By Daniel G. Amen, MD

To live longer, you have to boost your brain. Better overall health is directly connected to your level of conscientiousness.

To live longer, you have to boost your brain. Better overall health is directly connected to your level of conscientiousness.

The trait of being painstaking and careful, or the quality of acting according to the dictates of one’s conscience. It includes such elements as self-discipline, carefulness, thoroughness, organization, deliberation (the tendency to think carefully before acting), and need for achievement.

One of the greatest challenges in achieving our long term health goals like stress reduction, losing weight, and increasing exercise begin with whether or not we are able to make conscientious decisions. Whether or not we are able to win the battle between the thoughtful side of our brain that knows the wise choices we should make, and the pleasure centers part of our brain that wants what it wants, and wants it now.

So how do you become more conscientious? How do you live a happier, physically healthy life? Boost your brain.

Avoid foods and activities that damage your brain.

Add foods and activities that enhance your brain.

When you boost your brain power you will see energy levels increase, memory strengthen, attention span increase, impulsiveness decrease, and weight loss that sticks.

Here are simple things you can do on a daily basis to boost your brain function:

Practice using your brain The brain is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more you can continue to use it. New learning makes new connections in the brain, making you sharper and more efficient.

Eat a good diet Getting good nutrition is essential to good brain function and to a better body. A healthy diet includes lean protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats like olive oil. Studies show that your brain works better if you eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Omega 3’s A daily fish oil supplement can decrease inflammation and boost blood flow to the brain. Low levels of omega 3 fats have been connected to ADHD, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, most of us do not get all the nutrients we need from the foods we eat. Taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement is highly recommended.

Exercise When it comes to the brain, exercise acts like the fountain of youth. It boosts blood flow, increases the brain’s use of oxygen, and improves your brain’s response to stress. It is the single most important thing you can do to keep your brain healthy and is one of the best ways to change your shape and improve your mood, energy level, sexual performance, and overall health.

Get enough sleep Getting at least eight hours of sleep at night has been shown to help keep your brain functioning at optimal levels, keeps your appetite in check, and helps your skin look younger.

Then what These two little words are very powerful. Learning to ask yourself, “then what” questions will help you make conscientious choices and think about the consequences of your behavior before you act.

Challenge negative thoughts You do not have to believe every stupid thought you have. Thinking positive thoughts leads to positive changes in your brain, decision-making, and lifestyle. Positive thoughts can help with weight loss, anxiety, and depression.

Practice gratitude Focus your attention on the things in your life that you are grateful for. Write down 5 things you are grateful for every day. In just three weeks you will have a notice a significant positive difference in your level of happiness. Gratefulness helps your brain work better.

Balance your blood sugar Low blood sugar means lower overall blood flow to the brain. Keep your blood sugar balanced and keep your impulses, irritability, and bad decision making under control.

Balance your brain chemistry A strong link between mental disorders and physical illnesses and conditions has been well established. You can maintain control your life by getting help for problems such as ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Treating mental conditions improves brain function and general health and well-being.