5 ways to improve brain health
Keeping your brain healthy and sharp is essential to your well-being. Your brain works non-stop for you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and its proper functioning affects your thoughts, emotions, movement, and memory. While there are some things you can’t control when it comes to your brain health, namely aging and genetics, you can control certain lifestyle factors. Let’s take a look at 5 important ways you can improve the long-term health of your brain.
5 Ways to Improve Brain Health:
#1: Exercise. Exercise gets the blood pumping and increases flow to the brain, which stimulates the development of new brain cells and has a positive impact on the connections between the cells. It stimulates chemical changes in the brain that enhance learning, mood and thinking. Exercise also helps to reduce stress and improve sleep quality, both of which are important to your brain health, so get your body moving at least 30 minutes a day.
#2: Mental stimulation. As with muscles, you have to use your brain or you lose it. Activities that require mental effort stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells. Challenging your brain with unfamiliar tasks or novel activities strengthens existing neural pathways and creates new ones which can help prevent cognitive decline in future years. So challenge your brain by trying mental and physical tasks you don't already do.
#3: Social interaction. A rich social network provides sources of support, reduces stress, combats depression and enhances mental stimulation. Studies have shown that those with the most social interaction within their community experience the slowest rate of memory decline. Allow your brain to flourish by making an effort to foster healthy community.
#4: Sleep and relaxation. While you sleep the brain repairs itself and consolidates information taken in from the day. Sleep energizes you, improves your mood, and even reduces buildup in the brain of an abnormal protein which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. There is also increasing evidence that stress hormones damage the brain by killing nerve cells. Any steps you take to reduce stress and improve sleep will help preserve brain cells and maintain good brain health.
#5: Nutrition. Like any high-performance machine, your brain needs top quality fuel. Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants and B vitamins are essential to optimal brain health. Omega-3’s, such as those found in oily fish and walnuts, are an important part of cell membranes, reduce inflammation in the brain, and promote the growth of new brain cells. Protein provides essential amino acids- a vital component of neurotransmitters which carry messages from one brain cell to another. Antioxidants, like those found in fruit, vegetables, and beans, help fend off free radicals and oxidation damage in your brain. B vitamins improve the production of neurotransmitters, reduce inflammation of the brain, and help prevent mental decline and dementia. A diet rich in all of these nutrients in your diet will give your brain a natural boost.
Make these lifestyle choices now to give your brain the same kind of healthy life-span as your body.