During the last couple months I offered a couple local workshops on Non-Medication Interventions for ADHD. The workshops covered Movement Based Strategies as well as Diet/Nutrition and Environmental Influences. Incase you missed it, here are a few tips from the workshops that will help your brain function better. These strategies can be used by people of all ages and they can be used immediately.
Tips for Better Brain Functioning:
1. Keep Moving: Movement and exercise do some pretty amazing things for the brain. It makes sense that our brain health might be tied to movement given our evolutionary history as a species. Our brains developed to be what they are in the context of a LOT of movement. For most of our existence as a species we were outside moving all day long. Movement increases the production of neurotransmitters that help us learn, think and feel good. Movement increases blood flow to the brain. It helps the body metabolize toxins, allowing your cells to work more efficiently and effectively. Certain types of exercise, such as dance or tai chi may have some additional benefits. These movement based practices increase something in the brain called BDNF (bran derived neurotrophic factor). This is like Miracle Grow for brain cells.
2. Go Outside: Spending too much time indoors has several negative consequences. It keeps us separated from the natural cycles and can disrupt our systems. Here are some examples of how this happens: a) the typical North American lifestyle results in an excess of positive ions in the body which cause all sorts of damage. The Earth naturally has an excess of negative ions. Guess what happens when you have direct contact with the Earth? It grounds you. Literally! When you put your bare feet on the Earth, the positive ions in the body become balanced by the negative ions in the Earth. There is some evidence that this can help with inflammation. b) light sensors in the eyes signal to your brain when it should make melatonin to help with sleep. The light frequency that occurs as the sun comes up tells your brain to stop making melatonin and the light frequencies at sunset tell your brain to start making melatonin. Because we are seldom exposed to those frequencies and confuse our brain by staring at artificial sources of light, our production of melatonin suffers and many of us have problems with sleep. C) Spending time in nature and listening to nature sounds has a calming effect on the nervous system. It improves healing and facilitates improved focus and attention.
3. Change Your Diet: By eating less simple sugars, drinking more water, eating more vegetables, avoiding foods sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals and supplementing your diet with Omega 3 fatty acids, you are helping your brain get what it needs to function at its best. The brain needs specific sugars for energy (low glycemic foods), protein to build neurotransmitters and the right kind of fats (Omega 3’s) to speed electrical communication between nerve cells. The research is clear that giving your brain the right stuff and avoiding the “bad stuff” can often have a dramatic influence on energy, mood and cognitive performance.