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Eat fish, dark chocolate for brain health
Updated: 2008-02-26 09:48

Forget gruelling gym sessions - brain fitness can be enhanced by dark chocolate and sleep.

These tips are among 14 recommendations for a healthy brain being touted by the Neurological Foundation in the lead-up to International Brain Awareness Week on March 10 to 16.

For sceptics who scoff at such indulgent suggestions, the foundation maintains that the health of the brain is as important as that of any other part of the body.

According to foundation guidelines, dark chocolate can activate brain systems which assist it to learn better and to retain more knowledge in the memory.

Plenty of sleep helps the brain effectively store new information in its long-term memory.

The foundation also recommends incorporating fish into the diet and doing some brain-busting activities to improve the organ's function.

Such activities include visiting a museum and afterwards recalling as many details as possible, memorising a favourite song or learning a musical instrument.

Alternatively, you can do a challenging jigsaw puzzle, use your non-dominant hand for daily activities and walk on a cobblestone path to enhance your balance.

The foundation said fitness for the brain was just as important as that in other areas of the body.

The other areas generally received greater care and attention from people who are health-conscious.

"You can actually improve your brain health," said foundation spokeswoman Adrienne Kohler.

"The recommendation seems to be use it or lose it and the research has shown to a certain extent that ... the more you use it, there seems to be a lower incidence of Alzheimer's or dementia."

Developments in neuroscience were continuously helping enhance experts' understanding of the brain.

This work was generating recommendations as to how the organ's healthy function could be maintained as the body aged.

How to improve your brain

Eat dark chocolate
Visit a museum and recall what you saw
Memorise a song
Use peripheral vision
Learn a musical instrument
Do jigsaws
Turn down the TV and listen harder
Catch a ball or juggle
Make hobbies more challenging
Use your other hand
Eat fish
Walk on cobblestones to improve balance
Get a good night's sleep