same way in that it needs to be constantly challenged, conditioned, and fed in order to thrive. Otherwise, it too will fall into a state of atrophy.
Sharpening a Dull Mind and Keeping It Honed
There are a million and one reasons to keep your brain fit, not the least of which include to maintain your senses, awareness, memory, and mental acuity. The very essence of who you are as an individual is a factor of how well your brain functions. Hence why it’s absolutely essential to adopt dietary and lifestyle habits that foster its preservation and growth. Not only for your sake, but for your family, your children, and your grandchildren.
On the lifestyle side of things, engaging in memory-promoting activities that push your brain to its limits will help sharpen your mind. This facilitates the forging of new neural pathways whose job it is to protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s − not to mention improve your overall sense of health and happiness. Such activities include activities as simple as a crossword puzzle, or as ambitious as learning a new language.
The field of neuropsychology deals extensively with this concept, focusing on ways to improve brain management techniques in order to awaken the brain and keep it functioning at its most optimal. Much of this involves teaching the brain how to experience the world via the senses, and process and retrieve information. One element of this is to minimize distractions and focus on one subject or activity at a time to avoid confusion, or what we might call “information overload.”
7 Ways to Get (and Keep) a Sharp Mind
Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat magazine outlines a number of other scientifically-backed ways to help sharpen a dull mind, including:
- Continuing to Learn and Expanding Your Mind
Experts say keeping mentally active, whether through engaging in a new hobby, continuing education, or learning a new skill, helps keep brain cells stimulated and communicative.
- Using All Your Senses
The more senses you use in learning something new, the more involved your brain will be in retaining it in your long-term memory.
- Don’t Get Down on Yourself
Remember earlier when I said that age-related cognitive failure doesn’t have to become everyone’s reality? It’s true, and you shouldn’t assume that just because you’re getting older your memory is going to fail. Think positively, work hard, and believe in yourself. You’ll achieve so much more that way!
- Automate the Mundane and Simplify Your Life
Economizing your mental energy and expending it only on tasks that require critical thinking − not on trying to find your keys for the umpteenth time − will help conserve brain function. So will removing clutter and other distractions from your daily life.
- Repeat What You Want to Remember
If you find yourself forgetting things all the time, repeat the things you don’t want to slip your mind until they’re stuck in your head.
- Space Out Your Repetitions
For more complex study involving repetitions, space your study times out at increasingly longer increments. For example, start at once an hour, then every few hours, then every day, and so on. Adopting this spaced rehearsal technique helps improve memory as it relates to assimilating new information
- Ever Heard of a Mnemonic?
Remember when you were taking piano lessons and your teacher told you to remember the phrase “Every Good Boy Does Fine” for the musical notes E, G, B, D, and F? That’s an example of a mnemonic device that can aid in the remembrance of lists. Another example of a mnemonic device is an acronym, in which each of the letters spelling out a particular word stand for another word or phrase that starts with that letter.
Neurochoice: Changing Your Brain By Choice
You also have the power to sharpen your own brain through neurochoice, which is basically just a conscious decision you make or thought you have that leads you in a particular direction. Every choice you make either works in your favor to foster positive personal growth, or to your detriment. An example is in the case of addictions or other destructive behaviors that, over time, can become bad habits that feel like they just come naturally.
The human brain really is an interesting device in that the decisions we make literally rewire our neuronal pathways, facilitating a constant change of flux either in one direction or another. This characteristic is known as neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s way of adapting and changing based on the decisions we make, or the conscious thoughts we choose to have.
Focusing on the good in life and choosing to be grateful for the things you have, for instance, will help forge a greater overall sense of contentment and peace. Habitually harping on the negative, on the other hand, will push you in the direction of bitterness and resentment. In both scenarios, your neural pathways are being rewired − either for better or for worse.
And since practice makes perfect, even in the brain, what you think about and do with repetition and consistency will become who you are. This means you have the power, at least to some degree, to change who you are.
Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb puts it like this: “The neurons that fire together, wire together.”
