Our brain is an incredibly complex and vital organ that controls our thoughts, actions, and emotions. However, with aging, the risk of cognitive decline and dementia increases, affecting millions of people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, around 55 million people worldwide have dementia, and this number is projected to increase to 82 million by 2030.
However, research has shown that certain lifestyle choices and habits can promote brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. What can you do to keep your brain strong and healthy? After all, it’s the only one you’ve got.
In this article, we will explore some of the most effective strategies for how to keep your brain healthy and functioning at its best. Keep reading to learn the 411.
When learning how to keep your brain healthy, you’ll often hear of exercise being recommended (and for good reason). It’s true—exercise is not only essential for physical fitness but for improving brain health too.
Regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain. This helps in delivering essential nutrients and oxygen to the brain cells.
With exercise, you’ll also boost the availability of neurotransmitters. Dopamine and serotonin will help you regulate your mood and improve cognitive abilities.
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is any activity that gets your heart rate up and increases your breathing rate. Examples include running, cycling, swimming, and brisk walking. Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function, enhance memory, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT is a type of exercise that involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. This type of exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory, as well as increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes the growth and survival of brain cells.
Resistance training, also known as strength training, involves using weights or resistance bands to build muscle. Resistance training has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory, as well as increase BDNF levels.
Yoga is a type of exercise that combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. Yoga has been shown to improve cognitive function, enhance memory, and reduce stress levels, which can have a positive impact on brain health.
Dancing is a fun way to get exercise while also challenging the brain. Learning and remembering dance steps require cognitive effort, and dancing has been shown to improve cognitive function, enhance memory, and reduce the risk of dementia.
Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on brain health.
It is important to get adequate sleep to allow the brain to rest and recover. During sleep, the brain processes and consolidates memories, which is essential for learning and memory retention. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Learning how to keep your brain healthy must incorporate a healthy diet.
The food we eat has a significant impact on brain health. A healthy diet that is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals is essential for maintaining brain function. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, nuts, and seeds are also beneficial for brain health.
Additionally, reducing the intake of processed and sugary foods can help in improving brain function.
Fruits and Vegetables
These are essential to a healthy diet as they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Aim to eat a variety of colors to get a range of nutrients.
Whole grains like oats, quinoa, and brown rice are rich in fiber, which can help improve digestion and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Good sources of lean protein include chicken and fish (if you choose to consume animal protein) and tofu and legumes for plant based protein. Protein is important for building and repairing tissues and maintaining a healthy immune system.
Nuts and Seeds
These are great sources of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Examples include almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.
Healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon are important for maintaining heart health.
Water is essential for maintaining good health and staying hydrated. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
Engage in Mental Stimulation
Engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as reading, puzzles, and games can help in improving cognitive abilities and memory retention. These brain games help in creating new neural connections and strengthening existing ones, which is essential for brain health.
Chronic stress can have a detrimental effect on brain health. Managing stress levels through relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises is important. These techniques can help in reducing stress levels, which is essential for maintaining brain health.
Social interaction is essential for maintaining brain health. Engaging in social activities such as joining clubs or groups, and volunteering. Be sure to spend time with family and friends too. These activities can help in improving cognitive abilities and reducing the risk of cognitive decline.
Protect Your Head
Head injuries can have a significant impact on brain health. It is important to take precautions to protect your head such as wearing a helmet when cycling or engaging in contact sports.
Drinking enough water is crucial for good brain health. The brain is made up of 73% water, and dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, and poor cognitive function. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can have a detrimental effect on brain health. It can lead to memory loss, cognitive impairment, and even brain shrinkage. Limit your alcohol intake to moderate levels or avoid it altogether
Smoking can have a negative impact on brain health as it reduces blood flow to the brain, which can lead to cognitive decline. Quit smoking to reduce the risk of stroke and other brain-related diseases.
Protect Your Hearing
Hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline and dementia. Protect your hearing by avoiding loud noises or wearing earplugs if exposed to loud noises.
