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Men’s Health: Brain health

Introduction to Men’s Health


Stimulate your smarts

Like your body, your brain enjoys going to the ‘gym’. Try incorporating more of these mental workouts into your routine to support the cogs of your cognition.

  • Sharpen your smarts with brain-training exercises  

  • Take up a new language and learn your ‘bonjours’ from your ‘buongiornos’ 

  • Find flow with music-making

  • Get book wormy andread more    

  • Try your hand at a new hobby – be it Brazilian jujitsu or rock climbing

  • Embrace your inner Picasso and get creative 

 
Try to commit to two 10-15 minute HIIT sessions each week. You could fit in a session before work or on your lunch break.  
 

Sniff rosemary

 
Shakespeare once famously said, ‘rosemary is for remembrance’ – and he wasn’t wrong. There’s some evidence to suggest this fragrance may play a role in memory. In one study, researchers reported that the inhaling of rosemary essential oil enhanced the memory of participants over 65 years. (19) Try keeping a bottle of rosemary essential oil to hand whenever your mind needs flossing.
 

Try HIIT

As with most areas of your body, your brain loves movement. In a 2015 study, researchers reported that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) might increase the production of ‘brain-derived neurotropic factor’ or BDNF. (20) BDNF is a molecule that supports brain health. It can be helpful to think of it as your brain’s high-octane fuel, helping it grow new nerve cells. Unfortunately, we can’t bottle BNDF. But one way to access it is through regular physical activity, particularly HIIT.
 

HIIT vs. traditional exercise

Rather than training non-stop for a given period, you divide a HIIT workout into smaller sessions, with ‘intervals’ of rest in between. These sessions must
be intense (hint: you should be pouring with sweat at the end).
 
Did you know?
Dehydration of just 2 per cent could impair your cognitive functions, including memory, attention and mood? Here are our helpful hacks to hit your H2O target: 
 

Stay hydrated

  • Add cucumber, lemon, or mint for flavour
  • Drink through a reusable straw, which will encourage you to drink faster
  • Set an alarm to remind you to drink every 30 minutes 
  • Buy a water bottle that marks how much you need to drink daily

Go Mediterranean

The Mediterranean diet is often lauded as the holy grail of good nutrition – and it’s really no surprise. Delivering its bounty of nutrient-dense fruit, vegetables, legumes, oily fish, nuts, unsaturated fats, like olive oil and a small amount of red meat, this age-old regime is famed for its brain-loving qualities. In fact, research suggests a higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet may slow cognitive decline. (21) Consider adding a taste of the Med to your meals. 
 

Additional support

To keep your smarts sharp, you may wish to consider the following extras.

Iron

A building block for red blood cells and DNA, iron contributes to normal cognitive function. The NRV (Nutrient Reference Value) for adults is 14mg daily, but many men struggle to achieve this. Eat it: red kidney beans.

Zinc

The second most abundant trace mineral in the body, zinc contributes to normal cognitive function.
Eat it: pumpkin seeds. 

Omega-3 fatty acids

Abundant in oily fish, the omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is particularly important for health.  DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal brain function.* Eat it: mackerel.

Gingko Biloba

A useful bioflavonoid, Ginkgo Biloba may help maintain normal cognitive function and blood system microcirculation.
 

References

  1. (2020). Herbs That Can Boost Your Mood And Memory. [ONLINE] Northumbria.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/news-events/news/2016/04/herbs-that-can-boost-your-mood-and-memory/   
  2. Saucedo Marquez CM, Vanaudenaerde B, Troosters T, Wenderoth N. (2015) High-intensity interval training evokes larger serum BDNF levels compared with intense continuous exercise. J Appl Physiol. 15; 119(12): 1363-73.
  3. Féart, C., Samieri, C., & Barberger-Gateau, P. (2010). Mediterranean diet and cognitive function in older adults. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 13(1), 14–18.