With proper care our brains can stay healthy and help keep us happy well into our elder years. It’s well-known that taking care of our bodies is important to healthy aging. But what can we do to take care of our brains?
The Alzheimer’s Association has a lot to say on the subject. They cite a two-year randomized controlled trial to prevent cognitive impairment called The Finger Study. It connects heart health to brain health and shows that caring for your heart has a positive effect on brain health, as well.
The brain is one of the body’s most active organs. Even when we sleep it’s working hard. The heart is responsible for pumping 20% of the body’s nutrient-rich and oxygen-filled blood directly to the brain.
Get up and move
Physical exercise is important for brain health in many ways. In fact, a healthy body combined with a heart in tip-top shape can even help slow dementia progression. Challenging exercise looks different for everyone. In general, regularly participating in yoga classes, bike rides, or even a brisk walk are all it takes to help the body remove toxins, raise the heart rate into a safe but faster than normal zone, and increase agility.
Another way to keep your brains healthy throughout life is to pay attention to the level of social engagement we experience. Many people enjoy taking long walks with a neighbor or friend when the weather permits. This can be a wonderful way to combine two brain-healthy habits.
Spend time with friends while learning something new
Staying socially active is easy when you decide to pursue learning. Take a writing class, learn to use woodworking machinery, take music lessons to learn to play an instrument, or volunteer at a local charity organization to make new friends. These are great low-cost ways to give day-to-day life meaning and help your brain regenerate.
Regular social engagement reduces the incidence and severity of depression in seniors. Some studies show that it also helps delay the onset of certain types of dementia.
Dietary restrictions are often an unpleasant part of the aging process. Salt-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, sugar-free, and yeast-free food doesn’t leave us feeling very free.
Eating well is important for a healthy brain. Focus on supporting brain health by enjoying fresh food whenever possible. Berries, green tea, wild salmon, walnuts, olive oil, coffee, spinach, garlic, beets, and dark chocolate are all well-known brain power boosters. Ask your doctor specifically about your favorite foods and focus on what you can have for maximum enjoyment and ultimate brain health.
Aging happens to everyone if we are lucky. There’s no need to accept many of its negative effects. By adopting just a few new habits, we can open up worlds of learning, physical challenges, and enjoy decades of feeling great.