How to Keep Your Brain Healthy as You Age
As we get older, a lot of things about us will start to change. We may notice that we have less energy than we did as a kid, have more health problems, our joints begin to hurt, start taking health supplements, and may move slower than we once did. Another area that can slowly start to degenerate as the years go by is our brain.
Have you begun to notice that you misplace your keys more often or sometimes need help finding the right word to use during a conversation? While this can sometimes be a sign of dementia, small changes in your memory are common as you get older. As they age, most people eventually discover that their brains are not as sharp as they once were.
The good news is you can take some steps to help keep your brain healthy and ensure that it remains as sharp as possible. However, much like keeping your body in peak physical shape, you must be proactive to enjoy all of the benefits. Here are a few things you can do to work out your brain.
Watch the Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol are going to increase your risk of stroke and heart disease, and they are potentially the root cause of certain types of dementia in older patients. A strong heart and good cardiovascular health are associated with better cognitive function – this means that you can keep the brain working strong when you maintain a healthy weight, work on your blood pressure, and monitor your blood sugars and cholesterol levels. Routine visits to the doctor will help you evaluate those levels and will give you the opportunity to discover if there are any problems.
Avoid Smoking and Drinking
While an occasional drink is not a bad thing, if you drink quite a bit or are a smoker, you could be putting your brain health at risk. According to the Alzheimer's Association, if you smoke or drink too much, it even raises the chances for developing dementia over the long term.
Any amount of smoking is a health risk. However, drinks in moderation can be acceptable – according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderation means less than two drinks per day for men and one drink for women when you consume alcohol. Keeping your drinking habits to these guidelines or abstaining completely will serve you well.
Regular physical activity is healthy in so many ways, but it can also help with your brain. Positive habits such as routine exercise is excellent for maintaining the blood flow to the brain while also reducing other health risks, like high blood pressure, that can be associated with dementia.
Studies show that promoting a physically active lifestyle for older adults could help to delay at least one-third of the dementia cases throughout the world. To that end, pick out activities that you love to do and build up your intensity and endurance as time goes on as it will help you to get the most out of any exercise program.
Have a Good Eating Plan
What you eat can make a big difference in your brain health. Filling the body with healthy foods that are good for you can make a difference and help you with your memory and more. Choose foods that contain a ton of good nutrients, such as vitamin E, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, if you want to give your brain a treat that is really good to eat.
There are a few diets that are known to be really good for the brain and can help with maintaining it and giving you more focus. The DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet are always really good for this purpose since both focus on healthy fruits, vegetables, and oils to give the body the nutrients that it needs.
There is also a newer diet that is gaining popularity known as MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), which is able to incorporate all of the positives from both diets into one to help make the brain stronger.
Stimulate the Brain
You need to keep the brain working hard if you want it to stay sharp as you age. Having a job that is mentally stimulating and doing a variety of activities that help to engage the brain can do wonders for building up the cognitive reserve or the ability for the brain to function well, even through challenges and brain diseases.
You can also work to keep your brain active by learning new skills. Even as you age, there are new skills that you can learn along the way. For example, learn to speak a new language, do a new skill, or work on a new piece of technology. This keeps the brain active and working hard so that it is able to maintain the strong working connections that it needs while you age.
If you do nothing with your brain, it will start to fail and not do that well. But when you give it some challenges, through your job, through learning a new skill, through puzzles and other games, you will find that it stays sharp and will work for years to come.
The Bottom Line
Your brain is one of your most important assets, so it is vital to make sure that it stays strong and functions well throughout your life. Staying hydrated and getting IV therapy every once in a while can be a major benefit to the body. While a bit of cognitive decline is standard and part of aging, if you worry that the brain is forgetting more and more each day, you can take action to strengthen it once more.
Taking care of the brain with good exercise, maintaining good health, and stimulating it each day will give you an edge over aging. You will soon find that you can fight off some of the common problems that develop over time and even improve certain aspects with a little proactive care. Remember, if you begin working your brain early, there is an even greater chance that you can avoid some of the unpleasant symptoms entirely.