Mental Well-Being

Brain Health 101

September 27, 2022

With the rising cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, it’s no wonder brain health is on everyone’s mind. The truth is you don’t need to wait until you get your AARP card to start taking good care of your brain. In fact, the earlier you start making healthy lifestyle choices, the better off you will be.

No better time than the present.

Maintaining a healthy brain is incredibly important in living a healthy life, and there is no better time to start taking care of yourself than right now. You may have heard of trendy superfoods guaranteed to keep you sharp. Or those apps on your phone that test your mental prowess and claim to keep dementia at bay. In truth, there are many things you can do that are both enjoyable and great for your brain health. Not only that, but most choices that you make in the name of a healthy brain also equate to a healthier body overall and, therefore, longevity. 

Start with eating right.

One of the best ways we can prevent disease is eating a healthy, whole foods diet. This goes for brain disease as well as a host of other chronic diseases. It shouldn’t come as a shock that many diseases impacting the body, such as diabetes, are being shown to have a direct link to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Eating right helps you to maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, all of which are vital for brain health.  

Keep your mind sharp by cutting out junk food. Instead of going for that bag of chips, head to the produce aisle of your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Fresh fruits and vegetables pack a nutritional punch that can keep you full and focused, and feed your brain all the goodies it needs. Nuts, seeds, and whole grains are great options, too. And don’t forget about other lean proteins like fish, chicken, beans, and tofu. Keep the pre-packaged junk to a minimum to experience maximum health. 

Now get some shut-eye.

Sleep deprivation is a little-known health risk for dementia disorders. Our brains require sleep to heal and reset. When we miss out on even a little bit, we feel foggy or groggy. Imagine, then, the consequences of missing out on sleep over the course of months or even years. Try to maintain a consistent sleep routine that allows a good 7-to-9-hour stretch. Make sure to see a doctor for any sleep disorders such as apnea, which can starve the brain of much needed oxygen. 

Get some movement.

Exercise, along with a healthy diet and proper sleep, can keep your whole body healthy, including your brain. Exercise improves circulation and delivers fresh oxygen into the bloodstream, keeping your mind sharp and your brain at peak performance. You don’t have to run a marathon to reap the benefits, either. Simple exercises such as walking, swimming, gentle water aerobics, and light weight-lifting are excellent for whole body movement no matter your age. 

Use it or lose it.

Those apps on your phone are right. Using your brain to problem solve or create is a great way to stay sharp and keep dementia at bay. That doesn’t mean you need to solve the world’s toughest crossword, though. Enjoying a hobby you love, such as bird watching or knitting, taking up a new activity, and using your imagination to create are also great ways to work that mental muscle. If you are having fun doing it and truly enjoy it, you will get even more out of it because you are more likely to participate.

Stay social.

Speaking of hobbies and interests, socializing with others is imperative to good brain health. Studies have shown time and again that we humans are social creatures, thriving through relationships with others. When we don’t have this important piece in place in our lives, we not only experience higher levels of stress, but we can get physically ill. Our mental health declines as well. So, stay sharp by maintaining a vibrant social life well into your senior years. 

Brain health should be at the top of everyone’s list of concerns. If we don’t have a healthy mind, we see a decrease in our quality of life. Take care of your body by eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, using your mind, and maintaining healthy relationships, and you will be on track for lifelong wellness and longevity. If you’re not sure where to start or have specific concerns about brain health, talking with a doctor is a good idea.

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