Dr. David Hopper has developed the Brain Fitness® Program of brain exercises that will improve mental performance, learning abilities, and help treat most neurological and mental disorders that affect attention, concentration, memory, and other cognitive functions. There are several levels of exercises available: Level I - Orientation, Level II - Attention, Level III - Memory, Level IV - Executive. Each level has many categories and types of exercises designed to improve all types of cognitive brain functions. Scientific research has shown that brain exercises lead to the secretion of neurotrophins in the brain which acts to keep the brain cells alive. They also lead to the stimulation of new brain cells and pathways to replace missing or damaged ones. Children, adolescents, adults, and elderly can greatly benefit from these exercises. For basic, daily ways to exercise and improve your brain, the following are some ideas:
1. Use it or lose it! Engage in board games, card games, speed chess, crossword puzzles, reading, stimulating conversations, word games, and other activities that require concentration. Don't watch too much TV and avoid relying on too much technology (e.g., remember phone numbers rather than using speed dial).
2. Mix it up. Switch hands. Form new brain circuits by trying to use your non-dominant hand for things like brushing your teeth, styling your hair, or cutting your food. Learn to write with your non-dominant hand which will be of much help with speech recovery if you have a stroke or injury to the brain that affects your speech centers. Mix up your routines. Watch TV from a different position every now and then. Rearrange the furniture. Take different routes to work or school. Every once in a while, do things in a different order such as meals, how you get ready for work or school in the morning, or even the way you shop at the grocery store. Add some new hobbies or change certain things with your hobby. Become more social. Join clubs, go to meetings, take classes, travel.
3. Stop making sense. Block a sense or two. Try getting dressed with your eyes closed. Learn to identify your keys by touch. Watch TV without the sound and try to figure out the plot. Taste foods while holding your nose and identify other characteristics of food without your sense of smell.
4. Avoid toxic agents. Cigarette smoke, alcohol, vaccines, mercury in dental fillings, air pollution, water pollution, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, etc.), and junk foods with rancid fats and additives are all known toxins to the brain.
5. Get exercise. Aerobic physical exercise, enough to break a sweat for 20-30 minutes five times a week helps by increasing blood flow to the brain.
6. Eat nutritious. Eat organic as much as possible. Eat fresh foods and avoid fried foods. Try to eat a rainbow a day in food colors (not artificial colors!). Avoid neurotoxins in food such as aspartame and MSG (monosodium glutamate). Watch out for trans fat and keep saturated fats to a minimum. Artificial colors, preservatives, and colors should be eliminated from your diet. Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and use onions, ginger, garlic, curry, and rosemary as much as possible for spices as they are powerful antioxidants. Berries for dessert are rich in antioxidants.
7. Maintain blood sugars. The brain burns more sugar than any other organ in the body. Avoid refined sugars. They cause severe up and down fluctuations in blood sugar levels which disrupt brain function. Eat a sensible, balanced meal with protein and complex carbohydrates to maintain a steady supply of blood sugar.
8. Avoid using drugs. ALL illegal drugs have proven to be dangerous to the brain. Prolonged use of prescription drugs can also increase your risk of dementia and other problems with the brain. Most psychotropic or psychoactive drugs (drugs which affect mental function) such as anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, sleeping pills, and anti-psychotic medications can lead to dementia and have been shown to cause brain damage in animals. Other drugs, such as pain killers, and barbiturates have also been linked to dementia and other brain problems such as encephalopathy. Fortunately, most of this brain damage can be reversed.
9. Manage stress. Learn to manage stress. Emotional stress kills brain cells! Identify things that are causing you unwanted stress and develop some form of strategy to overcome it. Brainstorm with others for ideas, read up on the subject, and seek professional help from the appropriate resources. Just the fact that you have identified the problem and are working on the solution reduces stress significantly.
10. Get proper sleep. Your brain needs sleep to rewire connections, recharge your batteries, consolidate memory, grow, heal, and many other vital functions! The more you impair your sleep, the worse your mental and physical health while you are awake. Many of the activities discussed above will help your sleep improve. Practice good sleep hygiene. You will find that all persons with poor mental or brain function have poor sleep and those who are mentally sharp and in better overall health sleep well at night and wake refreshed.
For more information about the Brain Fitness Program, please contact Dr. Hopper at (702) 437-1113 and, watch this site for an upcoming announcement regarding the release of a computer software game version of the Brain Fitness Program! Brain Fitness T-shirts are now available! See Store section for more details.