In other words, where you lead your own mind, how you choose to think, and what you choose to do − your “power of influence,” so to speak − will steer not only the course of your life but the destiny of your mind, either to health or to ruin.
My advice: in everything you do, think and choose wisely.
Do you have additional tips to help keep your mind sharp? Please share in the Comments section below.
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John Tongue says
Ty, you might want to look into Cogmed Working Memory Training, a proven online cognitive training program that improves working memory in 8 out of 10 people that use it (according to published research). Lose those keys no more! I love your stuff…perhaps we should partner up?
Annie Whittaker Pais says
These learning, brain stimulation techniques are logical of course. First there are however the 6 key’s to cell structure wellbeing: Hydration, moving, eating a whole, plant based diet, breathing to capacity, fully resting and releasing, both built up energy and digestive waste. Without these in place, the cells may not even be earthy enough to function.
Annie Whittaker Pais says
These learning, brain stimulation techniques are logical of course. First there are however the 6 keys to cell structure wellbeing: Hydration, moving, eating a whole, plant based diet, breathing to capacity, fully resting and releasing, both built up energy and digestive waste. Without these in place, the cells may not even be healthy enough to function.
Wilma E. says
Hi Annie. I’d like more info on the 6 keys. Where is this info from — can you refer me to the source? Thank you.
Wendy Melcher says
I have a friend whose father in law was just diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer and they have suggested he just go on hospice. He didn’t even know he was sick until very recently. It has spread to lymph nodes , liver, lungs. Is there anything I can refer them to? He lives in Las Vegas. I feel like he’s so bad off that he would need to go to a special cancer treatment center that would have many of the different protocols in one place and someone caring for him daily until they see some type of change for the positive. Any suggestions?
The best advice we can give you is to consult with one of the doctors/experts that we interviewed in our Global Quest Series. Here is a link to get their information: https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/experts-info-sheet/
Morag Lorigan says
Try looking at the Bob Beck system of healing cancer. It’s all on youtube and we use it in our family.
Teresa Licari says
I heard about Dr. Gonzales who referred to a patient who survived Stage 4 Pancriatic cancer with 6-8 glasses of carrot juice and this person is alive today 20+ years later Good Luck. Thats a WOW!
Bill McCance says
Hawaii naturopathic Clinic Hilo HAwaii Dr maya Baylak or a naturopath like Dr Ariel Jones ND who detoxs and feeds people raw foods
Please add – get the toxic metals out of your head!
Roger Larson says
Suggest everyone to take a look at the website brainhq.com and exercise your brain with the free exercises.
Silvia Logan says
It is good to keep your mind busy, if it is working properly no matter how old you are. People can do university degrees, when they are 80, if their brain is working very well and they are healthy. One does not have to be 18 or 20 just to do degrees at University. Studying and reading different topics makes a person cleverer and more knowledgeable about things. It is always good to go for long walks in the park every day, even it is cold and full of snow in the winter, because going out for walks helps clear the cobwebs off your brain. When you are in the open air, you feel better and less broody about things.
Rhoda Geisel says
Just a thank you for dedicating yourself to The Truth About Cancer. I have lost a mother @ 54 and father @52 to this disease. My prayer is that our medical world will focus on healing thru both western and natural medicine as there is so much good out there that we are’nt able to take advantage of due to politics, monetary gain and pure unawareness.
Peter Garrett says
I read about an interesting bit of research recently where twins were studied where one of the twins had greater age related memory loss than the other. The result of the research showed that leg strength was the most reliable indicator of potential memory loss indicating that exercise or lack of are significant in protecting or losing memory.
