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10 Ways to Improve Brain Health

Men playing chessDid you know that your brain is always changing? That’s the one constant about the most complex organ we have that controls every part of us. “Brain plasticity” is the process of the brain to learn new information, grow new connections and repair broken ones. Throughout life, as we age, acquire knowledge and have more experiences, our brain continues to develop.

The good news is that there are several things you can do to keep your brain functioning its best as you grow wiser.

  1. Try a new activity. It could be learning to play an instrument, figuring out a puzzle, learning a language or a new hobby. Something that actively stimulates your brain.
  2. Feed your brain with healthy nutritious food that stimulates brain function. Some good ones include: fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, unsaturated oils (olive oil) and proteins from plant sources.
  3. Keep moving. Physical activity is good for your body and mind as it can increase oxygen flow as well as the growth of new nerve cells and connections, or synapses, between brain cells. Exercise also lowers blood pressure and can improve cholesterol levels while reducing stress. So many benefits make it a no-brainer “must” for brain health.
  4. Sleep well.During sleep, your brain works overtime to repair itself, so don’t skip the shut-eye. Too much sleep, though, can lead to negative consequences such as inactivity and obesity.
  5. Get social. Creating and nurturing connections with others keeps life fun and interesting, and has been linked to lower blood pressure, lower risk of dementia and longer life expectancy.
  6. Manage your blood pressure. Having high blood pressure can lead to cognitive decline as well as heart problems.
  7. Manage your blood sugar. Diabetes is a risk factor for dementia, so eat right, exercise and maintain a healthy weight. If you have high blood sugar, follow your doctor’s recommendations to keep it under control.
  8. Limit alcohol. Excessive alcohol use is a major risk factor for dementia.
  9. Protect your head. Head injuries increase the risk of impaired brain function. Avoid falls, wear a helmet when biking or skiing, remove potential hazards from your path and use good lighting.
  10. Manage stress. Excessive worry and stress has been shown to lower performance on cognitive tests. Try yoga, meditation, taking a walk or listening to music to relax and clear your head. Then you can focus on the cause and a plan to address it.

To learn more about brain health, cognitive function, types of diagnostic tests or when forgetfulness could be a concern, talk to your doctor. To find a physician or specialist in your area, complete the form on this page.

SOURCES: 

https://acl.gov/sites/default/files/news%202016-10/BrainHealthKeyFactsResources.pdf

https://brainhealth.nia.nih.gov/engage-your-brain

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/12-ways-to-keep-your-brain-young

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