Creative Organic Green ~ Mini Tech Detox

OUR BODIES PHYSIOLOGICALLY DEPEND ON ELECTRICAL CURRENTS—our nervous and cardiac systems being the core systems of course that rely on tiny electrical impulses. Even though you can’t feel it, our modern world is increasingly exposing us to larger and larger volumes of electromagnetic fields (EMF), emitted through the use of electricity and particularly from increasing dependency on “wireless” technology (not only are we dependent in terms of modern-day conveniences, but our entertainment often revolves around it too). The advent of smart, connected homes, the use of wireless routers in every home, or simply the simple act of plugging things into an electrical outlet, even things like lamps, means that our exposure is 24-7.

In 2011, the WHO classified cellphones as a possible carcinogen and have launched an International EMF program—after years of research, the results are still inconclusive but there is enough cause for concern that limits on exposure have been suggested. We know that EMF affects our body, placing stress on our systems as the electrical “flow” within our bodies becomes agitated and disturbed. The trouble is that technology has evolved faster than the research, and we don’t truly know what the long-term effects of exposure are. But we suspect… and it’s not very encouraging. Chronic conditions such as fatigue, headaches, adrenal fatigue or sympathetic system hyper-drive (fight or flight stress response) are rampant, and tumors located in the vicinity of where people hold their cell phones have increased. And nearly everyone I know experiences sleep problems—a physiological function that seems to be heavily affected by EMF—and sleep is when your body does most of its regenerative work.

In my own life, I have found that as I remove toxins of all kinds from my life I become more sensitive to them as my body has lowered it’s ‘tolerance’ levels. It’s a positive thing as I can detect pollutants in my immediate environment really easily, but EMF has been a form of pollution I had not yet tackled until now. It’s a tricky field, as it operates on a level we cannot directly feel, and the symptoms can be attributed to any number of things. A quick internet search of EMF-blocking products yields results that can feel, shall we say, dubious. It’s left me questioning how best to deal with the issue, and the easiest most immediate solution has been to make massive efforts to reduce my personal exposure by changing my habits (and I say massive because I truly think we’re addicted to our devices and modern conveniences—it’s taken a lot of conscious effort to leave mine alone).

The following are some super quick, very simple changes you can make in your own home to reduce how much EMF you’re exposing yourself to (and your kids too, whose delicate systems have shown to be even more sensitive).

  1. Replace your cordless phone with an old-school plug-in. The reason this is important is that cordless phones, like cell phones, are constantly emitting a signal to the “home base” within the confines of your own home. A bonus is that you’ll never have to hunt for the handset in the couch cushions again.
  2. Make calls from a landline whenever possible (such as when you are at home or at work).
  3. Don’t charge your phone (or keep any wireless electronics) in your bedroom, and DON’T use your phone as an alarm clock—get a battery-operated one (and then use rechargeable!).
  4. Don’t keep your cell phone on your body all day long (especially in your pocket).
  5. Create a “drop spot” in your home, where you automatically place your phone (and maybe keys, etc.) when you get home. Make a conscious effort to leave it there and resist the urge to check it for messages or updates too frequently.
  6. Don’t use your laptop on your lap, and even avoid if you can using an iPad resting against your body for too long.
  7. Use hard-wired internet connections for desktop computers at home and at work.
  8. Turn your devices off at night.
  9. Unplug your modem/wifi at night. If this sounds too inconvenient for you, you can purchase power bars with built-in timers so that they will shut off and turn back on automatically at the time of your choosing, say 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  10. Don’t make checking your device and browsing Facebook etc. the first thing you do in the morning. Give your body time to wake up and use the time for something different instead (family time, meditation, breathwork, yoga, etc.).
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What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

The human body uses inflammation to help fight illness and also protect areas from further harm. In most cases, inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process.

However, some medical conditions cause faulty inflammatory responses. These are called chronic inflammatory diseases.

