Ways in Which to Help your Brain Function Better

Apr 13, 2021 | Teacher's Corner

Which is the most important organ in your body? You may think it is your heart, but although the heart is a vital organ, the most important organ is your brain. The brain and the spinal cord control the nervous system and together make up the most critical organ system in the human body. (1)

Your brain contains billions of neurons (nerve cells) arranged in networks that coordinate thought, emotion, behaviour, movement and sensation.

The Role of Exercise

According to Sheppard Chiropractic (2) and the DENT Neurologic Institute (3) exercise, and in particular aerobic exercise, is important for the brain, because it raises your heart rate and increases blood flow to your brain. Also, as your rate of breathing increases, more oxygen is pumped into your bloodstream resulting in more oxygen reaching your brain. This leads to the formation of new neurons, amongst others in those parts of your brain that control memory and thinking. The growth and development of neurons increase brain volume, and this cognitive reserve is believed to ward off a decline in brain health and cognitive abilities. In this way it thus helps to reduce the risk of dementia.


Exercise also promotes the production of neurotrophins, which are a family of proteins that govern the survival, development and functioning of neurons. More neurotrophins mean greater brain plasticity (a term that refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience), and this in its turn leads to better memory and learning. In addition to neurotrophins, exercise also results in an increase in neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine, which boost information processing and mood. (4)

How much exercise is required to improve memory? There are many contradictory thoughts on this matter as well as on the types of exercise that are beneficial for brain function. The standard recommendations advise 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. Such activities include workouts at the gym, walking, swimming, stair climbing, tennis, squash, or dancing. Also included are household chores such as floor mopping, raking leaves, mowing the lawn or any activity which raises the heart rate significantly. (5)

Foods Good for the Brain

There are a number of foods that may help improve brain function. (6) Fatty fish (such as salmon, trout and sardines) are considered one of the best brain foods. These types of fish contain Omega-3 fatty acids that are used by your brain to build cell membranes throughout the body and also in the brain. The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects of Omega-3s also help to protect your brain against a decline in thinking skills and improve memory and mood. For vegetarians, natural sources of Omega-3s include certain green vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. (7)  


Keeping a Healthy Diet During a Pandemic

Certain foods that are high in antioxidants are also beneficial for the brain. In addition, foods that contain certain vitamins (such as vitamins K, C, E, B6, B12 and folate (vitamin B9)) or minerals (such as magnesium, iron, zinc and copper) or other micronutrients (such as choline and L-theanine) and caffeine may help to support memory and brain development. Natural sources of these foods include blueberries, broccoli, turmeric, pumpkin seeds, nuts, oranges, eggs, dark chocolate, green tea and coffee. For more information refer to Jennings. (8)

Exercise for the Brain

There are many ways in which you can improve your mental sharpness and help your brain stay healthy, no matter what age you are. Doing certain brain exercises will help boost your memory, concentration and focus, which in turn help make daily tasks quicker and easier to do, and keep your brain sharp as you get older. (9)  


Keeping a Healthy Diet During a Pandemic

These brain exercises include activities such as the following:
• Do jigsaw puzzles
• Play card games
• Take up dancing, for example ballroom, salsa, tap, hip-hop or line dancing
• Do activities that simultaneously engage all five of your senses
• Learn a new skill
• Teach a skill to another person
• Try new ways of doing the same things
• Meditate on a daily basis
• Learn a new language
• Take up tai chi, or yoga or join an exercise class where you have to perform moves to music, such as a Fitness League class.



By working to improve your brain health, you can think, act and live well. It will help you to maintain your memory, understanding and communication (because it could reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease) and therefore improve your quality of life (10).