Keeping the Brain Healthy as You Age
Have you ever walked into a room only to realize that you can’t remember why you went there? Sometimes that is called a “senior brain moment.” Just as there are ways to keep the body fit and healthy as we age, there are ways to keep the brain young and healthy.
Improve Your Diet
Studies show that diets like Whole30 or the Mediterranean Diet that are rich in fish, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, olives, and nuts help keep the brain healthy. Essential fatty acids, such as Omega 3s, are beneficial in treating such brain-sapping ailments as depression. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, strong antioxidants that improve blood flow to the brain and reduce inflammation. Unsweetened cocoa powder offers the greatest benefit, followed by dark chocolate. Make sure to include healthy herbs and spices such as turmeric, cinnamon and ginger which are packed with antioxidants that decrease harmful inflammation.
Keep Blood Pressure Low
High blood pressure in midlife increases the risk of cognitive decline in old age. Modify your life style with regular exercise, diet, and stress reduction to keep your pressure as low as possible.
Laugh A Lot
We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine and that is proving to be true. Laughter releases “happiness hormones” such as serotonin and dopamine. Not only will you feel better but you will lower your stress level, depression and anxiety.
Learn Something New
Studies show that learning new skills, and gaining new knowledge improve working memory and cognitive function. Accepting the challenge of learning to knit or paint, learning computer skills or a second language is good for the brain and fun. Learning new skills improves cognitive skills, visual comprehension, short and long-term memory and attention to detail.
What you read is not important, what matters is that you engage in this practice on a regular basis. Reading forces you to focus on a specific task, forming logical connections and even discovering new words. Moreover, it can be extremely relaxing, allowing you to let go of all your worries.
Listen to and Play Music
Studies show that listening to and playing music can make you smarter, happier, healthier and more productive at all stages of life. Listening to upbeat music can improve your mood, and listening to sad music can be cathartic. Listening to and playing music also reduces stress by triggering your body to release a hormone called cortisol as well as the neurotransmitter dopamine, the brain’s “motivation molecule” which is an integral part of the pleasure-reward system. Dopamine is the brain chemical responsible for the feel-good states obtained from eating chocolate, orgasm, and runner’s high. You can increase dopamine by listening to a playlist that’s being shuffled. When one of your favorite songs unexpectedly comes up, it triggers a small dopamine boost.
Have Good Friends
People who have strong social ties have been associated with a lower risk of dementia, as well as lower blood pressure and longer life expectancy.
Slower thinking and the risk of dementia are both linked to getting inadequate sleep. You should sleep between seven to nine hours per night. Avoid using sleep medications if possible and instead create a healthy sleep routine, relaxing and settling down at a regular bedtime. Avoid the over stimulation of intense on-line videos, movies and TV. Create a regular bedtime routine, trying to relax and then get to bed at the same time each night.