One of the best measures a person can take to prevent or reduce inflammation is to try an anti-inflammatory diet. An anti-inflammatory diet involves eating certain foods and avoiding others in order to minimize the symptoms of chronic inflammatory diseases.

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

vegan stew with chickpeas and vegetables, including tomatoes, broccoli, and peppers.

The anti-inflammatory diet includes nutrient-dense plant foods and avoids processed foods and meats.

An anti-inflammatory diet consists of foods that reduce inflammatory responses. This diet involves replacing sugary, refined foods with whole, nutrient-rich foods.

An anti-inflammatory diet also contains increased amounts of antioxidants, which are reactive molecules in food that reduce the number of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules in the body that may damage cells and increase the risk of certain diseases.

Many popular diets already follow anti-inflammatory principles. For example, the Mediterranean diet contains fish, whole grains, and fats that are good for the heart. Research has shown that this diet can reduce the effects of inflammation on the cardiovascular system.

What conditions can an anti-inflammatory diet help?

Doctors, dietitians, and naturopaths recommend anti-inflammatory diets as a complementary therapy for many conditions that are worsened by chronic inflammation.

An anti-inflammatory diet can help many conditions, including:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • psoriasis
  • asthma
  • eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • colitis
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • metabolic syndrome
  • heart disease
  • lupus
  • Hashimoto’s disease

Additionally, eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce the risk of certain cancers, including colorectal cancer.

Foods to eat

Cherries and blueberries piled up.

Cherries and blueberries contain antioxidants, which may help to ease inflammation.

Good choices for a person following an anti-inflammatory diet include the following:

  • dark leafy greens, including kale and spinach
  • blueberries, blackberries, and cherries
  • dark red grapes
  • nutrition-dense vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower
  • beans and lentils
  • green tea
  • red wine, in moderation
  • avocado and coconut
  • olives
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and almonds
  • cold water fish, including salmon and sardines
  • turmeric and cinnamon
  • dark chocolate
  • spices and herbs

Foods to avoid

The main foods that people following an anti-inflammatory diet should avoid include:

  • processed meats
  • sugary drinks
  • trans fats, found in fried foods
  • white bread
  • white pasta
  • gluten
  • soybean oil and vegetable oil
  • processed snack foods, such as chips and crackers
  • desserts, such as cookies, candy, and ice cream
  • excess alcohol
  • too many carbohydrates

Some people find that foods in the nightshades family, such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes, can trigger flares in some inflammatory diseases. There is limited evidence of this, but a person can try cutting nightshades from the diet for 2–3 weeks to see if their symptoms improve.

There is some evidence that suggests a high-carbohydrate diet, even when the carbs are healthful, may promote inflammation. Because of this, many people on an anti-inflammatory diet choose to reduce their carbohydrate intake.

Can a vegetarian diet reduce inflammation?

People considering an anti-inflammatory diet may also want to consider eliminating meat in favor of vegetarian protein sources or fatty fish.

Research suggests that people following a vegetarian diet have higher levels of plasma AA, a marker of overall health that is associated with lower levels of inflammation and heart disease.

A 2017 study found that eating animal products increased the risk of systemic inflammation, while another study suggests that reduced inflammation is one of the key benefits of a vegan diet.

Anti-inflammatory diet tips

Anti-inflammatory diets may be a big adjustment for people who tend to eat different kinds of food.

There are several things a person can do to make the transition to an anti-inflammatory diet easier, including:

  • eating a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • reducing the amount of fast food eaten
  • eliminating soda and sugary beverages
  • planning shopping lists to ensure healthful meals and snacks are on hand
  • carrying small anti-inflammatory snacks while on the go
  • drinking more water
  • staying within the daily calorie requirements
  • adding supplements, such as omega-3 and turmeric, to the diet
  • exercising regularly
  • getting the proper amount of sleep

What is inflammation?

Woman with asthma using inhaler outside

Conditions such as asthma, diabetes, arthritis, and psoriasis may be managed with an anti-inflammatory diet.

