Train Your Brain On National Dunce Day!

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In honor of National Dunce day we bring you a bit of history about the term “dunce,” and we implore you not to be one.  Dunce day is named for Duns Scotus, a medieval scholar from Scotland, who believed that wearing a cone shaped hat increased one’s learning potential.  The idea was that knowledge would flow from the tip of the hat down into the brain.  Not surprisingly, the idea didn’t really catch on (though it would be pretty great if it actually was this easy to learn new things), and anyone wearing the “dunce cap” was in turn called a “dunce” (and it wasn’t anymore positive then than it is now).

Now, you can choose to either celebrate Dunce day by celebrating stupidity, or you can honor it as a day of improving your brain through brain training.  (We’d offer up a list of stupid things you can do if you choose the former, but we’re afraid that will land us in a heap of trouble so you’re on your own if you go that route.)  

Instead, on this day we want to motivate you to hearken back to the original intentions of Duns Scotus and set aside some time to try and better yourself and train your brain for better health and wellness.  Read a book, train your brain with Fit Brains fun brain games, play some chess, find something that speaks to you today, which can also boost your intellect and your brain health!

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Fit Brains. Brain Training Success.

 

Brain Health: Physical Activity & Your Brain

Physical Activity
Get Moving for a Healthier, Happier Brain!

Now, more than ever before, people are taking the time to learn about the human brain and the many ways they can improve their brain health.  Brain health is about more than disease prevention (though that’s obviously important too); it’s about leading a lifestyle, supported by science, which promotes and facilitates cognitive, emotional, physical ability, spiritual health, and relational health (read: relationships).  Basically when you focus on brain health you can live your life to the fullest.

But what does it look like to actually put this into practice?  We’re devoting some upcoming posts to lay out specific suggestions for improving your brain health, based on research from Dr. Nussbaum’s Brain Health Lifestyle (see www.paulnussbaum.com).  Our first post in this series focuses on physical activity to improve your brain health.

When it comes to physical activity, studies conducted by the University of Adelaide, Australia, have shown that a single 30 minute session of physical activity benefits your brain (as reported in Medical Daily).  Researchers say physical activity makes your brain more “plastic”, which can help things like memory, motor skills and learning in general.  It also increases circulation, which helps for more efficient delivery of nutrients and the like.  That’s probably worth getting out the stationary bike for, right?  There are lots of different ways you can move to benefit your brain though!       

Here are some of our favorite suggestions for exercise to boost your brain health:

  •         Walk a mile daily
  •         Up the ante with aerobics 3 times a week (yeah, break out that old Jane Fonda video)
  •         Dance!
  •         Try some mild weight training
  •         Try Yoga, Pilates, Barre (or whatever they come out with next!)
  •         Basically, whatever you do, DON’T JUST SIT THERE!

What type of physical activity gives your brain the biggest boost?  Tell us in the comments!  Be sure to follow our blog for more lifestyle & health tips.  And, you can always benefit your brain when you play Fit Brains fun brain games!  Try Fit Brains for FREE now!

Fit Brains.  Brain Training Success.

Source: Caba, Justin. Your Brain On Exercise: 30 Minutes of Physical Activity Makes Your Brain More ‘Plastic’. Medical Daily. 2014.

10 Tips to Wake Up, Refresh, & Energize Your Brain

Bad News:
It’s Monday morning.
Coffee is not working.
Schedule for the day involves a lot of thinking, talking, and moving.

Good News:
Coffee is not the only solution to life’s problems.

Weekday mornings are never appealing to the brain. However, there are certain things you can do to ease the torturous time and effort to wake up, refresh, and energize your mind. Check out our tips below:

