Easy Ways To Boost Your Brain Health
Use it or lose ityour brain, that is. Our brain changes with age, and mental function changes along with it. Mental decline is typical, and its one of the most feared consequences of aging. But cognitive impairment is not inevitable. Keeping your brain healthy is essential for living a long and full life. The following eight tips are easy ways to keep your brain healthy and functioning well.
Ways To Improve Brain Function And Health
Most people want to improve or at least maintain their brain function. We all know that dementia and Alzheimers disease are out there, and none of us wants to fall victim to either one. Some of us want to take the extra step and actually boost brainpower so that we can feel like were thinking more sharply throughout the day.
However, what we want and what we do are often two different things. According to a survey by nonprofit organization AARP, while 98 percent of respondents said maintaining and improving brain health was very or somewhat important, only about half admitted to participating in activities that help protect cognitive health. Meanwhile, nearly four in 10 stated they had noticed a decline in their ability to remember things during the past five years.
Sometimes, the problem is that we really dont know what sort of things to do to promote brain health. We think that playing puzzles or games will do the trick but, actually, there is little evidence those activities help. There are, however, at least 10 things that are linked with boosting brainpower and promoting optimal brain functioning, and weve got them for you here.
A New Book Argues That Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices Can Stave Off Cognitive Decline At Any Age
Like many people over 60, I sometimes lose my keys or forget the names of favorite films. When I do, it makes me wonder: Is this the beginning of cognitive decline? Or, worse, am I fated to follow in the footsteps of my mother, who died of Lewy-body dementia in her 70s?
According to neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical correspondent and author of the new book Keep Sharp: Building a Better Brain at Any Age, the answer is no. Forgetfulness is normal at all ages, and your genes dont doom you to dementia. Whats important is taking care of your brain in the best way possible, he argues.
You can affect your brains thinking and memory far more than you realize or appreciate, and the vast majority of people havent even begun to try, he writes.
Gupta distills results from hundreds of research studies to help readers understand whats known about keeping your brain healthy. Along the way, he busts common mythsfor example, that doing puzzles is a good way to ward off dementiaand replaces them with science-based advice on how to live a longer, healthier life with a more functional brain. He also distinguishes typical memory lapses from more troublesome ones a distinction I found quite reassuring.
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Improve Your Blood Pressure And Cholesterol
High blood pressure increases the risk of cognitive decline. High levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of dementia. Simple lifestyle modifications will help keep your blood pressure as low as possible and cholesterol at an appropriate level. Diet, exercise, weight control, limiting alcohol and avoiding tobacco will go a long way toward improving both. If you need help making changes to support a healthier lifestyle, ask your doctor.
Day : Schedule A Screening For High Blood Pressure And Diabetes
Unchecked high blood pressure or diabetes can damage blood vessels in the brain. And because both conditions can potentially lurk undetected, a screening can help you find out exactly where you stand and take action, if needed.
“High blood pressure and diabetes, as well as obesity and smoking, when uncontrolled, increase one’s risk of developing strokes, which can impair cognition,” explains Daniel Lee, MD, a neuropsychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Adults 18 to 39 at average risk for high blood pressure should be screened every 3 to 5 years, while those over 40 or younger adults at higher risk for high blood pressure should be screened once a year, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force .
Those ages 35 to 70 who have overweight or obesity should be screened for diabetes every 3 years, per the USPSTF. If you’re not sure whether you’re due for a blood pressure or diabetes screening, talk with your doctor.
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Six Ways To Boost Your Brain Health
As we get older, small lapses in memory and other cognitive functions may become more common. Fortunately, there are simple steps to take to keep the brain healthy and prevent memory loss.
Exercise regularly. Its one of the best things you can do to help prevent age-related memory loss. Movement boosts blood flow to your brain and helps nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls your memory. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week.
Exercising your brain with crossword puzzles or games keeps it working. There are also smartphone games designed to keep the brain sharp and applications to help us set reminders. These tools may not necessarily restore brain function already lost, but they may help you maintain your current level of brain fitness. With a little daily effort, you can support a healthy body by developing a healthy mind.
Try to be a part of your community. It gets you engaged in conversations and activities and keeps you thinking, talking, laughing and planning. These are all important ways to keep your mind strong. Join a club, take a class or volunteer. The more active you are, the more your brain is working.
