I was discussing the film Limitless with a friend of mine. The main character takes a pill that allows him to access 100% of his brain. His memory and efficiency is infallible. While accessing 100% of our brain power if an unfathomable reality with today’s medicine, we can improve our memory and mental function.
Last week, Rachel Ray discussed cognitive exercises and games with chief medical advisor to Pfizer, Freda Lewis-Hall. The exercises seemed simple enough. Instead of depending on a written list to get your groceries, participants were asked to memorize the items and double check the list only before getting into the checkout lane. As our age increases, however, our ability to store and recall things accurately decreases. According to Dr. Lewis-Hall, if a person can remember anywhere between 6-9 items on their list they are fall into the normal range.
Our nutrition also plays a part in our mental exercise. According to an article in the Time magazine online, red wine, green tea, and dark chocolate contain flavanols that “have [been] linked to the slowing or reversing of age-related cognitive decline.” In the study cited by Time, flavanols decrease the probability of dementia. It increases your responses to stimuli and improves your motor and reflex skills.
“Participants drinking daily higher levels of flavanol drinks had significantly higher overall cognitive scores than those participants drinking lower-levels.”
One glass of red wine and a handful of dark chocolate is said to increase cognitive skill. In fact, Dr. Franz H. Messerli, a cardiologist at St. Luke’s–Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, attributes Switzerland’s coco consumption to one of the factors aiding in them in being the country with the most Nobel Prize laureates.
He admits though, his findings are “hypothesis-generating only and have to be tested in a prospective randomized trials.” Still, wine and chocolate – the vices of many – have the potential to put the effect of father time on hold. Everything must be done in moderation, however, and it doesn’t negate the importance of exercise.
Here are 3 cognitive exercises for you to try at home:
- Use your non-dominant hand throughout the day to brush your teeth and hair, open doors, stir or eat food.
- Word games, such as crossword puzzles, are a great way to help to keep your memory in tiptop shape.
- This puzzle requires logical thinking and reasoning, patience and a small amount of time. Sudoku originated in Japan and has become quite popular in the United States. It is a puzzle which uses the numbers one through nine, nine columns, nine rows, and nine three-by-three grids. In order to complete the puzzle, the numbers one through nine are used to fill in all blocks of every column, row and grid. The caveat is this–the same number may not be used in the same space of any row, column or three-by-three grid. These puzzles are typically completed in 10 to 30 minutes. You can find sudoku puzzles online, in books and newspapers.