7 Proven Ways to Improve Brain Health as You Age
While physical decline and loss of a certain amount of mental sharpness are part of natural aging, depression, forgetfulness, dementia, and other neurodegenerative disorders are not directly linked to the normal aging process. These issues generally occur due to poor eating habits and lifestyles.
The good thing is, you can preserve your mental health and prevent natural mental decline if you keep your heart healthy, exercise regularly, and start working on the 7 proven ways we have described below.
7 ways to improve brain health as you age
Keep your heart healthy
You need to stay on top of your heart health if you want to maintain your brain health. A healthy heart keeps the blood moving and ensures your brain gets enough blood that it needs to nurture.
High blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) levels are the key risk factors of cognitive decline and dementia (1, 2). It is because they hinder the normal blood flow to the brain. Therefore, improve your cholesterol and blood pressure levels to support your brain.
Work for it
Exercise has innumerable benefits, and one of these benefits is improvement in cognitive function. It is believed that when you exercise, your heart rate increases; as a result, blood circulation boosts, and your brain receives more blood. Some researchers also believe that exercise may promote the production of healthy brain cells.
Studies prove that regular exercise can increase the size of your anterior hippocampus (3). It is a part of the brain that plays a major role in memory and problem-solving. It naturally shrinks as you age. Therefore, staying more active may help you reverse aging effects and keep your brain young throughout your life.
Feed your brain
You are what you eat, meaning you become healthy when you eat good food, and your health declines when you eat bad food.
Certain foods are linked to better brain health and function. Common examples of these foods include whole grains, leafy grains, fruits, and fish. They contain natural nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that your brain requires to operate normally. You should make sure these foods make more appearances on your plate.
You can even eat healthy treats like dark chocolate (rich in flavanols) to improve your cognitive performance (4).
Let yourself rest
Shut your brain off for 7 to 8 hours every night to keep it working healthily. Sleep is an important time when your brain resets its function, heals from the previous day’s stress, and restores overall health. It is when the brain removes toxic chemicals called beta-amyloids that contribute to Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative issues (5).
Getting consecutive sleep is important to make sure your brain has enough time to store and consolidate memories. Fragmented sleep can disturb the natural healing process and memory consolidation process, leading to a high risk of dementia and poor memory.
Keep your brain active and engaged
Just like your muscles, you need to keep your brain active to develop it and improve its health; otherwise, it may deteriorate with time. There are many ways to increase your brain’s activity level. You can try different brain games like Sudoku, word problems, crossword puzzles, and quizzes.
These games will activate different parts of your brain, which will help you prevent cognitive decline and keep your brain young as you move towards old age. Indulging in real-world games has been found more effective than playing online games.
Instead of binge-watching a trending Netflix series or scrolling through the internet purposelessly, it is better to spend time with your loved ones, relatives, and friends. There are many benefits of doing this.
First, your relationship will become stronger as you get to spend more time and understand the other person better. Second, blood circulation to different brain parts will increase as it tries to help formulate a response. Last but not least, you will be less likely to develop anxiety and depression.
Keep a positive mindset
The health of your brain is in your hands. It is up to you how you see a thing. Is the glass half full or half empty for you?
A growing body of research has shown how your attitude and mindset towards growing old can influence your brain health. When you think (and believe) that your memory will decline and you will become slow with age, you will actually see this happening to you.
In contrast, when you tell yourself that you can improve your mental health with a healthy lifestyle, then this is what you will most likely get.
If you want to have a good memory and brain health in old age, then you should start working on this goal now. Eat the right food and train your brain to unlock its full potential and maintain its health throughout your life.