Research shows that a healthy lifestyle with proper Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep, Stress management, social engagement, brain engagement can improve your brain function and help you maintain your brain health as you age.
Train your brain with daily exercise:
Just as we lose the muscle in our body over time, our brains can diminish as well – and just as weight workouts add lean muscle to the body, performing regular brain exercises can increase the brain’s cognitive reserves. In researching the brain scans of older adults, findings show that physically active people maintain their motor skills better than those who are sedentary, and that physical activity can help build cognitive reserve that serves to protect motor function from age-related brain damage. “The brain thrives on novel learning,” says Dr. Kristen Willeumier. “In order to slow down brain aging, you want to continually expose it to new stimuli. Passivity can lead to atrophy – it pays dividends to keep the mind active.”
Among Dr. Kristen Willeumier’s brain exercise tips:
Memorization – memorize a passage from a book, make it a point to remember phone numbers or your grocery list – the key is to make it challenging for maximum mental stimulation. Put the Smart phone down and use your brain to recall information. Take up a new language in support of reducing the risk of cognitive decline. Build your hand-eye coordination by engaging in a new hobby that involves fine-motor skills such as knitting, drawing or painting. Exercising your brain can also include taking a cooking class, learning to play a musical instrument, or challenging your taste buds by identifying individual ingredients in a meal. Physical exercise works the brain by stimulating the growth of neurons and new neural pathways, so engage in various forms of activity including running, swimming, biking, dancing, hiking and golf.
Nourish the brain through a healthy diet:
Diet is a powerful factor that affects our thinking and our mood in youth through adulthood – and can impact long-term brain health as we age. Foods that support optimal brain functioning include green leafy vegetables, fruits and berries, nuts and seeds, beans, whole grains, fish and poultry and brain healthy fats. Dr. Kristen Willeumier has observed that significant protection against cognitive impairment can be accomplished by consuming these food groups consistently. Alternatively, foods to minimize in the diet include red meat, butter and margarine, dairy and cheese, processed foods, gluten and refined sugar. By reducing intake of these food groups, you will be supporting the maintenance of your brain’s cognitive reserves.
Manage daily stress:
We will always have stress in our lives. However, how we manage chronic stress can have a significant impact on our brain health. According to Dr. Kristen Willeumier, regular meditation has been shown to increase brain volume and is a wonderful stress management technique that can serve to keep you happier and healthier for years and years to come. Here are other stress-reduction tips for maximum long-term brain health: Make daily stress reduction a priority –find quiet time for yourself where you take a break from technology. Live in the present moment – don’t ruminate on negative thoughts that don’t serve you. Engage all of your senses in your daily activities – take a few minutes each day to experience the sights, sounds and scents present in your environment. Train your brain to think positively – learn techniques to reduce negative thoughts such as self-doubt. Be curious and explore new things – let go of expectations and the fear and anxiety that typically accompany them. Find meaning and purpose in your life – take time to explore the larger vision of what you wish to accomplish. And keep anxiety provoking situations in perspective – focus on the specific problem at hand and what you can do to solve it, do not get overwhelmed by the unknown.
Set the intention to get a restful sleep:
When we sleep, parts of our brain remains active, including the glymphatic system which has been shown to clear out and recycle the brain’s toxins. As a result, sleep deprivation is a factor than can lead to accelerated brain aging and research has shown that chronic sleeplessness can lead to irreversible brain damage. Studies have led scientists to conclude that chemicals secreted during the deeper stages of sleep are crucial for repairing the body — including the brain.