We know that physical and mental exercise, and proper nutrition, are essential for the maximum health and proper functioning of the brain. But there are other facets that science has also proven are very important, such as proper oxygenation and even body posture. Today we share these with you to help you be aware and learn how to improve on them:

Good posture improves mental activity and performance

If you think this is an exaggeration, you’re wrong. There are several studies showing how posture positively impacts mental acuity and performance, giving us better ability to concentrate on a given task (1). Keeping the back straight is essential for the brain to receive enough oxygen to perform all its tasks and avoid depression and fatigue while improving concentration. We must not forget that the musculoskeletal system is not only a framework maintaining us upright, but all our other organs also depend on it interconnectedly. Therefore, if you feel overwhelmed by work or study, avoid melting into the chair trying to find a more comfortable position. Instead, stand up and walk for a few minutes, bend your legs, stretch, relax your muscles, flex them, and sit down again. In case of constant discomfort, seek the help of a specialist like a chiropractor – just as you would a dentist or ophthalmologist.

Breathe and keep a pulse on your respiratory system

The positive effects of proper breathing have been widely demonstrated on behavior and mental capacity (2). As mentioned before, oxygen is the fundamental nutrient of the brain. Those who practice advanced breathing techniques spend days running on oxygen alone. Controlled breathing has shown positive physical, mental, and psychological effects – even in people who have suffered severe traumatic brain injury (3). Learning to take advantage of purposeful breathing is a good tool to control risk factors like stress and anxiety. Ensuring that our pulmonary, bronchial, and nasal faculties are working properly is essential. There are people who suffer from constant congestion, runny nose, headache, loss of smell, and difficulty breathing, which may be caused by small nasal polyps. We always recommend a check-up with a specialist as the first big step towards better oxygenation of both the body and mind.

Limit risk factors

Improving concentration and memory is related to keeping risk factors at bay for vascular diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The condition of the brain and its ability to function depend on this. Diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases can impair memory and increase the risk stroke or dementia (4).

Sleep like a baby!

Sound sleep is one of the best investments you can make for your brain in the short and long term. Several studies show that sleeping less affects the brain’s ability to process information during the day, deteriorating concentration, memory, learning, emotional state, and behavior. In fact, a good sleep cycle determines equilibrium of our mental, emotional, and systemic performance. Sleep has a direct influence on the immune response, digestion, and hormonal and metabolic processes, among others – all interrelated (5). One particular study demonstrated that lack of sleep can even affect the ability to capture new memories, such as relating names to faces. (6)

Don't forget to nourish the brain for proper functioning:

  • Omega 3: The fatty acids that help keep brain tissue and its connections healthy. Supplementing for 30 days has been proven to improve mental capacity and activate the brain. (7)

  • Ashwagandha: Stress management can greatly support the brain in accomplishing tasks. Studies show that 8 weeks of taking ashwagandha helped control stress and improve memory and cognitive functions in mildly impaired adults. Similarly, ashwagandha can improve executive function, attention span, and the speed with which information is processed, precisely due to decreased stress. (8)

  • Turmeric: Has been shown to stop neurological deterioration with its ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and fight inflammation. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, among other benefits. (9)

Focus (pun intended) on taking care of the brain to improve your quality of life, thinking about today and considering tomorrow.

Let's be healthier together.

Your Santo Remedio Team.

References

1. Carissa WilkesRob KyddMark SagarElizabeth BroadbentUpright posture improves affect and fatigue in people with depressive symptoms, J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2017 Mar;54:143-149. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2016.07.015. Epub 2016 Jul 30.  

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27494342/

2. Helen Y. Weng, Jarrod A. Lewis-Peacock, Frederick M. Hecht, Melina R. Uncapher, David A. Ziegler, Norman A. S. Farb, Veronica Goldman, Sasha Skinner, Larissa G. Duncan, Maria T. Chao, Adam Gazzaley. Focus on the Breath: Brain Decoding Reveals Internal States of Attention During Meditation, Front Hum Neurosci. 2020; 14: 336. Published online 2020 Aug 28. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2020.00336, PMCID: PMC7483757, PMID: 33005138

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7483757/

3. Colin SilverthorneSat Bir S KhalsaRobin GuethNicole DeAvillaJanie Pansini, Respiratory, physical, and psychological benefits of breath-focused yoga for adults with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI): a brief pilot study report, Int J Yoga Therap. 2012;(22):47-51. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23070671/

4. John R. Petrie, MD, PhD, Tomasz J. Guzik, MD, PhD, and Rhian M. Touyz, MD, PhD. Diabetes, Hypertension, and Cardiovascular Disease: Clinical Insights and Vascular Mechanisms, Can J Cardiol. 2018 May; 34(5): 575–584. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2017.12.005 PMCID: PMC5953551, PMID: 29459239

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5953551/

5. María Teresa Acosta, Sleep, memory and learning, Medicina (B Aires). 2019;79 Suppl 3:29-32. PMID: 31603840 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31603840/

6. Leonie Maurer , Kirsi-Marja Zitting, Kieran ElliottCharles A Czeisler, Joseph M Ronda, Jeanne F Duffy, A new face of sleep: The impact of post-learning sleep on recognition memory for face-name associations. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2015 Dec;126:31-8.  doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2015.10.012. Epub 2015 Nov 5. PMID: 26549626 PMCID: PMC4666502 DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2015.10.012 . https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26549626/

7. Isabelle BauerMatthew HughesRenee RowsellRobyn CockerellAndrew PipingasSheila CrewtherDavid Crewther, Omega-3 supplementation improves cognition and modifies brain activation in young adults. Hum Psychopharmacol2014 Mar;29(2):133-44. doi: 10.1002/hup.2379. PMID: 24470182 DOI: 10.1002/hup.2379

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24470182/

8. Dnyanraj Choudhary, Sauvik BhattacharyyaSekhar Bose, Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions. Randomized Controlled Trial. Suppl2017 Nov 2;14(6):599-612. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2017.1284970. Epub 2017 Feb 21. PMID: 28471731 DOI: 10.1080/19390211.2017.1284970

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28471731/

9. Shrikant Mishra, Kalpana Palanivelu. The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer's disease: An overview. Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2008 Jan-Mar; 11(1): 13–19. doi: 10.4103/0972-2327.40220. PMCID: PMC2781139. PMID: 19966973

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781139/

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