Inflammation is the body’s response to illnesses including infections or injuries. The body’s immune system sends an increased amount of white blood cells to the area fighting off the infection or injury.

Inflammation is not usually a bad thing — it is just the body trying to protect itself from further injury or illness by increasing the immune response in the area being threatened by bacteria or injury.

However, there are several chronic inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, psoriasis, and asthma that can cause the immune system to go into overdrive and attack healthy tissues.

In addition to taking any prescribed medications, a person with an inflammatory disease can try to reduce inflammation by making changes to their diet.

Also,

Anti-inflammatory diets promote a reduction in inflammation. A person may be able to reduce their body’s inflammatory response by implementing these healthful dietary changes.

Reducing inflammation may help a person feel more comfortable by alleviating some symptoms of inflammation.

Also, it may help the person avoid some of the potential health problems that chronic inflammation can cause or decrease the need for medication.

A dietitian can help a person develop a dietary plan to tackle a chronic inflammatory condition.

What is the AIP Diet?

The autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet is designed to help reduce inflammation in the body to relieve symptoms of autoimmune disorders. But what can you eat on this diet and what evidence is there of the benefits?

An autoimmune disease is any condition where a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks and damages its own bodily tissues. Inflammation is a common feature of an autoimmune disease. Examples include psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.

This article explores what the AIP diet is and what foods a person can and cannot eat if they want to follow the diet. It also considers the scientific evidence available to support the effectiveness of the AIP diet in the management and treatment of autoimmune diseases.

What is the AIP diet?

vegetarian sweet potato curry.

The AIP diet is a version of the Paleo diet, designed to help treat autoimmune diseases.

Also known as the paleo autoimmune protocol, the AIP diet is a much stricter version of the Paleo diet (which is based on meat, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds).

It advises eliminating foods that may cause inflammation in the gut and eat nutrient-rich foods.

The AIP diet is based on a belief that autoimmune conditions are caused by something called a “leaky gut”, which is medically now referred to as altered intestinal permeability.

The theory is that small holes in the gut cause food to leak into the body. This is thought to cause the immune system to overreact and start attacking bodily tissues in error.

By eating nutrient-rich foods and avoiding inflammatory ones, the AIP diet aims to heal any holes in the gut. This is thought to help:

  • reset the immune system
  • prevent the autoimmune response
  • reduce symptoms of autoimmune diseases
  • prevent the occurrence of secondary autoimmune diseases

People who do the AIP diet should follow it strictly for a few weeks and then slowly reintroduce foods that they have avoided.

The idea is to see if there is a reaction when the food is reintroduced. If there is a reaction, the suggestion is that a person should exclude this food from their diet long-term.

Foods to eat on the AIP diet

These include:

  • meat and fish, preferably not factory raised
  • vegetables (but not nightshades, such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes)
  • sweet potatoes
  • fruit (in small quantities)
  • coconut milk
  • avocado, olive, and coconut oil
  • dairy-free fermented foods, such as kombucha, kefir made with coconut milk, sauerkraut, and kimchi
  • honey or maple syrup (but only to be used occasionally, in small quantities)
  • fresh non-seed herbs, such as basil, mint, and oregano
  • green tea and non-seed herbal teas
  • bone broth
  • vinegars, such as apple cider and balsamic

Foods to avoid on the AIP diet

These include:

  • all grains, such as oats, rice, and wheat
  • all dairy
  • eggs
  • legumes, such as beans and peanuts
  • nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes)
  • all sugars, including sugar replacements (except for occasional use of honey)
  • butter and ghee
  • all oils (except for avocado, coconut, and olive)
  • food additives
  • alcohol

Recipes and snack options

Here are some AIP meal plans to get started.

Breakfast

Green smoothies in glasses on wooden chopping board, with spinach leaves, banana, and avocado.

A green smoothie can be nutritionally dense, and filling enough to replace a small meal.

