Are you taking the right measures to care for your brain health? Unfortunately, most people take their mental function for granted until one day they realize their mental agility is going down a slope and their memory is starting to fail them.
Whether you have reached that point or not, there are some simple everyday steps you can take to keep your brain in top shape, combat cognitive decline as you age, and reduce the risk for memory loss and other mental conditions. Here are 10 things everyone can and should do:
1. Read, Learn, Challenge
The brain is a complex interconnected web of cells that process, store and retrieve information. The more you use it, the sharper it becomes. Reading books, learning new skills, and solving puzzles on a daily basis increases the number of neural connections in the brain, i.e. it makes you smarter.
2. Nourish Your Brain
Being a very dynamic apparatus, your brain consumes a lot of energy and nutrients in order to keep functioning properly. Besides a well-balanced diet, the following foods are particularly beneficial for your brain:
- Blueberries: One of the richest fruits in natural antioxidants. Blueberries have been shown to improve memory and circulation.
- Beet juice: Reduces blood pressure and increases blood flow to the brain.
- Oily Fish: Salmon and tuna are rich sources of DHA (omega-3 fatty acid), which protects neurons and increases neurotransmitters.
- Green Tea: In addition to being one of the favorite drinks for dieters, green tea has also been found to improve cognitive function.
- Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, and pistachios are packed with vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that are important for memory and cognition.
3. Exercise More Often
There is a solid link between physical activity and overall health, including mental well-being. People who exercise regularly are usually more energetic, happier, and sharp-witted. No need for fancy equipment, just go for a brisk morning jog and an evening stroll.
4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
There is a reason why we spend almost half of our life sleeping. It is a necessary resting and healing time for the body and mind.
The brain cleanses itself during sleep by getting rid of toxins that build up during peak brain activity. Sleep also protects neurons (nerve cells) from damage. People who sleep for less than seven hours at night are at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s and cognitive disorders.
5. Are Your Meds Killing Your Brain?
Many of the drugs used as treatments may cause permanent brain damage in the long run. Antidepressants, pain killers, and anxiety drugs are among the worst offenders of brain health.
It is worthwhile to spend time and effort exploring alternative treatments – like lifestyle changes and herbal remedies – before resorting to quick-fix drugs.
6. Eliminate Stress
Studies have found a link between chronic stress and long-lasting brain impairment. If you are suffering from stress in a frequent manner, you should do something about it before it leads to more serious mental disorders.
7. Give it a Break
While the brain is designed to stay active 24/7, that doesn’t mean it can’t get worn out after a few hours of performing a demanding task.
Whatever it is you are doing, it is important to take a breather every hour or so. Take a few minutes to meditate or get out for a breeze of fresh air. That can really improve your mood and productivity.
8. Get Out of the Box
Doing the exact same things everyday means minimal brain stimulation. Your brain grows with new experiences and challenges. Do something different and exciting every day to trigger your brain. For example, go to a different grocery store, try to fix some of the broken stuff around your house, or go climb a mountain with friends!
9. Get Rid of the TV
Well, ditching the TV altogether would be a great idea since the only thing it is good for is guaranteed brain decay. But let me be more realistic and suggest that you at least reduce the amount of time you spend staring at a screen that is dumbing you down every day.
The brain responds better to real world stimulation and interaction. Socialize with other positive people – in real life not through the Internet – if you’d like to build more neural pathways, reduce depression, and reanimate your memory.
10. Stop Consuming Intoxicants
Yes, I’m talking about alcoholic drinks, but also any other substance that alters brain chemistry. While there are some debatable health benefits of alcohol, continual and immoderate drinking leads to many health problems, including neurological damage, brain shrinkage, cognitive impairment, and mental disorders. Some of the damage may be permanent.