Stimulate your brain by writing things down. Your brain can only keep track of so much, so writing it all down can help. Mapping out your day ahead of time and keeping a weekly agenda can help you organize your thoughts and activities.
How To Increase Your Brain Power
This article was co-authored by Rahti Gorfien, PCC. Rahti Gorfien is a Life Coach and the Founder of Creative Calling Coaching, LLC. She specializes in working with artists, entrepreneurs, and college students in creative fields. Rahti is accredited as a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation, an ACCG Accredited ADHD Coach by the ADD Coach Academy, and a Career Specialty Services Provider . In addition, she has personal experience in the fields she coaches – she is an alumnus of the New York University Graduate Acting program and has been a working theater artist for over 30 years. She was voted one of the 15 Best Life Coaches in New York City by Expertise in 2018.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 32 testimonials and 89% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 599,337 times.
Whether you’re trying to jump-start your brain to do better on tomorrow’s test, or you simply want to do your best to avoid diseases that attack your brain, there are some definite ways to boost your brainpower.
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What Is Brain Health
Brain health refers to how well a persons brain functions across several areas. Aspects of brain health include:
- Cognitive health how well you think, learn, and remember
- Motor function how well you make and control movements, including balance
- Emotional function how well you interpret and respond to emotions
- Tactile function how well you feel and respond to sensations of touch including pressure, pain, and temperature
Brain health can be affected by age-related changes in the brain, injuries such as stroke or traumatic brain injury, mood disorders such as depression, substance use disorder or addiction, and diseases such as Alzheimers disease. While some factors affecting brain health cannot be changed, there are many lifestyle changes that might make a difference.
A growing body of scientific research suggests that the following steps are linked to cognitive health. Small changes may really add up: Making these part of your routine could help you function better.
- Limit use of alcohol .
- Quit smoking, if you currently smoke. Also avoid other nicotine products such as chewing tobacco.
- Get enough sleep, generally seven to eight hours each night.
Do Some Exercise Every Day
Being physically active is crucial for good brain health, and you should seek to do some form of exercise every day. You need 150 minutes a week, minimum, says Goodwin. But thats not enough you also need to stay active in your lifestyle as well. I call it declaring war on the chair.
Sedentary lifestyles are on the rise, with 27.5 per cent of adults and a huge 81 per cent of adolescents globally failing to meet this level of activity. Just anecdotally, we can all relate to spending too much time sat in front of a screen, right? Goodwins advice is to avoid sitting down for more than 45 minutes at a time, and he emphasises that those of us with couch potato tendencies cant out-exercise a generally sedentary lifestyle. You cant just do one hour of exercise a day to boost brain health. Instead, you can actually reverse brain ageing by combining it with an increase in movement throughout the day. Yes! You can actually make your brain younger!
One study he references, carried out by the University of Pittsburgh, monitored two groups of people over the course of a year. One group performed 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week, and the other group were limited to stretching and toning exercises. In those that exercised aerobically, the hippocampus, responsible for learning and memory, increased in volume by two per cent over the year. This group didnt just stop ageing, they also reversed it! So however you do the minutes, just make sure you do them.
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Take Care Of Your Emotions
You already know that positive emotions are better for your heart health than negative ones. The same is true for brain health. Research shows that positive emotions like happiness, joy, contentment and enthusiasm, improve several aspects of cognitive function like memory, judgment, decision-making, flexibility and creativity.
Scientists think that positive emotions increase the ability to think flexibly and to see relationships between various experiences and objects while improving problem-solving. Positive emotions also increase the release of good-mood neurotransmitters that are associated with cognitive processing.
Of course, you cant pretend to feel great if you dont. The key is to learn to process negative emotions through activities like exercise, journaling, therapy and others to move them through your body and out so you can experience real positive emotions again.
Focus On Another Person
The next time you interact with someone, take note of four things about them. Maybe you observe the color of their shirt or pants. Are they wearing glasses? Do they have a hat on, and if so, what kind of hat? What color is their hair?
Once you decide on four things to remember, make a mental note, and come back to it later in the day. Write down what you remember about those four details.