  1. Drink Water — Drink a glass of water immediately after you wake up to kick up your metabolism and de-fog your brain.
  2. Don’t “Snooze” — You’re setting yourself up to feel lazy & unmotivated throughout the day when you delay waking up and hit “snooze” multiple times in the morning. Pick a time that gives you enough sleep but also enough time to go through your morning routine without rushing, and wake up when your first alarm rings.
  3. Open the Blinds — Sunlight has a direct effect on the activity in our brains. When we deprive our brains of light, we will stay in a groggy, sleep-like state of consciousness. Bright light helps shift our brain waves to higher frequencies and triggers the release of brain-happy neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
  4. Exercise in the Morning — The act of exercising in the morning might sound horrendous if you’ve never done it, but besides obvious health reasons, it’ll actually give you more energy throughout the whole day. Try sleeping in your workout clothes to lessen the chances of making excuses in the morning.
  5. Turn up the Music — Listen to some upbeat tunes as you get ready in the morning. Studies have shown that music is the one stimulus that lights up the entire brain on a PET scan. Music helps the brain release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate the brain’s pleasure and reward centres, as well as emotional responses and motivation. 
  6. Take a Cold Shower — No explanation needed. It’s horrible. But it works.
  7. Don’t treat Coffee like a “Drug” — On days you feel more energized, try to forego the coffee, or at least try cutting down the amount you drink everyday. If you absolutely need a pick-me-up, try drinking some brain-healthy green tea instead!
  8. Eat Breakfast — Take the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” seriously. Breakfast gives your brain vital nutrients that it needs in order to optimally carry out mental processes throughout the day. Think of it as fuel for your body, without it, you’ll run out of fumes! Try including some brain-healthy foods in your breakfast diet.
  9. Talk to Someone — Engage in some light chit-chat with a family member, friend, or co-worker in the morning. Even though you might not feel like it, taking the initiative to engage in a conversation really helps to get your mind & body out of a “zombie-like” state.
  10. Play Fit Brains — Prep your brain for a new day’s workload by spending a few minutes playing Fit Brains brain games. Fit Brains exercises help stimulate and entertain your mind. You can play Fit Brains on any web browser or train on-the-go with our iOS, Android, or Amazon app!

Fit Brains

Do YOU have any “wake-up” tips of your own? Share with us in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #wakeupbraintip!

Oatmeal: Brain Health Benefits & Easy Recipe!

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You probably have heard that oatmeal is an excellent choice for breakfast because it’s healthy, easy to make, and filling…but did you know it’s a brain booster as well? 

Here are some amazing brain health benefits of oatmeal:

  • Shot of Glucose: Oatmeal is a low Glycemic Index food, meaning it doesn’t spike blood sugar. It produces a shot of glucose that your body takes out of the carbohydrates to help your brain function
  • Essential B Vitamins: Research have shown B vitamins reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease & brain shrinkage
  • Vitamin E: Experts in the US found the annual rate of functional decline among dementia sufferers was reduced by 19% thanks to a daily vitamin E supplement
  • Selenium: A single serving of oats contains over a quarter of the selenium you need each day to protect brain cells from oxidants
  • Manganese: A single serving of oats contains over two-thirds of the manganese you need each day to help he body process the brain nutrients Choline & Thiamine.

Below is a basic recipe on how to make oatmeal plus some additional toppings you can add that are also super brain foods!

Easy Oatmeal Recipe (+ optional brain-healthy toppings!)

Serves: 2

What you Need:

  • 1 Cup Water (we like to substitute with soy/almond milk to make it creamier!)
  • 1/3 Cup Steel Cut Oats
  • Honey or Brown Sugar

Optional Brain-Healthy Toppings:

  • Berries (e.g. Blueberries, Blackberries)
  • Bananas
  • Cinnamon
  • Nuts (e.g. Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews)
  • Seeds (e.g. Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds)
  • Nut Butters

Putting it all Together:

  1. Bring water (or milk) to a boil
  2. Add oats, reduce heat to low
  3. Stir in a little honey or brown sugar to sweeten
  4. Simmer for 15-20 minutes (or however long the package says) until water is absorbed
  5. Add toppings of your choice & enjoy!

Leave a comment below & let us know how the recipe worked out for you & suggest your own variation!  Check out the Fit Brains collection of recipes, we will add new brain healthy recipes every couple of days so visit often!

RECIPE: Melon Slices with Raspberry Sauce (improves memory, prevents Alzheimer’s, protects vision)

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Honeydew melon & raspberries are amazing brain foods!  Raspberries contain antioxidants that can prevent inflammation in the brain.  Berry fruits have also been reported to improve memory & motor control.  B-vitamins found in Honeydew melon help prevent or slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.  Honeydew melon also contain an important antioxidant called Zeaxanthin to protect vision by absorbing harmful blue light rays and preventing age-related Macular Degeneration.

Here is an easy & healthy Melon Slices with Raspberry Sauce recipe for a delightful fruity snack! 

Melon with Raspberry Sauce

Serves: 2-4

What you Need:

  • 2 2/3 cups raspberries, unsweetened
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cantaloupe
  • 1 honeydew melon

Putting it all Together:

  • Set aside a few raspberries for garnish.
  • Place the remaining berries in a blender and process until pureed.
  • Add the honey, lemon juice and ginger and process longer.
  • Strain and discard seeds, then set sauce aside.
  • Cut the melons into desired shapes and arrange nicely on a plate.
  • Drizzle with raspberry sauce and top with reserved berries!

Leave a comment below & let us know how the recipe worked out for you.  Check out the Fit Brains collection of recipes, we will add new brain healthy recipes every couple of days so visit often!