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Boost your brain and get ahead. With real scientific research and insights from Dr. Helena Popovic, one of our speakers at the upcoming Ascend days

Last week we had a preview of what is headed our way with the August Ascend Development days, with a free article from Ken Wright, a people management whiz and a prize winning author. Registrations are rolling in every week for Ascend so if you haven’t booked yet, do it now or risk missing out.

This week, we have a guest blog from Dr. Helena Popovic – a medical doctor specialising in lifestyle diseases and the learnings of the neuroplastic revolution.


There is no magic bullet or quick fix for anything in this life, despite the promises of endless advertising campaigns.

Our brain health is the result of an interplay of numerous physical, environmental, social, cultural, nutritional, emotional, psychological and educational factors!  

It is our consistent day to day choices and habits that determine our performance levels and our long term health and wellbeing.  So far, research supports the following measures to sharpen our thinking, expand our creativity and prevent – or at least substantially slow down – the cognitive decline we’ve mistakenly believed was inevitable with ageing.   

  1. Engage in aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes every second day.  This cuts our lifetime risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s Disease) in half!  Bump it up to 20 minutes every day and we also reduce our risk of stroke by over 50%.  Exercising in company seems to have an even more powerful effect than exercising alone.
  2. Don’t smoke.  Lifelong smokers are 70% more likely to develop dementia than non-smokers.  Stopping smoking at any age will make a positive difference.
  3. Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your daily diet.  These include linseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, soybeans and dark leafy vegetables like spinach.  The richest sources of omega-3s are oily fish such as salmon, sardines, cod and tuna. People who eat oily fish more twice a week are about half as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as those who rarely eat oily fish.  I hesitate to recommend eating fish more than twice a week because of environmental concerns despite it being good for both our brain and our heart.
  4. Remain socially actively.  Nurture meaningful relationships and develop a rich social circle – beyond Facebook and online interactions.  Our brain needs live contact with other human beings.
  5. Experience different cultures – visit new places, meet new people, try new foods, experience new routines. Cultivate variety in your life.  Expose yourself to stimulating environments.
  6. Actively learn new things your whole life long: a foreign language, a musical instrument, an art, a craft, a hobby, a sport, a skill.  Reading and watching documentaries, although good for our brain, are not as powerful as active learning because they’re a more passive brain activity.  Do crosswords, try sudoku, solve problems, play bingo.  Don’t confine yourself to only one of these activities, give them all a go.
  7. Live in the present moment.
  8. De-stress and get adequate sleep.  Take time out to walk in nature and engage in pure play, just for the pleasure of it.
  9. Remain passionate and curious all your life.  Never stop asking questions.

10. Eliminate soft drinks from your life.  Fizzy drinks make fuzzy thinking.

11. Learn to dance!  Dancing recruits a large number of cells from different regions of our brain.     

12. Become ambidextrous. 

13. Know that what you do makes a profound difference and is well worth the effort – but don’t expect instant gratification. 

Click here to register for the August Ascend development days.


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