Natural ways to increase your brain power

brain powerToday's hectic lifestyle is responsible for the most common complaint I see in my daily general practice - fatigue.

Trying to keep mentally alert to deal with the everyday challenges we face can be particularly daunting.

Sleep deprivation, overwork and stress place incredible demands on our brain’s energy metabolism. If we have a health problem such as diabetes, asthma or hypertension the fatigue may be compounded, plus the energy drain placed on our physiology by drugs (prescription or social), a poor diet, inactivity, a toxic environment and emotional conflicts.

So how do we ever stop this brain power failure?

Sometimes we burn out, leading to “adrenal exhaustion” (morning fatigue, low blood pressure, lower back ache without other cause) or depression (flat mood, loss of interest in life and its activities, emotional withdrawal, poor performance and inability to relate to others).

Our brains suffer if they do not receive enough of four crucial nutrients:
glucose, protein, oxygen and water.

Eating meals regularly helps to maintain a steady blood glucose level to supply our brains with a constant energy source. More importantly the foods chosen need to be unrefined – no processed flour or sugar – wholefood, protein rich and freshly prepared.

Our atmospheric oxygen levels are falling with each decade of global industrialisation. When you travel in a commercial aircraft you are experience even lower oxygen levels than exist in a polluted city. Choose to live or work where the air is clean, as much as is practical and incorporate a regular commitment to aerobic exercise and breathing practice (such as yoga) into your life to increase the uptake of that oxygen to refresh your brain cells.

Avoid taking caffeine and alcohol, which lead to dehydration so that your brain is bathed in acid waste. Headaches often result form dehydration due to this acid concentration, as well as the reduction in the volume of the cerebrospinal fluid. This crystal clear fluid bathes the brain, supporting the delicate structures with a buffer zone inside the skull plus removing waste products produced by stress, allergy, toxicity and infection.

The impact of stress

42% of women admit to being stressed, versus 26% men (source = “Medicheck” preventive health screening program).

Stress poses a significant threat to our wellbeing, such that it is impossible to operate effectively mentally or physically under conditions of stress. In addition, too many of us live with high levels of daily (and nightly) stress, which undermine our health, somewhat like Chinese water torture. The negative effects on our nervous systems flow on to affect our heart and circulation, digestion and elimination, immunity, hormones and reproduction, respiration, musculoskeletal system, skin and appearance. Stress ages us faster!

Over prolonged periods of stress our adrenal hormones, such as cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline, become deficient and adrenal exhaustion may result. If this state persists for too long our nervous system remains in constant “overdrive” which is difficult to balance and the adrenal glands exhaust their hormone supplies, causing them to shrivel (atrophy) and scar, so that they permanently lose their full capacity to secrete their hormones. Consequently our brain power is seriously compromised.

Stress – solutions


Meditation opens a channel of healing for the body and energy regeneration for the mind. The silence of pure awareness is extremely refreshing to the mind, which finds it increasingly easy to let go of old thought patterns and become more open and flexible. Rigid habits of thinking and feeling impair normal brain functioning and contribute to accelerated physiological ageing.

A ‘fourth state of consciousness’ - neither sleeping, dreaming nor waking - occurs with meditation. In this state the body has a reduced cortisol output, with heightened global brain activity, along with many other physiological benefits. It increases blood flow to the brain, reduces heart rate, reduces blood pressure, slows respiratory rate, reduces oxygen consumption, relaxes muscle tone and drops blood lactate levels (acid waste from muscle contraction or tension).

Meditation reduces the need for drugs of many types, such as pain relievers and antidepressants. It can switch on the body’s own extensive pharmacy to elicit self-healing potential. It is in this way that it has become an essential and very effective tool for treating cancer. The energy regeneration effect of meditation reduces the need for stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, guarana and amphetamines – a much safer “buzz” to get!

A middle-aged meditator visits doctor one-quarter as often as non-meditator. In fact, the benefits were best for the over 40’s. According to research into Transcendental Meditation ( TM) meditators had 87% less disorders of the brain and nervous system.

Meditation also slows biological ageing. Dr R. Keith Wallace, physiologist and chairman, Graduate Dept. Neurosciences, Maharishi International University, studied 84 meditators with an average age of 53. He found that short-term meditators (< 5 years) were 5 years younger than their chronological age, whilst long-term meditators (> 5 years) were 12 years younger!

There is a theory that DHEA (dihydroepiandrosterone), an adrenal hormone, conserves tissues and prevents ageing. Significantly higher levels of DHEA are found in meditators, some equivalent to people 5–10 years their junior.

Meditation also increases serotonin secretion by the brain, which improves mood and counteracts depression. The elderly can achieve improved cognitive (thinking) flexibility, mental health, learning ability and behavioural flexibility.

True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.

~William Penn

Exercises to help mental flexibility and increase brain power

~ Crosswords, especially cryptic
~ Card games
~ Board games, e.g.Chess, Scrabble &  Trivial Pursuit
~ Puzzles, e.g. Edward de Bono’s 'Super Mind Games'
~ Using a computer for almost anything - writing, accounting, Internet, email communication, games (, research, creating music
~ Study of all forms
~ Reach across and switch off the television!

* Any physical exercise which makes you physically flexible allows you to be more mentally flexible

© Copyright Giselle Cooke

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