3 Brain Foods to Fuel Your Cognitive Function

It is a well-known fact of life that what you eat has a profound impact on the way your body functions. With obesity officially a full-blown epidemic in the United States and the health food market booming, it appears that the vast majority of us are intimately aware of important our eating habits can be. The connection between the foods we choose to consume and our weight or physical health is extremely clear. However, many people are less informed about how directly eating certain foods can influence the our mental capacity. Research has revealed that although the relationship between healthy eating, physical fitness, and cognitive function are all intertwined, there are absolutely a number of foods that have been proven to improve brain function, focus, and clarity. Incorporate some of these delightful treats into your regular diet to enjoy increased protection against cognitive decline.


picture of walnuts

This delicious snack is jam-packed with nutrients that are both great for your heart and anti-inflammatory. Additionally, walnuts are the only noteworthy nut source of alpha linolenic acid, meaning they encourage improved blood flow. What does that matter? The better your blood flows, the more oxygen is delivered efficiently to your brain. A paper presented at the 2010 International Conference on Alzheimer’s also noted that mice afflicted with the ailment that were fed a diet of walnuts enjoyed better memory and motor skills.


image of berries

The connection between eating berries and enjoying a healthy brain has long been accepted by the scientific community thanks to a considerable history of animal studies which reveal exactly that. Recently, a study in the Annals of Neurology reaffirmed this belief when it concluded that a berry-heavy diet led to slower mental decline in memory and focus within middle-aged women.


picture of coffee

The stimulant found in coffee, caffein, sharpens mental acuity – hence the beverage’s extreme popularity as a morning treat. We drink as much as 120,000 tons of coffee annually. However, beyond the way in which coffee wakes you up and gets your mind running on all cylinders, it has also been found to have other positive impacts for your brain. Coffee is rich in antioxidants which can keep your brain healthy. It also may help diminish the prominence of depression in women, according to recent research.

Healthy eating is a crucial habit for every individual to build for themselves. As you craft your own best practices for what you choose to consume, be sure to consider the foods that can keep your mind sharp, both today and in the long term.

Stay Sharp: 3 Easy Tips to Build a Better Brain

Image of Healthy Brain FunctionImproving cognitive function can seem, at best, to be an ambiguous process. At worst, the endeavor can seem a sisyphean task. However, wellbeing (both physical and mental) should be at the forefront of your mind. The old adage claims that, “time is no man’s friend,” but it certainly need not be your enemy. Being mindful about the way in which you maintain your health, especially as your grow, can completely transform your quality of life, as well as empower you to embrace its milestones. Developing the proper set of habits seems to indicate not just obvious mental and emotional benefits, but also potentially improves your cognitive function. Although the scientific community may still be debating the finer points of some of these habits, adopting a holistic mentality to your mental wellness can ensure that you surely stand to benefit from them in one way or another.

Physical Activity

An ever-increasing portfolio of research indicates that physical activity improves brain health and cognition. A team from the Boston University School of Medicine concluded that hormones released during regular exercise positively impacted blood hormone levels which in turn have positive impact on memory function. A different study in 2013, the combined effort of researchers from Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber, show that the molecule irisin, which is released during endurance exercise, not only improves cognitive function but protects against mental degeneration. Higher level of irisin is also known to impact learning and memory function.

Researchers have even noted the connection in children. A study from Finland indicated that first grade students with higher cardiovascular fitness and motor skills also performed better in reading and arithmetic assessments. In short, better fitness often equates to higher cognitive function.

Learn New Things

It may seem to be little more than a vapid, comical interjection in the majority of the conversation in which you find it, but, when it comes to cognitive function, studies indeed indicate that “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” Challenging yourself to learn new and demanding skills has been found to be beneficial to people looking to preserve or improve their brain health. However, activities with which you are already expertly acquainted, regardless of their complexity, simply will not cut it. Research show that if you are inside of your comfort zone, you are very likely outside of your enhancement or growth zone.

Similarly, curiosity and creativity can be key in stimulating not just cognitive function, but also success. A study out of Michigan State University discovered that children who participated in arts and crafts outperformed their peers in innovation, patents, and entrepreneurship in adulthood. Brain-stimulating activities like reading books or musical training also offer great benefits. Studying music, especially as a child, increases plasticity in the brain and  improves the connectivity of different brain regions, positively altering the ability of the mind to interpret and integrate a variety of sensory data. Reading and writing at any age has been shown to preserve memory. Even reading fiction can be a big help!

