The human brain is an astoundingly complex organ that works nonstop around the clock. With 100 trillion or so interconnections, it is in charge of essential processes such as breathing, movement, and temperature control, among others, in addition to regulating cognitive functions, such as memory and learning.
Our brains, like our bodies, require care and exercise throughout our lives, especially as we age. Poor health habits can cause mental sluggishness, forgetfulness, and other symptoms of sub-optimal functionality.
There are many things you can do to keep your brain as healthy as possible throughout your life and reduce your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease) as you age.
Read on to find out ways to reach your desired mental fitness level and prevent mental decline.
Tips to keep your brain healthy
Research studies have revealed that crossword puzzles, sudoku games, jigsaw puzzles, and other games that require logic, math, word, and visual skills boost brainpower. These games require a wide range of cognitive abilities, which tests your brain and improves processing speed and memory. You now understand that it is acceptable, even healthy, for adults to spend a few minutes each day playing games.
Research shows that meditation can change the brain’s structure as well as brain functions. It is a well-known fact that meditation can relax the body, slow breathing, and reduce stress and anxiety. However, you may be surprised to learn that regular meditation can help you fine-tune your memory and increase your brain’s ability to process information. It only takes five minutes a day to create a calm mental state in your body.
Eat a balanced diet
Proper nutrition found in a healthy diet has a tremendous impact on your brain health. When you stick to a diet which emphasizes plant-based foods, whole grains, leafy greens, berries, and healthy fats like olive oil, you’re setting yourself up for improved mental health. Incorporate brain-boosting foods like nuts as they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are ‘good’ fats that help your brain’s structural integrity. Likewise, fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These fats, in addition to supporting the structure of your brain, aid in the cognitive processes such as memory and executive functioning.
Exercise on a regular basis.
Exercise has numerous known benefits, and regular physical activity benefits the brain as well. Whatever exercises you choose, focusing on brain health has been shown to enhance concentration, focus, memory, and mental agility in people of all ages. Multiple studies have found that physically active people are less likely to experience a decline in mental function and are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. This advantage stems from increased blood flow to the brain during exercise. It also tends to enlarge the areas of the brain associated with memory, coordination, planning and task management.
Get ample sleep
Sleep is critical to your brain’s health. Sleep deprivation can result in reduced attention span, worsened memory, and mood changes. According to some theories, sleep helps clear abnormal proteins in your brain and consolidates memories, improving your overall memory and brain health. Aim for seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, to allow your brain to consolidate and store memories more effectively.
Learn a new skill
Regardless of age, your brain is capable of learning new skills at any age. Learning any new skill can give a boost to your brain and strengthen brain connections, since learning a new skill engages multiple areas of your brain. Whether it’s learning to play an instrument, new dance moves, a new recipe or a new language; learning any craft or skill can stimulate your mind, and challenge your brain in novel ways while also adding something fun and interesting to your life.
Lifting weights helps to strengthen our muscles, but strengthening our mental ‘muscles’ helps to improve our memory, attention, brain speed, people skills, intelligence, and navigation.
Basic healthy habits like regular exercise, learning new things, and prioritizing sleep, focusing on nutrition can go a long way in keeping your brain sharp. Studies have demonstrated that even taking a simple walk helps in improving your memory and cognitive skills. After all, the brain, like any well-oiled machine, requires proper fuel to function optimally.