Why Is Brain Health Important?
The brain is the most complex and crucial organ in the body. Though scientists are still researching the complex aspects of how our brain works, maintaining good brain health is crucial for optimal cognitive, psychological, emotional, and behavioral functioning in the body.
People suffering from neurodegenerative disorders experience memory loss, mood swings, forgetfulness, anxiety, etc. How can we protect cognitive function as we age? Is it possible to maintain the youthfulness of the brain and improve cognitive functions? Research shows yes.
We can reduce cognitive impairment and keep the brain active and young by adopting a brain-healthy lifestyle. A balanced and nutrient-rich diet, regular physical exercise, mental stimulation exercise, and de-stressing may improve our brain health. Here, we discuss the main factors to help you achieve powerful cognitive function.
7 Tips to Keep Your Brain Healthy
A healthy brain is an extension of a healthy body. Some of the approaches to a healthy brain include exercise, diet, rest, de-stressing, improving overall health, and nurturing social engagements, etc.
- Brain Health and Exercise: How Exercise Affects Your Brain?
Regular exercise holds the key to excellent cognitive fitness. Exercise accelerates heart rate that sends more oxygen to the brain. A sedentary lifestyle is known to trigger cognitive decline. A study published in 2017 indicates a link between a sedentary lifestyle and brain health. It shows that moderate to vigorous exercise supports brain health in adults.
Do you know how exercise affects your brain? The brain gains a lot from moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. If you can’t do aerobics, even regular brisk walking can positively impact brain health.
Regular exercise supports the growth of new blood vessels in brain zones, where neurogenesis takes place. Blood vessels provide increased blood flow in these areas, promoting the development of neurons. Exercise also keeps blood vessels active and functional, ensuring an adequate blood supply to the brain tissues.
Brain fog is a sign of cognitive weakness. If you experience loss of memory, lack of concentration, or fuzzy thinking, exercise can help you deal with these symptoms. Performing aerobic exercise for 30 mins per week will help you with better focus and cognitive activities. Exercise stimulates different parts of the brain and triggers the release of the BDNF chemical and specific neurotransmitters. These help increase alertness, focus, and concentration.
Exercise activates the release of growth factors. Growth factors keep brain cells healthy, regulate the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and ensure the survival of new brain cells in adequate numbers.
Regular exercise strengthens and enlarges the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex that prevent degenerative conditions.
Evidence shows that physical activities and exercise can increase brain plasticity. In one study, researchers showed a clear connection between physical activity and brain health.
Sleep Well for A Healthy Brain
If you think that sleeping means wasting hours with zero productivity, think again! A good night’s sleep is essential for clear thinking, sharp memory, and proper brain functioning. Recent research indicates that sleep deficit can result in brain fog, neurodegenerative diseases, and poor cognitive health. Research shows how sleep apnea affects the brain.
Experts are conducting further studies to understand better the restorative power of sleep and its impact on brain health and cognitive functions. While sleeping, the brain flushes out toxins that accumulate during the waking hours, whereas sleep deprivation aggravates the concentration of harmful plaques in the brain.
Keep Your Brain Sharp with New, Complex Challenges
Memory loss is a common problem among older adults. Staying mentally active, you can keep your brain healthy. Maintain brain plasticity by joining a new activity that requires learning, thinking, and practicing. A new hobby that requires brain-training activities improves cognitive skills in humans. An activity such as a word puzzle or learning a new language that challenges the brain and involves critical thinking and problem solving will improve your cognitive skills.
A Healthy Brain Does Not Allow Stress
Recent studies show that stress affects brain functions and is bad for the brain. When you are under a lot of stress, it affects cognition, attention, and memory. If you have difficulty with your memory, feeling anxious, or suffering mood disorders, your brain signals trouble coping with stress. Finding ways to de-stress and managing your stress will improve your brain health. Exercise, meditation, taking a stroll in a park, deep breathing, and taking a break from digital devices may help you de-stress.
Stay Active, Work Longer, Train Your Brain
Thinking of retiring early? Wrong decision. Postponing retirement may benefit your brain health. People who delay retirement may have a reduced risk of dementia. Staying cognitively active is vital for boosting brain health.