Put Your Brain First

Although Western culture has not traditionally extolled the virtues of mindfulness meditation, studies do show that regularly practicing such a skill does measurably change the brain and reduce stress, which in term may slow the onset or progression of cognitive disorders. The same ability to reduce chronic stress and decrease cortisol levels has been seen in yoga.

Chronic stress and the associated high levels of cortisol can be very detrimental to the the health of your brain. Stress triggers long-term changes in the wiring of your mind, which may well explain why individuals exposed to consistent and extremely high levels of stress as children are so prone to mental problems like mood disorders or learning disorders later in their lives. Cortisol, which is sometimes colloquially called “the stress hormone” can cement the connections between the hippocampus and amygdala so that your mind becomes overly eager to enter the fight-or-flight mentality. That inflexible and unwavering connection can in turn cause an excess of myelin or “white matter” in the brain, more than your mind can trim through its regular neural pruning in order to remain as efficient and functional as possible.

The key to building these great habits is consistency. Remaining committed to building a great routine may be challenging, but remember the excellent benefits the right lifestyle can have on your cognitive function, even later in life. Find the ways to incorporate these tips that best suits you, and stick with it. Your brain will thank you.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Jerry Daskoski

Behavioral therapy originated from American “behaviorism. The assumption is that human behavior is learned and can be unlearned or learned anew. Behavioral therapy figures out weather certain behavioral patterns  add definition to your life, such as making it complicated or intensifying your issues.  In the second step one should be working on changing these behavioral habits.

For example, those who have developed a significant level of depression often withdraw from their hobbies. This allows them to experiences a level of unhappiness or isolation. Cognitive therapy helps to identify this mechanism and find ways to become active.

For anxiety disorder, behavioral therapy includes various learning methods. For example, you can learn to reduce anxiety with mindfulness and being more aware of your surroundings. When doing tis, you are now concentrating on other areas instead of bringing attention to your anxiety.

Harmful Thoughts VS. Un-harmful Thoughts

Harmful habits can ruin ones image of them self.

For example: (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072481/)

Reaction Harmful Neutral
Thoughts “He ignored me – he doesn’t like me anymore.”  “He didn’t notice me – maybe he doesn’t feel well. I should give him a call and find out how he is doing.”
Feelings Someone who thinks like this feels down, sad and rejected. These thought patterns do not cause any negative feelings.
Behavior The consequence of this thought is to avoid this person in the future, although the assumption could be completely false. This thought is a prompt to get back in touch with the person to find out if everything is all right.

How does cognitive behavioral therapy differ from other psychotherapies?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is defines as a problem -oriented strategy. its primary focus is on current problems and finding solutions for them. Unlike psychoanalysis for example, it does not deal with the past. Cognitive behavioral therapy is much more concerned with dealing with current problems. The most important thing is helping people to help themselves.


The Efficacy of Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); it’s a therapeutic approach that is able to be applied to a wide selection of problems, making it a very popular course of treatment for issues such as anxiety disorders, general stress, substance abuse and addiction, and eating disorders.

Developed by Aaron Beck, CBT is defined as the expansion of the scope of behavior therapy to include cognition and research on human information processing, and it includes various techniques. Some argue cognitive therapy’s efficacy lies in the treatments open-endedness, as the course of the therapy is catered to the individual.

Jerry Daskoski

One psychotherapy technique it emphasizes, called collaborative empiricism, involves challenging negative cognitive distortions, which is a procedure in which the therapist conjures up a hypothesis and then assists the patient in testing the validity of that hypothesis.

Rational-emotive therapy, another CBT technique developed by Albert Ellis, is used as a treatment for anxiety and depression, and was designed to challenge irrational beliefs about oneself and the world.

Perhaps the most crucial component of CBT treatment is something called the transference relationship. It is the way in which the patient behaves toward the therapist in which it is believed to reflect early primary relationships. This is used to increase patients ability to experience themselves and other people in a more realistic and integrated way.

Because CBT caters to those receiving treatment on an individual-level, the success of the transference relationship is so important because, essentially, the client and clinician are creating the treatment path together.

Since cognitive therapy can be applied to problems on such a broad spectrum, it’s arguably the most studied course of treatment. Evidence is strong for the efficacy of CBT, specifically in treating anxiety disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Like most, if not all, psychotherapy treatments, more extensive literature and research is necessary to gaining a stronger grasp on it’s efficacy, despite the enormous evidence base pointing to CBT’s success. However, CBT comes at a cost, a high one, and thus it has not been adopted as a first-line intervention for mental disorders for many countries, including many developed nations.