Stress may steal B vitamins, Zinc and progesterone. Progesterone may help memory/IQ. Bioidentical hormones may help…estriol/progesterone/testosterone. Amour thyroid not by TSH may help but upper range of free T4 and free T3. Fish oil 2000mg/lecithin/parsley/ginkgo/Vit C and Vit E/5000mcg of biotin/Vit B12 methylcobalamin intrinsic factor kind/MTHF folate/coenyzme Q10/coenyzymated B vitamins and more may help the brain. Exercise may make more neurons and mitochondria. Sunlight/Vit D3 5000IU…no gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO…taking vitamins/good oils/minerals/probiotic..LDN..detoxing may help. Heavy metals may block the thyroid and other chemical reactions. Far Infrared Sauna or sweating outside may help remove heavy metals fast. EDTA/DMPS may unclog blood vessels and remove heavy metals. Dance/piano/talking/computer work/Rebounding/grounding/good sleep (raising oxygen may help sleep). Low sugar fruit may help. Sugar may swell the brain cutting off oxygen. Organic sulfur may help lower swelling/infammation. Eating pure organic foods and nothing with a label may help. If you don’t use it you may lose it.
I highlight books and star things I want to remember and then reread those things. I have lists so I can sleep at night and not need to try to repeat in my brain all night things I want to remember. I carry paper/pen with me always now for notes to myself. Zinc/Mg/rhodiola/Nature’s plus- Source of life/ozone treatments for Lyme and more help my memory.
Dr. Johann-Georg Blomeyer says
There is something very funny. Can anybody tell me why mothers in all continents have a strange habit of doing something which our great scientists have never explored (yet) and thus permitted ? Hm…., they all talk to their little newborn angels and touch their fingers while telling them nursery rhymes. Why, why ? Are we not following our great scientists, professors of all responsible departments of human behavior? May be this is extremely dangerous, may cause this and that and this bad result in later life.
Or it may have benefactions ? Is it permitted to suggest that there are concrete positive results ? There is certainly a relation between learning its own language, the melody of the language as a baby and the touching the fingers. You may deny it. But for this doubt I tell you another story, a true story (I have to emphasize this because as a former lawyer I am a true expert in inventing stories which even the judges sometimes found good).
I – about 35 years old – had applied for a new job and arrived for the interview – as expected in Germany -15 min. earlier. I was offered a seat in the room of the management assistant (at that time the secretary who typed all correspondence on the great IBM machines) and we exchanged some polite words. I told her that I had had a great holiday in Dublin, where some of my ancestors lived and that with my bad memory for names I remembered when coming back the name of my boss, very unfortunately not the names of my 5 colleagues. The management assistant said that there is a very effective way in remembering any name if one follows a simple manual process. While loudly and slowly pronouncing the name one should make a picking with a sharp piece, a toothpick at any place of the open hand. If later on – after 20 years – the name was not coming it would definitely come if the place where I had made the pick was touched again.
Result ? There is a specific relation between the brain and the nerves of the hand. And this knowledge is known since the stone age and transmitted by the mothers to the next generation by their intuition (which we men do not possess).
Not convinced ? Another story – also a true one.
It was an odd habit that about 200 years ago that farmers quarreled often about the size of their land because over night the stone between their pieces of land had been removed a bit. So when the stone was set, a specific ritual was performed. A very young boy who had done just shortly before something very bad but had not got the normal trashing, received it just in front of the newly placed stone. Even 70 years later he would be able to tell in a court exactly where the stone had been put.
Myself I moved from cold Berlin to sunny warm Guadalajara and start to learn Spanish, a nice exercise for the brain when one is 76.
Heidi Brown says
Dr. Blomeyer, i wish there was such a formula as you describe, even though I believe it helps a young child, to to learn through hearing and touch. I was born in Germany, grew up in Berlin and came to the states in the sixties. Learned engl. then, and now have a desire to learn Hebrew. I was born in the Neumark 1943. The Rusian occupation there and atrocities were my earliest experience. Going to school, I loved to learn but forgot so easily. This has been a struggle for me. My brother was one who could read a book and remember what he read. Though pain will cause an event to lodge in the memory, that’s not how we want to learn. One who has good recall, cannot understand one who does not.
I remember using touch with my own children, when they were babies. Later had them in my lap when reading to them. Used their finger to follow words in a book too. They easily read at an early age.
Teaching Kindergarten I found a few children who did not remember a lesson and did not learn to read. Some of this is simply development of the brain at this young age. But with two children in 32 years of teaching, I was not successful. That is still a grief to me.