Want A Healthy and Active Brain? Listen To Music
According to the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) report, music can support brain health. It invigorates different regions in the brain and helps improve cognitive skills. Music also helps you to de-stress and promotes sleep. Since sleep is related to brain health, you can use music to improve sleep quality and duration.
The Best Brain Foods for a Healthy Brain
Does a diet for a healthy brain exist? Yes, it does. It is known as the MIND diet. MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. A study shows how the MIND diet could slow down cognitive decline. It instigates the consumption of brain-friendly foods and limits the consumption of unhealthy foods. It is composed of nuts, berries, green leafy vegetables, and fish. The diet does not recommend red meat, sweets, butter, cheese, and processed foods.
If you don’t want to follow a specific diet, here are your best brain foods for improving brain health.
- Tea and coffee: If you deal with a lot of stress and can’t sleep well, start the day with some brain-boosting caffeine. The caffeine in your coffee or tea is good for boosting your cognitive function. One study details how caffeine influences alertness, mood, and cognitive performance.
- Plant-based diet: Leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and kale are rich in nutrients such as vitamin K, beta carotene, folate, and lutein. These nutrients are beneficial for brain health. An investigative study shows one serving of green leafy vegetables per day can slow the cognitive decline associated with aging.
- Fatty fish: Fatty fish such as salmon, cod, anchovies, light-canned tuna, sardine, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are PUFA and beneficial for heart and brain health.
- Nuts and berries: Nuts are an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. Clinical trials have proven that the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts has improved plasma BDNF concentrations among depressed patients. Nut consumption may be used as an adjunct therapeutic strategy for addressing many neurodegenerative diseases.
Berries, as human clinical trials indicate, may slow the rate of cognitive decline. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary supplementation with nuts and berries helps improve cognitive performance.
- Flavanol-rich food: If you love drinking hot chocolate, pat yourself for consuming a flavanol-rich ingredient that may boost your cognitive health. Flavanol-enriched drinks and diets consisting of cocoa, berries, kale, tea, and grapes may enhance memory performance. One study shows that a high-flavanol mediation could improve the age-related DG dysfunction in older adults.
- Probiotics: Research shows that gut and brain are linked and form a gut-brain axis. A study investigates gastrointestinal and mental health symptoms and how these are interrelated.
Additionally, stick to a heart-healthy diet that is also good for your brain. Staying away from saturated fat, keeping blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels in control will help you keep your brain in good shape.
Extra Tip for Boosting Brain Health – What You Need to Know
For improving brain health, you may consider taking OTC brain health supplements. But the problem with the OTC brain boosters is that the FDA does not evaluate them. As all memory supplements are not created equally, it is crucial to carefully read the labels and consult a doctor before starting a supplement. Also, you should find out the credibility of the company and user reviews to feel the general vibe around the product.
Experts recommend purchasing brain health supplements that contain Omega-3 fatty acids, Ginkgo Biloba extract, vitamin E, and B vitamins. Though it is always recommended to get the required nutrients from a healthy diet, some products may work. Youthful Brain, a natural cognitive enhancement supplement, claims to revitalize a tired, aging brain.
Youthful Brain contains Bacopa Monnieri and Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract. These traditional medicinal Ayurvedic herbs may act as potent memory enhancers. One study shows Bacopa Monnieri has a vast potential in improving cognitive disorders.
Reviews show that the product may be able to address memory problems. But if you decide to go for it, talk to your physician about the product.
Positive reviews may be tempting, but don’t ignore the other seven ways to keep your brain healthy and active. They work long-term.
When you have a healthy brain, you can think clearly and perform complex tasks. You can conveniently plan, recall past events, learn new skills, and enjoy an active life. Taking care of your brain is essential for living a quality life. The 7 brain-boosting tips above will help think sharp for longer.
Author Bio: Sophia Anthony is a freelance writer and blogger, covering health and fitness topics through visual representation. She is very passionate about general health and beauty. Apart from work she likes dancing and listening to music. You can also contact her on Facebook, and Instagram.