This AIP smoothie recipe, from Paleo Mum, is a tasty breakfast meal replacement:

  • ½ banana
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 cup vegetable juice
  • 2-3 cups fresh leafy greens (for example, spinach and kale)
  • 1-2 scoops AIP-friendly (collagen) protein powder

Blend all the ingredients except for the protein powder in a food processor for up to 2 minutes. Add the protein powder and pulse the food processor to blend it in.

Lunch

This soup recipe from AIP Lifestyle is a simple and tasty idea for lunch that a person can make in advance:

  • 3 cups of fresh, washed baby arugula
  • 2 ½ cups of bone broth
  • 2 cups steamed parsnips
  • 1 cup roasted spring onions
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • pinch of salt

After heating the bone broth in a pan and steaming the parsnips, add all the ingredients into a food processor and blend.

Dinner

This quick and easy AIP chicken dinner idea is inspired by Eat Something Delicious:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 lb. frozen cubed sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 ¾ AIP-friendly herb blend (such as garlic and herbs)
  • 1 lb. frozen broccoli

Arrange the frozen vegetables and chicken in a baking tray and season with the oil, salt, and herb blend.

Cover the tray with foil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and roast in the oven for a further 20 minutes, or so.

Carob chip bars for snacking

This tasty snack idea is from Angel Slice:

  • 2 large ripe plantains
  • ½ pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp. tigernut flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tbsp. coconut butter
  • ¼ coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • ¼ carob chips

Blend all ingredients except for carob chips in a food processor. Pour into a greased loaf pan and add in the carob chips. Bake for up to 50 minutes. The bars can be served with whipped coconut cream on top as an addition.

Does the AIP diet work?

The logic behind the AIP diet is that avoiding gut-irritating foods and eating nutrient-rich ones will reduce inflammation and heal any holes in the gut.

This is believed to reduce or prevent the immune system from attacking bodily tissues. In this way, the AIP diet aims to reduce the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. But what evidence is there that it works?

The link between gut health and autoimmune disease

3D model of gut and digestive system in human body.

Gut health may affect inflammatory diseases. The AIP diet attempts to treat such diseases with a specific diet.

There is some scientific evidence to support the link between gut health and inflammatory disease.

2012 study suggested bacterial growth in the gut might be linked to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

This study in 2014 notes that the gut wall is maintained by networks of proteins. It explains that inflammation affects how well the gut wall functions. It also notes that food allergies can make the gut wall more porous.

The study concludes that problems with the gut wall are associated with autoimmune diseases. This goes some way to support the idea of the “leaky gut” proposed by supporters of the AIP diet.

However, the study adds that more research is needed to confirm that gut wall dysfunction is a primary risk factor in the development of inflammatory disease.

The AIP diet and autoimmune disease symptom reduction

2017 study found that eliminating certain foods as part of the AIP diet can improve symptoms of the autoimmune disease inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

This is one of the first clinical studies into the effectiveness of AIP diet. Further studies are required to support claims that it can reduce symptoms of other autoimmune diseases.

Also,

Research suggests that autoimmune diseases may be linked to how porous the gut wall may be.

It follows that a diet that promotes gut health may be beneficial for those with autoimmune diseases. There is evidence that one such regime, the AIP diet, may reduce symptoms of the autoimmune disease IBD.

More research is needed to say with certainty that the AIP diet can improve symptoms of all autoimmune diseases. However, the AIP diet is a healthful diet that people with autoimmune diseases may find beneficial. This diet may also reduce the need for certain medications or high dosages.

Anyone with an autoimmune disease looking to try the AIP diet should discuss this with their doctor.

Boost Concentration: Life Hack, 5 Ways To Improve Concentration

In the information overload age, being able to focus and keep your attention on the task at hand can be a struggle. We have compiled some concentration-boosting and distraction-fighting techniques to fire up your capacity to concentrate.
man typing at a computer

Concentrating can sometimes be a challenge, but steps can be taken to enhance your ability to concentrate.

On an average day, Americans are bombarded with an estimated 34 gigabytes of information and 100,500 words. Meanwhile, office workers are interrupted every 11 minutes, while it takes 25 minutes, on average, to get back to the task they were working on before the interruption. It is , therefore, o surprise that our ability to focus is withering due to these endless distractions.

