Imagine a situation where you have the memory of a supercomputer. You can remember every word that you glance through once in the dictionary. You can recall every person whom you have met till now by their face, name and other details. You can solve all the complex arithmetic problems in seconds without a calculator. You have the ability to solve every puzzle that comes your way. You have a super-brainpower!
Situations such as these are unreal and impracticable. However, there is always room for us to improve our mental ability to reach a level close to the above scenario. A person with a higher intellectual ability is always at an advantage as he has more chances of promotions in jobs, better prospects of revenue in business, or higher possibility of success in examinations.
With the advancement of age and lack of proper exercise, our bodily organs age and lose the vitality of their youth. The brain is no exception. We all have experienced being unable to concentrate at the end of a long day, or being frustrated when we realise back at home that some important shopping items have been left out. Therefore, it is necessary for the brain to remain at its peak performance throughout our life.
Fortunately, it is possible to enhance brainpower by improving memory with the use of some simple tips, prescribed in the ancient texts of Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda.
Ayurveda describes three aspects to mental performance—dhi (learning and comprehension), dhriti (retention of knowledge), and smriti (memory or recall). If each of these three factors individually is at its peak and if coordination among them is also optimal, we can hope for the realisation of the maximum mental potential.
In the paragraphs that follow, I have put forward some of the tips to can help to boost brainpower by increasing the three distinct types of memory: sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory, in the light of Ayuveda.
Avoid Food without Chetna or Prana
From the Ayurvedic perspective, the most healthy diet consists of whole food, eaten in as natural a state as possible. Peeling or cooking is the only exception as this helps increase digestibility and assimilation.
Food items that are frozen, canned, refined (so as to denude the food of its nutritive value), genetically altered, grown with chemical pesticides or fertilisers or processed with artificial colours, flavours, additives or preservatives, are not recommended by Ayurveda. Such food lacks in Chetana (living intelligence) and Prana (vital life-energy) and will disturb the intellect as well as the the coordination between the three aspects of mental prowess—comprehension (dhi), retention (dhriti) and recall (smriti).
For the above reasons, it is best to choose food products that are locally grown or produced, are in-season, and are at the same time organic, natural and sattvic. In case you happen to reside at a place where very few locally grown food items are available, it is always better to import items that are as fresh and natural as possible.
Eat a Wide Variety of Food
Eat a wide variety of food for balanced nutrition—whole grains, lentils and pulses, vegetables, fruits, dairy, nuts, healthy oil or ghee, spices and pure water. Ayurvedia recommends that you include all of the six tastes at each main meal you eat—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Avoid aerated drinks as they interfere with the absorption of nutrients by the body.
If you find yourself eating the same dishes several times a week, or if you gravitate towards the same food product every time you shop, make a resolve to start making your meals an adventure. Every week, try at least a few new food items or fix familiar dishes in new ways, so that both your taste buds and your digestion are constantly exposed to some new stimuli.
According to Ayurveda, each meal should be a feast for all of your eyes. When your plate reflects an appealing variety of colours, textures, flavours and aromas, your digestive juices start flowing freely in anticipation and your body, mind and heart are all fulfilled by the eating experience.
Add a Little Fat and Some Proteins
Although excessive intake of fats is considered harmful, do not count out fat entirely from your diet since essential fatty acids are vital for our brain the solid part of which is primarily composed of fat. The synapses in the brain that are involved in creating and maintaining memories are formed from fats. As the body does not produce fats, it is important for us to get them from external sources such as our daily intake of food. Ayurveda prefers ghee (clarified butter) over other forms of oils and fats. The use of almond oil too is good for your mental health.
Similarly, protein is also important for the brain as it stimulates the neurotransmitters that are associated with memory. Therefore, eating natural food products containing high-protein contents can improve verbal and non-verbal memory together with mental flexibility. The list of high-protein food items may include soyabean, all varieties of dals, gram and moong sprouts, milk, yogurt, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, beet, carrots, celery, corn, cucumber, and endive. Since Ayurveda advocates sattvic food, it is always better to get your proteins from vegetarian food only.
Switch to Natural Antioxidants
The brain is susceptible to damage by free radicals produced due to a variety of factors such as stress, environmental pollution, bacteria and parasites, prescription drugs, chemotherapy and radiation, smoking, alcohol, and exposure to excessive heat or cold. Free radicals have been widely linked to disease and aging. Antioxidants are, therefore, crucial for the effective functioning of the brain. The best way to provide your system with antioxidants is through whole, uncooked plants in the form of fruits, vegetables, sprouts, and algae such as spirulina, chlorella. Naturally-occurring plant phytonutrients such as those from the maidenhair tree (Ginkgo Biloba) are also good sources of antioxidants. Amalaki, the Indian gooseberry, considered the richest natural source of vitamin C is one of the best sources of antioxidants.