- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
How to Keep Your Brain Healthy
When considering getting into shape, most people think about reaching their ideal weight with the proper muscle/fat proportions. But a healthy brain is just as important as a healthy body because it is vital to all our activities. If we could see what happens to our brain as we age, it could be compared to the body slowly getting heavy and out of shape due to inactivity, a lifestyle of unhealthy eating, and lack of proper nutrition.
When the brain is out of shape, thinking and remembering are more difficult. Research has found that exercising your brain will help keep it healthy longer and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias later in life. Mental decline as you grow older has to do with the connections among brain cells. Keeping your brain active may build connections and even generate new brain cells.
Research has also found that low levels of education have been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s later in life, which may be due to low levels of life long mental stimulation. Higher levels of education appear to be more protected against Alzheimer's because the brain cells and their connections are stronger. Involvement in cultural activities, close personal relationships and emotional support and sports appear to protect against dementia.
One study showed that men and women over the age of 75 who engaged in physical, mental or emotional activity had a lower risk of developing dementia. Physical exercise encourages blood flow to the brain and new brain cells. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise but is most effective when done regularly in combination with a healthy diet, social or mental activity. Aerobic exercise is very beneficial because it improves oxygen consumption, which benefits brain function and prevents the loss of brain cells.
Keep your brain active every day
Here is a list of the best mental exercises to exercise the brain and keep it healthy: Commit to life long learning, begin reading something different than what you normally read, writing, attending lectures, taking courses for adults, memorization, playing games that rely on logic, math and word skills, learning new skills, changing your routine to challenge your thinking, training your brain to work faster and better, solving crossword puzzles and forcing yourself to spend more time developing relationships by turning off the television.
Combine physical and mental activity with a healthy diet
One long term study showed that middle aged people who were obese were twice as likely to develop dementia later in life and those with high blood pressure and cholesterol had six times the risk of demetia. Eliminate foods that are high in unhealthy fats such as hydrogenated oils and trans-fats. Healthy fats that promote HDL cholesterol have been found to help protect brain cells.
Foods(especially green, leafy and cruciferous vegetables) that research has found to protect brain cells are spinach, alfalfa, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beets, red bell peppers, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, plums, raisins, prunes, kale, red grapes, cherries onions, corn, eggplant and oranges. Supplements that are effective for improving brain health are Vitamin C, E and B12.