Maintaining attention allows us to construct our internal world in such a way that the thoughts, motivations, and emotions that are the most relevant to our goals will have priority in our brains.

The ability to sustain attention begins at an early age and contributes to success throughout people’s lives. Several factors during childhood and adolescence can enhance or impair the development of skills that enable you to focus for extended periods.

Infants look to their parents for guidance on where to focus their attention, while preschoolers who can concentrate and persist on a task are 50 percent more likely to complete college.

Research has indicated that preschoolers and kindergartners who are farsighted often have a hard time paying attention, which could increase their risk of slipping behind in school.

In adolescents, binge drinking is thought to interrupt normal brain growth in the frontal brain areas that are linked to high-level thoughts, including organization and planning. Heavy alcohol use may, therefore, affect a teenager’s ability to perform in school and sports, and these effects could be long-lasting.

Regardless of upbringing or social and work-based distractions, there are some steps that you can take to harness your brain at its best and channel your focus to complete tasks. Here are Medical News Today‘s tactics to help you improve your concentration quickly and effectively.

1. Get regular ‘green time’

A dose of nature could be just what the doctor ordered when trying to improve your attention span and ability to concentrate.

office with plants

Add some greenery to your office to increase concentration levels in the workplace.

Research suggests that exposure to natural surroundings, including green spaces, may prove beneficial for children’s brain development.

In a study, children aged 4–5 to 7 years of age with more green space around their homes scored better in attention tests. These results underline the importance of expanding green areas in cities to support children’s health and brain development.

Increased concentration from green exposure does not stop during childhood. Research has demonstrated that glancing at greenery can also markedly boost concentration levels and productivity in college and the workplace.

Students were asked to conduct a mundane task and given a 40-second break midway through to view either a bare concrete roof or a flowering meadow green roof. Individuals who glanced at the meadow scene made considerably fewer errors and exhibited superior concentration levels on the remaining half of the task than those who observed the concrete scene.

Another study showed that enriching a bare office with plants increased the productivity of workers by 15 percent. The presence of greenery increased workplace satisfaction perceived air quality and reported levels of concentration.

The researcher’s analysis details that plants may be beneficial because a green office promotes employees’ work engagement by making them more cognitively, emotionally, and physically involved in their work.

You may not have the luxury of a rooftop garden or an office laden with plants, but spending time outside someplace green, or eating your lunch in the park each day, could make a significant difference to your concentration.

2. Take a break

If you are lucky enough to have high working memory capacity, then you should have no problem ignoring distractions and staying focused on tasks. But for the rest of us, tuning out background distractions can be challenging.

Evidence suggests that taking a break from the following distractions could enhance your ability to concentrate.

Email

group of people using devices

Take a vacation from email, cell phone notifications, and social media to boost concentration.

Controlling the times you log in to email — work or personal — and batching messages, among other strategies, could help to boost on-the-job productivity.

study found that people who read emails throughout the day switched screen twice as often and were in an ongoing state of high alert with a constant heart rate. When email was removed from these people for 5 days, their heart rate returned to a natural, variable one.

The authors concluded that taking an email vacation significantly decreases stress and improves concentration and focus.

Cell phone notifications

Whether you are alerted to text or an incoming call by an alarm, vibration, or trendy ringtone, a cell phone notification can distract you enough to impair your ability to concentrate on a task.

In fact, the distraction caused by a notification is just as off-putting as using your cell phone to make calls or send a text message, according to research. A team discovered that while notifications are short in duration, they tend to trigger task-irrelevant thoughts or mind wandering that damages task performance.

The team explained that task performance takes a hit because humans have a limited capacity for attention that needs to be split between tasks. The researchers also emphasized that just being aware of a missed text or call can have the same effect.

If you need to stay on track and focused, it might be worth either turning off your cell phone, setting it to silent, or putting it away somewhere that you cannot see it.