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When Life Becomes Stressful Do You
- Meditate? Meditation may lower blood pressure, even not actively meditating
- Relax? Actively relax by tensing then relaxing individual muscle groups
- Exercise? Channeling internal stress into external action can relieve stress
- Ensure there is a balance of work and recreation in your life?
- Let go of things that are outside your control?
- Take time out for yourself
- Visit your general practitioner
- During deep sleep, the brain repairs itself and boosts the immune system.
- During rapid eye movement sleep, the brain consolidates information learned during the previous day.
- Poor sleep or sleep loss leads to fatigue, immune suppression, memory, concentration and mood disorders. Optimal learning cannot take place against a background of sleep debt.
- Seek help for sleep apnoea as it increases the risk of stroke.
What can you do if you cant get to sleep? The most common causes of difficulty are not being able to shut off the anxieties and worries of the day and preparing for tomorrows problems.
- One way you could help is by preparing for sleep:
- Dont take one last look at email messages
- No phone calls, business, late-night news, planning for tomorrow after 9pm
- Dont go to bed until you feel sleepy
- Dont have caffeine after noon
Tips To Improve Brain Health
Taking care of brain health is about taking actions that will help the brain function well, reduce health risks such as stroke or dementia, and to help improve well-being and the brains ability to cope with changes as we get older.
Around the world, brain disease is the leading cause of death and disability. Many of us know someone whose life has been impacted by stroke, dementia, mental illness, or other brain conditions. By 2030, diseases of the brain are expected to outpace all others in terms of health-care costs and level of disability in society.
The brain is influenced and affected by almost everything we do. Simple steps taken each day can help support brain health and general well-being, adds Dr. Levitt.
Here are simple steps to boosting brain health to keep it working at its best.
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Get Exercise Every Day
Any time you move in a way that gets your blood pumping, you give your brain a boost. Blood is filled with oxygen and nutrients that feed our brains, says Gary W. Small, M.D., director of the UCLA Longevity Center and the author of 2 Weeks to a Younger Brain. Exercise also spurs the body to produce a protein that acts like fertilizer for the brain, stimulating neurons to sprout branches so they can communicate more effectively, says Dr. Small. When University of Illinois researchers asked 120 adults between 55 and 80 to spend 40 minutes three days per week either walking briskly or stretching and toning, they found that after one year, a memory center of the walkers brains was 2% bigger than in the stretching and toning group. That percentage may sound small, but its enough to essentially reverse the brain shrinkage that naturally occurs with aging in the same period of time, Dr. Small notes.
Even a single workout could be enough to give you an immediate cognitive boost. A small but promising 2019 study found that people who did 30 minutes of stationary cycling had better ability to recall names than others who simply rested.
Day : Sign Up To Volunteer
Doing good for others can do good for your brain. While more research is needed, in preliminary studies, volunteering appears to be associated with better brain function, likely because it helps participants stay physically active, maintain social ties and engage in activities that are stimulating and enriching, according to a November 2017 analysis in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B.
No one type of volunteer work has been shown to be better for the brain than others, so focus on finding an activity you love. “We generally encourage those that the individual enjoys partaking in, in hopes that these promote engagement, stimulation, delight and a sense of wellbeing,” Dr. Lee says.
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Best Foods To Boost Your Brain And Memory
Your brain is kind of a big deal.
As the control center of your body, its in charge of keeping your heart beating and lungs breathing and allowing you to move, feel, and think.
Thats why its a good idea to keep your brain in peak working condition.
The foods you eat play a role in keeping your brain healthy and can improve specific mental tasks, such as memory and concentration.
This article lists 11 foods that boost your brain.
Healthy Heart Healthy Brain
Grill pointed out the importance of a healthy heart.
Some suggests that reducing cardiac risk factors in the middle adult years is just as, or even more important than, the types of genes you carry for risk of developing amyloid plaques later in life.
Many of us believe that theres no more significant risk factor for getting Alzheimers than the presence of amyloid plaques in the brain, said Grill.
So, he continued, if youre in your 40s and 50s and you smoke and you dont exercise and your diet isnt the healthiest in the world, changing two of the three of those could be more impactful than changing your genes, if you were able, to the risk for developing amyloid plaques later in life.
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