The older we get the more our brains work to keep us functioning. Most people are preoccupied with working out their bodies to get them into old age but don’t realise that the brain needs to work out too to maintain its optimal functioning. All that needs to be done is to incorporate lifestyle changes to your regular behaviour during adulthood to make a significant change to your brain health as you get older. These lifestyle changes have the ability to keep you alert, rational and creative and have been shown to reduce the chances of getting certain brain diseases in old age. These simple habits when they become a part of your lifestyle can protect positively impact your brain power.
A healthy diet isn’t just essential for maintaining a healthy body, it is important to maintain brain health as well. For changes to your diet to be consistent, you should start with small changes that become habits before you realise it. Choose to take water instead of soda can benefit both your body and your brain over the years. In the same vein, swapping out coffee for green tea means that you get the benefits of the reduced caffeine and extra antioxidants that are present in green tea. Avoiding smoked meat and foods known to be high in mercury such as tuna fish or swordfish will protect the brain from oxidants that are known to damage brain cells. Small consistent changes can be maintained over time to form a habit that benefits the brain in the long term. Incorporate vegetables, olive oil and fish oil into your diet to promote brain health and halt the brain’s cognitive decline.
Increase Physical Activity
It is good to get enough rest and eat healthily but there’s more you can do to boost your brain power. Exercise. Increasing your activity levels through aerobic activities has been shown to stimulate brain cell growth and boost memory. It also makes the brain easily grow new neuronal connections. Exercise has been proven to have similar effects to a low dose of antidepressants on the brain. It also causes a reduction in stress hormones. About 105 of aerobic exercise every week is enough to show significant improvements.
Step out of your Comfort Zone
The brain thrives when it is stimulated and challenged constantly and one way to do that is trying new ways to do old things. The brain is not hard-wired and habits can be unlearned and replaced with new habits. The theory of neuroplasticity refers to the fact that the brain grows new neural pathways and synapses in response to environmental and behavioural stimulus. Spending time with people of different generations, backgrounds and cultures while keeping an open mind also boosts the brain power.
Get Enough Sleep
The brain needs sleep more than any organ in the body. Even though we are dead to the world while asleep, the brain works in the background putting things right. The glymphatic system cleanses the brain of neurotoxins while we sleep. It is a time-consuming process so it is important to get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night to avoid the accumulation of sleep debt and give the brain enough time to self-cleanse. A build-up of neurotoxins in the brain has been linked to degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Keep your Social Life Full
Although human beings are social in nature, the older we get, the smaller our social circles get as well. The end result is that older people experience reduced levels of daily social interactions. An active social life that is filled with friends and family has been linked to better cognitive health. A comparison of aged people with who more socially active to those with less social activity showed a difference in their cognitive decline of about 70%. This significant difference shows that social activity is crucial to proper brain functioning. Exercising the brain frequently by increased social activity has also been shown to ward off depression and a negative outlook on life.
Lonely people also show an increased alertness to threats and dangers because a brain that is not frequently exposed to varying social situations will treat any new social stimulation as foreign and hence react like it is a threat. This makes the brain more defensive and prone to negativity making it a continuous circle of negativity.
The body and the brain would benefit from exercise and brain training is the best way to keep the brain healthy and younger for years.