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13 Surprising Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp

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You exercise daily, working hard to keep your muscles strong, protect your heart, and stave off health conditions. But how often do you look for ways to keep your brain sharp? If you are like most people, you probably don’t think much about your brain health until it’s too late and you are facing the sobering reality of cognitive decline. 

The truth is, brain atrophy isn’t inevitable. Alzheimer’s, dementia, and neurodegenerative disorders aren’t guaranteed. Performing brain maintenance now can keep your mental gears well-oiled as you age and allow you to live a vibrant life. Here’s how to achieve your 100 Year Heart and your 100 Year Brain.

13 ways to improve brain function

Protect your heart

Like most systems in the body, the health of your brain is dependent on the health of your heart. Prioritize your heart by living a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly, avoiding toxins, and listening to your body. 

Heart-related conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, AFib, and abnormal cholesterol levels can all lead to issues that directly harm the brain, such as stroke and heart failure.

When your heart is not pumping oxygenated blood to your brain effectively, the heart-brain link is disrupted, and your risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia increases. 

Before you can begin improving your brain health, you must first take care of your heart. 

Spend time with people

Being around your loved ones activates reward centers in your brain that boost your mental health and ward off stress, anxiety, depression, and dementia. Reach out to friends and family, schedule times to get together, and seek out those essential human connections.

Limit alcohol

Though a glass of wine every once in a while is fine (and can improve cognitive function), drinking in excess can be a fast track to mental decline. Protect your brain by limiting alcohol consumption.

Meditate

Spend time in quiet reflection, focusing on your breathing and letting the day’s stressors fall away. This solitary time of self-reflection gives your brain a chance to slow down and can decrease brain inflammation that contributes to mental decline. 

Prioritize sleep

Make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Even on the weekends, when you don’t have to get up for work, try to go to bed and get up at the same time. Allowing your body to get into a sleep routine will help regulate melatonin production and improve sleep quality. 

Stop using blue-light-emitting electronics at least a few hours before bed and create a cool, dark sleep environment. Quality rest allows your body to clear toxins from the brain, encode memories for long-term retention, and improve cognitive performance. 

Play games

Puzzles and tabletop games aren’t just for the very old or young. Embrace the cognitive-boosting power of chess, a crossword puzzle, or a number puzzle like sudoku. Games such as these have been shown to boost mental clarity, improve brain function, and protect against cognitive decline. 

Pick up a new instrument

It is never too late to learn something new. Download an online class or watch YouTube videos to help you pick up a simple instrument like the ukelele. Studies have shown that playing a musical instrument can strengthen connections between different brain areas and protect grey matter associated with memories, emotions, and movement. 

Heal your gut

The gut and the brain are best friends — sharing secrets and gossipping about what is going on in your body. This communication, known as the gut-brain axis (GBA), is bidirectional communication between the central nervous system and the intestines. 

When your gut isn’t healthy and balanced, nothing in your body is — including your brain. Studies have connected poor gut health to anxiety, depression, and cognition decline. 

Support your gut microbiome and keep your brain sharp by eating probiotic-rich foods such as sauerkraut, avoiding inflammatory foods, and considering taking a probiotic supplement. 

Listen to music

While playing an instrument can increase coordination and stave off cognitive decline, listening to music supports mood, creates new pathways in the brain, and even restores long-forgotten memories associated with a particular song. 

Eat brain-supportive foods

These delicious antioxidant-rich foods are full of essential nutrients that keep your brain functioning smoothly and boost memory capacity. Remember, always eat organic!

While adding these heart and brain-healthy foods to your diet is a significant step, sometimes what you don’t eat is even more critical. Cut out processed foods full of refined sugar, which can contribute to brain fog, mental decline, and mood swings. 

Get moving

Exercise is naturally protective for the brain, contributing to memory retention, improving emotional response, and warding off Alzheimer’s. Studies even suggest that exercise increases the levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which can lead to cognitive improvement and mental abilities. 

Do what you love and whatever suits your physical fitness level. Try to aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intense physical activity each day. Exercising outdoors is always the best option as it boosts your vitamin D levels, helps regulate sleep, and provides stress-reducing benefits. 

Try these new ways to get moving and get your brain engaged. 

  • Try dancing: We get it; not everyone is a fan of letting loose on the dance floor. But did you know that releasing your inhibitions through physical expression could improve your brain? Increase memory and cognitive speed by enrolling in a dance class, putting on some music and dancing around your house, or trying an exercise dance class like Zumba. 
  • Plant a garden: Looking after a garden is physically and mentally rewarding. Plant flowers, vegetables, herbs, or anything else that catches your interest and suits your climate. Gardening can improve concentration, mood, mental clarity, and brain health. 
  • Take up yoga or tai chi: It’s no secret that stress contributes to mental decline. Utilize the power of challenging yet relaxing exercises such as yoga or tai chi to protect the brain from the harmful effects of stress. Recenter your mental health, challenge your physical capabilities, and utilize the healing power of deep breathing to ward off neurodegenerative decline and keep your brain sharp.

Try something new

Taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill protects your brain in unique and interesting ways. Learning new things changes your brain and keeps it sharp — preventing mental degradation, improving memory, and activating motor skills.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Archery
  • Horseback riding
  • Car repair
  • Woodworking
  • Drawing
  • Writing
  • Painting
  • Pottery
  • DIY projects
  • Knitting or crocheting
  • Cooking 
  • Baking
  • Photography
  • Sewing

Learn a language

Try a language app like Duolingo to learn a few new vocabulary words each day. The cognitive benefits of bilingualism are well-researched. If you already speak a second language, make sure to practice regularly to retain the skill and sharpen your brain.

Next steps

Your brain allows you to love, form memories, learn, breathe, and think. Isn’t it time to give it a little bit of attention? Protect this hard-working organ by incorporating these easy brain-healthy habits into your life. If you’re concerned about cognitive decline or want further support, consider our Neural Zoomer Plus test. This panel offers an expanded test to detect 48 of the most common autoantibodies associated with neurological autoimmunity and cognitive decline and includes a review with a Certified Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well 


Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD

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About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

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About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

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Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

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Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

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Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

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Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.