Just as your body changes as you get older, so does your brain. We’re fortunate to live in a time where humans are living longer than they ever have before. But, as a result, there has been a profound increase in the amount of brain related diseases and conditions that affect us in our later years.
To ensure that you’re able to enjoy every bit of your life as you advance in age, it’s important that you engage in techniques that help to promote a healthy brain. Let’s take a closer look at the things you can do today to keep your brain in top condition.
Different Ways to Promote a Healthy Brain
While there is such a broad range of factors that go into a person’s individual risks of developing brain diseases or conditions later in life, there are lifestyle changes, exercises, and techniques you can employ that promote brain health and will reduce your risk of developing these conditions.
One of the best ways to promote a healthy brain is to exercise regularly. Physical activities are not only a great way to keep your heart healthy, but the increase in stimulation also promotes neuron growth in the brain and increases the number of synapses in the brain. These two areas are essential to processes essential to different memory functions. Physical exercise also helps blood cells bring oxygen rich blood to the brain.
Just as physical exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy brain, so is mental exercise. Some studies suggest that mental activity helps increase brain plasticity, connections between brain cells and may even lead to the growth of new cells. Great ways to give your brain the exercise it needs include reading, learning new things, doing puzzles, or engaging in creative activities such as drawing or painting.
Monitor Your Diet
It seems that our diet is an integral building block of a healthy lifestyle in general, and the benefits of a healthy diet extend to brain health as well. Eating a balanced, moderate diet with plenty of vitamins (especially B vitamins) and minerals can play a critical role in maintaining brain health into old age.
Foods high in antioxidants such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may be particularly helpful for maintaining a healthy brain. Also, try and limit or eliminate consumption of saturated fats, and avoid or limit drinking and smoking.
Intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been shown to be important to maintaining brain function. In one study, those individuals with the highest levels of DHA in their blood cells enjoy a 47% lower risk of developing dementia (including Alzheimer’s Disease) than those with lower levels. And there are other studies that support the important role that Omega-3s play in brain health.
Manage Health Risks
There exists a wide range of different medical conditions that can contribute to the onset of different brain issues in the future. Conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol or obesity have all been shown to contribute to mental health issues like dementia. If you’re suffering from a condition that may have a link to the health of your brain, it’s important that you monitor, control or eliminate these risks.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Your current mental health can be critical in promoting good mental health in the future. Things such as stress, anxiety or depression can result in cognitive decline, which has immediate and long term effects on brain health.
Get Your Beauty Rest
A good night’s sleep does more than just ensures you wake up feeling well rested. It can also play a critical role in maintaining a healthy brain. Studies have shown that sleeplessness, exhaustion and poor quality sleep lead to decreased memory and learning functions while also lowering the functions of concentration. Be sure you’re getting the proper amount of sleep each night to help support the various brain functions that can be affected by sleep.
Social interaction is great for many reasons. Maintaining an active social life can help aid in memory retention while stimulating conversation and interaction with others help to prevent mental decline. Many studies suggest that actively social individuals experience the slowest rate of mental decline as they get older.
What Types of Diseases and Conditions Can Brain Health Techniques Help Prevent
While there are hundreds of different brain diseases or conditions which can affect all kinds of different people, there are certain diseases for which we have an increased risk of developing as we age. Everyone is at risk of developing these conditions, but brain health techniques can help reduce the likelihood of ending up with these diseases.
Alzheimer’s Disease is a condition that’s characterized by decreases in memory function and judgment gradually over time. Sadly, the condition is irreversible, and scientists and doctors are still unsure of the exact cause of the disease.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder that’s caused by the degeneration of the nerve cells responsible for controlling movement. Over time, Parkinson’s robs patients of their ability to control their bodies as their muscles continue to atrophy and wither away.
Dementia is a disease that occurs when blood flow to the brain is reduced. Dementia results in side effects such as memory loss, impaired judgment, difficulty speaking and a general degradation of the mind’s ability to complete easy everyday tasks.
Suffering a stroke causes a portion of the tissue in the brain to die as a result of reduced blood flow. While many of the symptoms associated with a stroke are reversible, there are cases where a stroke results in other disorders such as dementia or paralysis. Fortunately, a stroke is the easiest of these conditions to protect against by leading a healthy lifestyle.
Create a Plan That Works For You
Mental health and neurodegenerative conditions are serious and can dramatically affect our quality of life as we get older. Now that you’re armed with more information on how to promote a healthy brain, it’s time to implement a plan that fits your lifestyle, to ensure that you’re doing what you can to promote the health of your brain in the future. Be sure you’re providing yourself with the nourishment your brain needs physically, mentally and socially. These healthy brain techniques will pay dividends in the future, and help to keep your brain healthy across your entire lifetime.