We all hope that our brains stay sharp as we age, but what many people don’t understand is that we actually play a significant role in shaping the future of our brain health. There’s no perfect science for ensuring you have great cognitive function long into your wonder years, but there are some things you can do each day to increase your likelihood of staying mentally healthy. Below, we share five daily habits you can perform to help improve your odds of maintaining healthy cognitive function in your golden years.
Here’s a look at five things you can do to promote healthy brain aging.
1. Physical Exercise – Exercise is great for your physical body, but it’s also good for your brain. Exercise helps to bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of your brain that is responsible for thought. Exercise can also help spur the creation of new nerve cells and increase the synapses between brain cells, which leads to better brain performance as you age. Exercise can also indirectly help your brain, as it can work to reduce your blood pressure and your cholesterol, and poor levels in these categories has been linked to cognitive issues like dementia.
2. Mental Exercise – You also want to mentally challenge and stimulate your brain on a daily basis. Research has shown that activities that engage the brain stimulates new connections between nerve cells and can even help the brain generate new cells. Reading, crossword puzzles or word problems can all help engage your brain and improve its health.
3. Healthy Diet – We’re not saying that you can never indulge in chocolate or ice cream, but a healthy diet goes a long way in promoting positive brain health. Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet has been linked to a reduced likelihood of dementia and cognitive decline. Your brain gets nutrients from your diet, so be cognizant of what you’re putting in your body.
4. Avoiding Bad Habits – Tobacco and heavy alcohol use have been linked to cognitive decline and dementia, so avoid the bad habits or reduce your dependence on them. If you’re going to drink, consider limiting yourself to a glass or two of red wine, as some studies have found brain benefits associated with red wine consumption.
5. Protect Your Head – Far too often we end up treating patients that neglected basic safety measures and suffered a more severe head injury because of it. Always wear your seat belt whenever you get behind the wheel, and wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, bicycle, ATV or while skiing. You may be the best driver in the world, but all it takes is a mistake by someone else to send your world spinning. If you want to keep your brain healthy, protect it during activities that could lead to severe injury.