Social media

The curiosity of checking personal social media accounts can often be overwhelming, but research indicates that there are negative consequences when using social media during office hours.

Approximately 2.8 billion people worldwide use social media, and many of those use social media for personal purpose while at work. Using social media during working hours has been revealed to have an adverse effect on self-reported work performance and concentration, and the well-being of the organization.

Fighting the urge to use social media while you need to concentrate may help to improve your productivity and concentration.

Work breaks

Other research demonstrates how to take the best type of break to boost energy, motivation, and concentration. Researchers recommend taking:

  • a mid-morning break to replenish concentration
  • better breaks by doing something you enjoy, which should make your break more restful, provide better recovery, and help you to come back to worked focused
  • frequent short breaks to facilitate recovery

Taking breaks earlier in the day and doing preferred activities lead to better health, job satisfaction, and revival of energy, motivation, and concentration. Workers also experienced fewer headaches, eyestrain, and lower back pain after their break.

3. Rethink your environment

Our environment plays a significant role in how well we are able to concentrate. It is known that by decluttering your home or tidying your desk, your mind also feels more orderly, free, and able to think more clearly.

You can make changes to your environment so that it is favorable for sustaining concentration.

desk with plants and colorful books

Design your own work area to improve your productivity.

Design your own workspace. Whether you have full control over the design of your workspace or can embellish your desk with just a few personal items, having control over our work environment can help to improve productivity.

study compared people who completed a series of tasks in a bare and functional office space, an office decorated with plants and pictures, and an office in which the individual designed the space.

People who were in a space with plants and pictures were 17 percent more productive than those in bare office, while those who designed their own spaces were 32 percent more productive than the workers at a functional desk.

Listen to Baroque classical music. In a study of radiologist’s work lives, it was found that listening to Baroque classical music improved mood and job satisfaction and potentially improved diagnostic efficiency, accuracy, and productivity.

Play natural sounds. If Baroque music is not your thing, playing natural sounds could also benefit concentration. Researchers revealed that playing sounds from nature in the office, such as flowing water, could enhance cognitive abilities and optimize the ability to concentrate.

Inhale rosemary aroma. Research has suggested that exposure to rosemary aroma may improve speed and accuracy of cognitive performance.

4. Try brain training

Problem-solving exercises, brain training methods, and even video games could all have a positive, negative effect, or no effect at all on concentration, depending on which study you read.

person completing a crossword

Frequently doing crosswords could help to improve attention and concentration.

Recent research has indicated that people who often do word puzzles, such as crosswords, have better brain function later in life.

Researchers found direct relationships between how often people used word puzzles and the speed and accuracy of performance on tasks assessing reasoning, memory, and attention.

study has emphasized that it matters what type of brain training you are doing to improve memory and attention. Researchers compared two brain-training methods called “dual n-back” and “complex span.”

Participants who practiced dual n-back demonstrated a 30 percent improvement in their working memory — almost double the gains made by the complex span group.

Dual n-back is a memory sequence test wherein individuals have to remember a sequence of auditory and visual stimuli that are updated continuously.

Playing video games has been shown to cause changes in many regions of the brain. Researchers discovered that video game use altered the brain regions that are responsible for visuospatial skills and attention and made them work more efficiently.

5. Enhance your well-being

Physical activity, dietary choices, and weight are all factors that can contribute to how well you function and your concentration levels. For example, if you skip breakfast, it is unlikely that by lunchtime you will be able to perform tasks to the best of your ability due to hunger pangs.

Looking after your well-being, staying active, and eating concentration-boosting foods can all help toward improving concentration.

Concentration-enhancing foods

To increase your ability to concentrate, you might want to add some walnuts, avocados, and chocolate to your dietary repertoire.

avocados on a wooden board

Avocados may help to enhance cognitive measures, including memory and attention.

Walnuts may improve performance on tests for cognitive function, including those assessing information processing speed, memory, and concentration.