Yet, shutting off the brain and just doing the routine of live is going to lead to stagnation of the brain. But I have seen very intelligent people developed dementia. Some may be due to the statin drugs people take so freely today.
But I have never heard a person give a testimony to the fact of overcoming bad memory problems.
Libby Myers says
Please help me understand something you said. How are we supposed to remember WHERE we pricked our hand when we heard a person’s name for the first time?
Linda Penn says
HELLO TY AND FAMILY: I’ve been with you for sometime now and very thankful for all you do for the good of us out here! I recently turned 70 and have had my share of “Senior moments”. But, I keep my mind busy by reading the Bible, journaling, and I write poetry. I am a firm believer in writing things down and i am with you 100% on the journaling. I write letters on the lovely stationery I collect. So much nicer that an email. I thank you heartily for all your suggestions, for I do have my worries about dementia.
Heidi Brown says
Linda, do not worry! You are are staying engaged with your Creator and are connected to the one who holds all things together by the power of His Word. I believe a lot of brain dysfunction is physical. Not taken care of the body. Then how about statin drugs? They are given routinely and fighting cholesterol is like fighting the brain cells. I wish more was told about this. Since my brother, highly intelligent, died with dementia, I hate these drugs. He had taken them for forty years, was slim and athletic. High cholesterol was just a genetic factor in his body.
James Peters says
Ty I found been humble ,draw near to God and he will change you Super natualy like he did me , with faith all things are working for me.with a balanced Life style doing shareing what you say and do is right.
Heather B Diers says
Hi Ty, I am most interested in this topic because I have an 82 year old mother, who still runs her own business (art/framing gallery) and works circles around all of us, but lately she has been really bothered by her declining memory. She works both sides of her brain all day at work, both with figures and measuring and the creative side and painting. It is also a very physical job, so she also gets a lot of exercise as well as works in her yard. For the most part, she eats an extremely healthy diet, including healthy fats like coconut oil, as well as fish oil and other supplements and lots of veges. I have a feeling that it is her statin drugs her doctor has her on, because she is also having other side effects from the statins. With such a healthy diet, I don’t feel she even needs to be on statins and I think I’ve convinced her to stop them (with doctor’s final approval), but I was wondering if you had any other thoughts on the statin drugs and their connection with dementia, since they rob the brain of healthy cholesteral.
Low thyroid may raise cholesterol. Progesterone may help the thyroid work better and lower swelling/help sleep/energy/bones/IQ and much more. Taking estriol/progesterone/testosterone may help the brain/body work better. Statin drugs may lower coenzyme Q10 and cholesterol needed to make hormones/Vit D/cell membranes/brain. Saturated fat clogs my blood vessels. EDTA IV chelations may unclog blood vessels from Ca plaques. Taking Vit D3 with Vit K2 may help put Ca into the bones instead of blood vessels. Vit B12 methylcobalamin may help the brain/sleep/memory…with intrinsic factor/MTHF. Progesterone and Vit B12 shot/spray/under the tongue kind/cream/intrinsic factor kind may help remyelinate the brain. No gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO …taking vitamins/good oils/minerals…probiotic…LDN..detoxing helps my brain/body. Statin drugs may hurt and not help health. Amour thyroid maybe needed if gluten made antibodies to the thyroid.
Just one comment above noted the importance of a strong thyroid. We are being poisoned by the industrial lifestyle, and one of its effects is the large number of people with autoimmune thyroiditis. You can do all the mind exercises you like, but if your thyroid is failing, it will not be possible to overcome brain fog.
Honky Tonk in TN says
Do you use WIFI in the home? If so, access your WIFI router’s software or internal webpage settings. Lower the transmit power level down to 3 instead of 10. This will help decrease the energy being transmitted, keeps your home WIFI signals within your home dwelling and more private without having others scanning to know your WIFI is there. Also, there is a band of WIFI channels your router uses. Find one that is not used in your neighborhood. This will give you the best range at lower power. Lower power is better than high power.