There are many factors that affect brain health. How a person manages stress, how well they socialize, how well they sleep, how much they exercise, and what they drink and eat all are crucial to brain health.
So how does one achieve brain health? Here are seven pillars that can help you achieve optimal brain health, even into old age.
- Exercise. Exercise can improve both your memory and your blood flow. It also causes chemical changes in the brain that can boost your mood. Exercise is very beneficial for brain health. Exercise can prolong your life, reduce the risk of heart disease, maximize sleep, help you lose weight, and improve your mood. The mind is closely linked to the body so the more exercise you get, the better your mind functions. Try regular exercise to develop a strong memory and improved brain vitality.
- Reducing Stress
We cannot always avoid mental stress but there are things we can do to offset stress and to reduce our stress levels in general. High stress levels can also lead to depression and anxiety so it is very important to diminish stress in our lives. Find ways to have more peace in your life. Yoga, meditation, spending time in nature, listening to peaceful and relaxing music, and power napping, are all great ways to help lower stress. Find ways that bring you JOY and do those.
- Food and nutrition
There is a lot truth in the old adage “you are what you eat.” By making good food choices every day, you can improve the health of your brain. As we age our brains are affected by many factors and nutrition plays a huge role in brain health. Brains are affected by “oxidation” which results from free radical damage. Foods and supplements that are antioxidants can be very beneficial in reversing the effects of oxidation. Choosing foods that are natural and not processed help to provide the body with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and natural antioxidants. Choose foods that do not come in a package and/or are processed. Learn to question the foods that you put into your body. For example, ask yourself: Is this food helping my body and brain or is it a detriment?
- Lower Your Risk Factors
Things like smoking, high cholesterol, head trauma, depression, obesity, and diabetes all increase a person’s chances of developing dementia. The good news is that we have a lot of control over many of these risks factors. Again question your habits and ask yourself is the habit or behavior you are participating in beneficial to your health and longevity or is it having a negative impact?
- Sleep and relaxation
Your brain functions better when you are well rested. Sleep is energizing, improves your immune system, enhances your mood, and restarts the brain. It may also decrease the development of beta-amyloid plaque, which is linked to Alzheimer’s dementia. Anyone who has had to stay awake for an extended period of time, or has gotten a bad night’s sleep knows how much of an impact this has on mental functioning, focus and concentration. If you have trouble with sleeping well, try meditation to manage your stress levels, which may also help to decrease the age-related decline of brain health. There are few things that help a person feel better than getting enough sleep. It sharpens the brain and helps maximize the brain.
- Mental fitness
Brain health depends on using your mind to its maximum ability. Those who spend much of the their time in front of a television are not really stimulating the brain and exercising it in a way that promotes its growth and power, something that is similar to muscle atrophy from lack of movement. Getting enough mental exercise is just as critical as physical exercise is to brain health. Mental exercise can maximize a person’s ability promote brain cell growth and improve the functioning of their brain. It can decrease the chances of developing Alzheimer’s dementia as well. Just as a person exercises their muscles, they need to exercise their brain. People who persist in developing new interests and skills, engage in things that are interesting, partake in new activities, and continue to learn new things, will maximize their brain functioning.
- Social Interaction. People who maintain social interaction and remain connected with others have better brain health. Try to engage in conversation with others, spend time with others, and stay in touch with loved ones. Those people who have the most social interaction enjoy better brain health. The wonderful benefit of technology in today’s modern world allows easier connection with others right from your own home. There are many Facebook groups, for example, and you can find people with a kindred mindset for gardening, cooking, art, health topics, etc. There are so many to choose from.
Maggie Holbik.com is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Registered Nutritional Therapist, Natural Nutrition Clinical Practitioner and Certified Life Coach who loves to share information that make a positive difference in the lives of others.