Enjoy dark chocolate, have plenty of sex, eat cold meats and fish for breakfast and you could boost your brain power, say the authors of a new book.
Cognitive psychologist Terry Horne and biochemist Simon Wootton – who co-authored “Teach Yourself: Training Your Brain” – argue that lifestyle choices are crucial for keeping you in tip-top mental condition.
“Lifestyle can boost your brain power,” Horne said. “What your lifestyle does is help to create the chemical conditions in your brain.”
Horne told Reuters in an interview to mark the book’s publication that the brain is more like a chemical factory than a computer.
Not a passive victim
“You can create the optimum conditions in your brain,” he said. “You are not just a passive victim of your genes.”
The authors take issue with those who argue that a decline in cognitive ability is inevitable from the age of 17 onwards. With careful lifestyle choices “you can create spare cognitive capacity,” Horne said.
They offer an intriguing list of do’s and don’ts and insist that people can be pro-active in keeping their brains agile.
Much of it is pure common sense.
“Stress is bad for your thinking. Avoid excessive alcohol and smoking cannabis,” he said.
Intriguingly, the authors also urge readers to avoid watching soap operas and Horne said “Don’t mix with whingeing, whining, moaning and cynical sorts of people.”
And the book is full of practical tips on how to keep the brain firing on all cylinders.
“Cold meats and fish are good for you at breakfast,” Horne said after writing the book which the authors say is based on leading scientific research from around the world.
“Dark chocolate is also good for you because it contains many of the chemicals present when your brain is thinking well. It relaxes the muscles around your blood vessels and actually improves the flow of blood to your brain.”
They then looked at research into the seven stages of sex from the time you first fancy it through to the after-glow.
“In four of the seven stages we see the same chemicals that help with the thinking process,” Horne said.
Can sleep apnoea affect your sex life?
Your sex life is unlikely to suffer because of sleep apnoea treatment, according to a new study.
People with sleep apnoea experience periods of disrupted breathing throughout sleep. This can lead to daytime fatigue, high blood pressure and other health conditions.
The gold standard of sleep apnoea treatment involves going to bed wearing a mask or nosepiece with a hose that’s attached to a machine that provides a steady stream of air to keep the airways open during sleep. This is called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
Many patients who use CPAP believe it makes them less sexually attractive, which may make them less likely to comply with treatment, according to the researchers from Rosalind Franklin University in Chicago.
To find out more about how CPAP affects patients’ sex lives, the researchers surveyed 52 patients who were prescribed the treatment. Of those patients, 27 were compliant (meaning they used CPAP more than four hours a night on 70 percent of nights) and 25 were not compliant.
All were asked 10 questions related to physical and emotional aspects of lovemaking, the researchers said.
After adjusting for other factors, the investigators found that compliant and non-compliant patients had similar sexual quality-of-life scores.
The findings, published in the journal Chest, will be presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Austin, Texas.
“This study suggests that CPAP compliance does not impair sexual quality of life in patients with sleep apnoea,” Dr. Mark Rosen, medical director of the college, said in an association news release.
Erectile dysfunction is common in men with sleep apnoea, but previous research has shown that CPAP improves erectile dysfunction in these patients, according to the college.