Avocados. Consuming one avocado every day may help improve cognitive function due to an upsurge in lutein levels in the eye and brain. Researchers uncovered that eating an avocado daily enhanced measures of cognitive skills, including processing speed, memory, and attention.

Chocolate — or specifically the cocoa bean — is rich in flavanols, which are compounds that have neuroprotective effects. Cocoa flavanols may help to improve cognitive processing speed, working memory, and attention when ingested for between 5 days and 3 months.

Exercise for concentration

Research has revealed that individuals who practice sport can perform better on cognitive tasks than those with bad physical health. When compared with a group who led a more sedentary lifestyle, the group who were in good physical condition performed better on tasks testing sustained attention.

study of older adults also specified that exercise improved brain function. All participants who exercised for between 75 minutes and 225 minutes per week showed elevated attention levels and an increased ability to focus.

Yoga may significantly improve energy levels and brain function. Investigators found that practicing Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation for 25 minutes per day boosted the regions of the brain associated with goal-directed behavior and allowed participants to focus more easily.

Check your weight

Research unearthed a connection between weight loss and improved memory and concentration.

Researchers say that factors such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes, which often result from obesity, might impair the brain. They suggest that as people get back to a healthy weight and the associated problems disappear, their cognitive issues will vanish, too.

If you have tried all the above and you are still wrestling with your inability to concentrate, grab yourself a large coffee. Caffeine has been shown to affect the alerting and executive control networks of the brain and has clear beneficial effects on concentration and attention.

Why 20 Minutes of Intense Exercise Can Boost Memory

A new study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience shows that vigorous exercise for a short period of time can boost the so-called interference memory. The research also points to a potential mechanism that may explain the findings.

brain and weights

Physical training also ‘trains’ your brain, new research shows.

Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, reveal what intense, 20-minute bouts of exercise can do for our memory.

The lead author of the new research is Jennifer Heisz, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University.

Heisz and her colleagues show that 20-minute daily sessions of interval training for 6 weeks dramatically improves performance in a so-called high-interference memory task.

The interference memory theory refers to the way in which information that we already know and have memorized may interfere with our ability to learn new material.

Good interference memory means that old knowledge works seamlessly with new information, enabling us, for example, to distinguish a new car from our old one, even if they are the same brand and model.

Intense exercise boosts interference memory

Heisz and her team recruited 95 young adult participants for their study. The participants engaged in one of the following three scenarios for a duration of 6 weeks: physical training plus cognitive training, physical training only, or no training at all.

The physical exercise sessions consisted of 20 daily minutes of interval training.

Participants were also asked to take part in a high-interference memory task, wherein they tried to recognize pairs of matching faces from an array of very similar images.

The team also measured their levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), as well as insulin-like growth factor-1, both before and after the interventions. BDNF promotes the survival, growth, and maintenance of neurons.

The researchers found that the group who had engaged in an intense physical activity performed much better at the high-interference memory task and had higher levels of BDNF compared with the control group.

Additionally, the combined training group had similar performance levels with the exercise-only group.

Findings particularly important for seniors

“These findings are especially important, as memory benefits were found from a relatively short intervention,” the authors emphasize.

“Improvements in this type of memory from exercise,” explains Heisz, “might help to explain the previously established link between aerobic exercise and better academic performance.”

The study also hints at a potential mechanism that may explain how exercise and brain training may work together to improve cognition.

“Taken together, the results suggest that the potential for synergistic effects of combining exercise and cognitive training may depend on individual differences in the availability of neurotrophic factors induced by exercise,” the authors conclude.

Heisz says that the findings may bring good news for older adults, in particular, saying, “At the other end of our lifespan, as we reach our senior years, we might expect to see even greater benefits in individuals with memory impairment brought on by conditions such as dementia.”

“One hypothesis is that we will see greater benefits for older adults given that this type of memory declines with age,” explains Heisz, whose team have already started to investigate this hypothesis.

“However,” she notes, “the availability of neurotrophic factors also declines with age and this may mean that we do not get the synergistic effects.”