Practice Good Posture
Poor posture can lead to neck and back pain, which can affect brain health. Maintain good posture by sitting up straight and keeping your shoulders relaxed.
Curiosity is essential for maintaining good brain health. Stay curious by exploring new hobbies, learning new skills, and staying up-to-date with current events. This can help improve cognitive abilities and keep the brain active.
Learning something new can help keep your brain healthy and promote cognitive function. Learning a new language, musical instrument, or skill can help stimulate your brain and promote the growth of new neural connections. Regularly challenging your brain in this way can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Manage Chronic Health Conditions
Chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol can have a negative impact on brain health. Manage these conditions by following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking medication as prescribed.
Avoid Exposure to Toxins
Exposure to toxins such as pesticides and pollutants can have a negative impact on brain health. Avoid exposure to these toxins as much as possible by choosing organic produce, avoiding smoking or secondhand smoke, and using environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
Challenge Your Senses
Engage all your senses to keep your brain active and healthy. Try new foods, listen to different types of music, and expose yourself to different scents and textures.
Laughter is good for the brain as it can reduce stress and improve mood. Watch a comedy, spend time with friends who make you laugh, or try laughter yoga to incorporate more laughter into your life.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and focusing on the present experience. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and improve overall well-being.
Find a quiet place where you can sit or lie down comfortably without being disturbed. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
Bring your attention to your breath and notice the sensations of each inhale and exhale. You can focus on the rise and fall of your chest or the feeling of the air passing through your nostrils.
If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath. You can use a mental anchor such as counting your breaths or saying “inhale” and “exhale” silently to yourself.
Taking breaks from mentally challenging tasks can help improve brain function. Give your brain a break by taking a walk, doing some stretches, or engaging in a relaxing activity.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for good brain health. Obesity has been linked to cognitive decline and dementia. Follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight.
Get Regular Check-Ups
Regular check-ups with your doctor can help identify and treat health conditions that can affect brain health. Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease can all have a negative impact on brain function.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Taking care of your mental health is crucial for maintaining brain health. Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress can have a negative impact on cognitive function, memory, and overall brain health. Seeking professional help, practicing self-care, and engaging in activities that promote mental health can help reduce the impact of mental health conditions on your brain.
Staying informed about the latest research and information on brain health can help you make informed decisions about your lifestyle and health. Keeping up-to-date with the latest research on brain health can help you identify habits and practices that promote brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Limit Screen Time
Excessive screen time has been linked to cognitive decline, especially in children and adolescents. Limiting screen time and taking regular breaks can help reduce the impact of screen time on the brain and promote overall brain health.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene has been linked to cognitive decline and dementia. Maintaining good oral hygiene, such as brushing your teeth twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly, can help promote brain health.
It is also recommended to floss daily. Flossing removes food particles and plaque that can accumulate between teeth, which a toothbrush can’t reach. Be gentle when flossing to avoid injuring your gums.
You’ll also want to use mouthwash. Mouthwash helps kill bacteria and freshen your breath. Choose an alcohol-free mouthwash to avoid drying out your mouth.
Stay Mentally Engaged as You Age
As we age, it’s important to continue challenging our brains to promote brain health. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as reading, writing, playing games, and learning new skills can help promote cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Be sure to see what types of preventive care we offer as well.
Know How to Keep Your Brain Healthy
Taking care of our brains is essential for maintaining cognitive function and promoting overall well-being. By incorporating strategies such as eating a healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, managing stress, and staying mentally engaged as we age, we can help keep our brains healthy and functioning optimally. It’s never too early or too late to start taking care of your brain, and by making these strategies a part of your daily routine, you can enjoy a lifetime of good brain health.
The good news is you’re not alone. If you want to learn more about how to keep your brain healthy, we’re here for you. Be sure to schedule a visit with Salveo Direct Care at your nearest convenience.