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Do you often find yourself forgetting things easily? You are not alone.
While this is a common complaint, scientists have found that there are some lifestyle adjustments that you can make to keep your brain happy and healthy.
Top 10 Ways to Help Maintain Brain Function
Genes do have a role in our brain health but with certain behavior and lifestyle, you can improve your brain health and keep it young and fresh for a lot longer.
1. Get enough rest
Rest is essential in maintaining your brain health. However, the brain doesn’t rest when you sleep – it tries to make sense of all the things that you have learned throughout the day. This is where some scientists say dreams come from.
Getting enough sleep – between 7 and 9 hours of it – is a great way to promote brain health. But rest in general – relaxing and letting your mind flow is also a good way to just allow both your body to rest and your mind to let go of anxiousness and stress.
2. Eat well
Eating properly is one of the best ways to improve brain health. Some foods have nutrients which can help our brain stay healthy and work properly. People who eat Mediterranean food – or in other words, diet based on fruit, vegetables, fish and unsaturated oils – are less likely to develop dementia or any other kind of memory loss illness.
While you don’t have to eat just these foods, it’s good to focus on fish and nuts as well as vegetables. This will also improve your fitness and overall health.
There are many reasons why exercise is good for our brains. For one, it relieves stress, which has numerous beneficial effects on our mind. Exercising increases blood flow to the brain, which also gives our brains enough oxygen that it needs to function properly.
It also helps the development of new brain cells and building connections between brain cells. Exercise improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels, helps blood sugar and so on – all of which helps our brains.
4. Get mental exercises
Any mentally stimulating activity can help your brain.
- Crossword puzzles
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Building a craft
- Problem solving activities
Even playing games board games or playing cards can be effective in helping your brain stay fresh and healthy.
These actions stimulate connections between your brain cells, generating new brain cells and developing neurological plasticity. This helps keep reserves, a hedge against future cell loss.
5. Improve your blood pressure
High blood pressure is not only bad for your heart and lifestyle overall but also for your brain as it may cause a cognitive decline later on in life. It also limits you in regular activities that might also help your brain function better.
Stay healthy – eat healthy food that lowers your blood pressure, avoid alcohol and tobacco, exercise regularly and try to reduce stress in your life as much as possible.
6. Avoid alcohol and tobacco
Smoking and alcohol intake have a close relation to dementia later in life. The more you smoke, the more your risk increases.
People who smoke two packs a day have 50% more risk of getting dementia.
Those who smoke between half a pack and a pack a day had a 44% risk and even the lowest level smokers have 37% chance of developing dementia. However, people who used to smoke and then quit are less likely to develop it.
Alcohol is another dementia risk factor and you should definitely avoid it completely if you can. If not, limit your intake as much as possible.
7. Care for your mental well-being
Be aware of your mental health and its importance in your life right now and later on. People who have depression, anxiousness and so on, have bad cognitive test scores. If you notice any of the symptoms of a mental issue, talk to a therapist and see what your options are.
Your life quality will improve and thus your brain health as well.
8. Be social
Having friends and social connections is one of the best ways to keep your brain healthy and preventing dementia in older age. Surround yourself with different types of people – young people, old people, people from all social groups, have interesting conversations with them and learn from them.
9. Think positive
If we set high standards and expectations for ourselves, we are far more likely to keep to those standards and achieve more. There have been numerous studies done on people from different social groups and people who set higher standards for themselves had more chances at achieving great things, no matter their background.
This also improves intelligence and problem solving skills which is inherently excellent for our brain.
Meditation is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Calm mediation can improve your health on multiple levels. It can relieve stress and improve cognitive connections as well as improving our ability to remember, focus and stay positive and happy.
Find time every day to perform this simple yet effective exercise that will improve your life.
Which Foods Are Best for the Brain?
As mentioned, food and diet can have a major effect on how your brain works and how healthy it remains in old age. Poor nutrition along with alcohol intake and smoking is a definite factor in your brain health and that’s why you should make sure that the food you enjoy works for you, not against you.
Here are some foods that are excellent at keeping your brain healthy:
Coffee – If you like having coffee in the morning, you'll be glad to know the health benefits it may create for you. For one, the caffeine in the coffee makes you more alert, focused and it improves your mood. The antioxidants in it help you prevent Parkinson’s and Alcheimer’s disease. The same goes for green tea, which can be just as helpful.
Blueberries – These berries are full of antioxidants and they have some anti-inflammatory effects which can help your brain stay healthy for much longer. Some of the antioxidants can even help build new brain cell connections as well.
Fatty fish – This is one of the most well-recommended foods for brain health because fatty fish is full of Omega-3’s that are necessary for your brain health and proper function.These fats are essential for memory and learning.
Broccoli – Even though most children (and some adults!) may not like it, health benefits of eating broccoli are hard to deny. It’s great for your brain. The combination of vitamin K and choline make this a brain super food.
Dark chocolate – Has anyone ever offered you chocolate before an important test? Here is why – dark chocolate improves memory and mood as well as focus.
Turmeric – This one can help you build better memory, it eases depression and helps new brain cells grow because of curcumin, one of the main ingredients in turmeric. Just like coffee and many other foods beneficial for the brain, it’s full of antioxidants.
Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success
There are also many other ways of helping your brain – besides eating properly. Here are some training techniques that you can use on a daily basis to keep your brain healthy and happy.
Avoid rehashing, solve problems – This is a powerful technique. In essence, when you find yourself thinking about a problem or multiple problems, notice if you are really solving problems or just rehashing your bad feelings about it. If the answer is latter, you might be doing your brain more damage with all that stress. Stop focusing on the bad and focus on finding solutions, if possible. If not, try not to worry about it.
Take your own advice – You know how you often offer marvelous pieces of advice to your friends? Well, start taking your own advice. This is a great way not only to get through problems and reach a solution but also to feel happy and self-sufficient in certain areas.
Be clear about how you feel – This doesn’t mean that you should immediately tell everyone how you feel, but that you should be specific and clear with yourself on how you feel. Learn to label your feelings correctly. Your eyes did water, that’s a fact – but you felt sad. You did get butterflies but you felt anxious.
Find a balance between logic and emotion – Always leaning to either side of the argument leads to bad decision making. You should learn to balance between how you feel about something and what you think will be the best solution.
Say thank you – Gratitude is beneficial for your overall happiness and your brain’s health. Practice saying thank you for all of the things that you are grateful for, whether it’s something small that made you happy or something big.
Brain Health and Aging
As people get older, their brain, naturally, start to work in a different way and some of the brain health declines, even with all of the beneficial things you can do to keep it healthy.
Older people often have difficulty remembering words or names, have trouble doing more things at once, they can’t focus for too long and so on. Parts of the brain dedicated to learning shrink, communication between neurons decreases and blood flow to the brain declines.
The good news is that older people can still learn new things, improve memory by training and develop their vocabulary and communication skills. Be patient with yourself and have the willingness to train and improve with age.
Do you have a favorite activity to stay sharp? Share your brain saving solutions down below!