5 Tips to Keep Your Brain Sharp and Healthy
Our brains constantly change and become “rusty” as we grow older. You are likely to feel a mental decline as you get out of your 30s and reach your 40s; be it in your ability to do quick math in your mind or preserve valuable memories.
While there is a lot of material on the internet that claims to improve your mental abilities within a week and promotes magical potions that can boost your memory from day 2 – these seldom do much good and are usually never backed by science.
However, the good news is that improving mental ability has been the topic of much research and there are several habits you can incorporate into your life for a healthy brain.
Our brains are truly astonishing organs, able to adapt and change even in old age. This remarkable ability is called neuroplasticity and it shows us how the right kinds of stimulations can create new neural pathways that enhance the way we think and react.
So as we can see, cognitive impairment or poor brain health isn’t an inevitable part of aging. By harnessing the true abilities of neuroplasticity, you can improve your mental functioning, enhance your memory, and even work on your brain’s ability to understand and retain new information.
Below, we have compiled 5 tips to keep your brain sharp and healthy – all of which are backed by research and scientific facts.
1. Exercise and Stimulate
Upon reaching adulthood, your brain has already established thousands of neural pathways that are used for everyday functions like quickly recalling your phone number, drafting emails, and even executing daily tasks like cooking or driving (often referred to as muscle memory).
These pathways are well-worn and don’t give your brain the boost of stimulation it needs to keep developing. It’s essential to keep challenging the grey matter every once in a while! The best way to do so is by breaking out of routine and trying out unfamiliar activities that would require the creation of new neural pathways.
Through exhaustive research on the human brain, researchers have deduced that several mental activities can help form new connections in your nervous system and help in the production of brain cells. This directly impacts your neurological activity and enhances it to prevent any loss in brain functioning.
The best activities for mental stimulation need to be:
- Something new for the mind to discover
- Intellectually challenging
- Preferably a skill you can further hone and develop
- Rewarding to trigger a positive mental response
Think of an activity you’ve always wanted to try out but simply didn’t have the time or means for – and then make it happen. It could be anything like learning how to play a musical instrument, dance lessons, German classes, or even craftwork like pottery.
Did you know that exercising regularly doesn’t just keep your body fit; it also helps in achieving a healthy brain.
When you work out, the oxygen levels reaching your brain skyrocket which helps keep it sharp and reduces the risk of memory loss. Exercising also helps the body release chemicals that promote brain activity and reduces stress – all of which boosts your neuronal connections.
Try out aerobic exercise that promotes hand-eye coordination and motor skills and you will immediately feel a significant effect on how your brain functions every day. The best practice is to work out early in the morning to set you up for a productive day.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
We have all heard “you are what you eat”. Well taking in the right kind of fuel for your brain can have magnificent effects on its overall health.
It has been proven that Mediterranean-style foods have brain-boosting effects. These include fruits and veggies, unsaturated fats (nuts and dried fruit), fish, and other plant-based protein.
Just as what you eat is important for a healthy brain, what you don’t eat is of equal significance. Here are a few tips of the best eating practices for your brain:
Focus On the Omega 3 – salmon, tuna, sardines, flaxseed, pinto beans, spinach (guess Popeye was onto something), and soybeans.
Limit Your Saturated Fats Intake – dairy and meat.
Pile Up on the Plants – colorful fruits and green vegetables.
Sip Green Tea – all flavors count.
Controlled Alcohol Intake – red wine
3. Form Meaningful Relationships
You’d be surprised at how big an effect good relationships can have on your brain activity.
While it seems strange that sitting around laughing with friends could be a brain-booster, this Harvard study speaks highly of its endless cognitive benefits.
Humans are social animals and we thrive when not alone. Relationships don’t just help us build emotional intelligence; they also prevent dementia, lower the risk of heart diseases, and increase overall life expectancy.
Time to go hug your little brother, or perhaps even your dog!
4. Get Educated
Another great means of mental stimulation is education.
Many countries around the world have extensive education programs for young learners at risk to develop problem-solving skills and scholastic enhancement which in turn improves brain activity. These give students a stimulating environment to challenge their minds and improve their IQ.
The same theory can be applied to adults when seeking higher education or a master’s degree. It broadens your mind, improves your thinking capacity, and helps maintain a healthy brain.
5. Sleep Well
We can never emphasize enough on the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.
As we know, the brain never shuts off – not even as we sleep. While in slumber, the brain is in reflection mode and trying to make sense of all the new information acquired during the day. This helps in the interpretation and retention of knowledge that your brain might not have fully absorbed before, hence all those eureka! moments right after waking up.
A great sleeping practice includes:
- A regular bedtime schedule
- 7-9 hours of sleep
- No screens at least half an hour before bed
To maintain a sharp and healthy brain, you should practice these tips daily and try to experience new things that excite you and get that blood pumping. For more ideas on how to boost your brain activity, reach out to health experts today!