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How to Keep Your Brain Healthy

Updated on April 24, 2014

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.

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    • profile image

      cross heart 6 years ago

      good article

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 6 years ago

      I agree that exercise is best. And eat bunch of antioxidants and omega-3 and good fats -- the brain is mostly fat. Eat fish, blueberries, walnuts, olive oil, olives, avocados.

      In addition, I personally take alpha-lipoic acid, acetyl-l-carnitine, Co-Q10, and astaxanthin for brain health. But that's up to you.

    • profile image

      Jeremy9000 6 years ago

      Thank you for posting this article. It really helped me with a human body project in school.

    • stuff4you profile image

      stuff4you 7 years ago

      Also, obese people have an average of 7 points lower on an IQ test.

    • heart4theword profile image

      heart4theword 7 years ago from hub

      Wow, I thought it was intersting, that even being overweight can effect your brain in a negative way? After reading this hub, I get that hub-reading in general is good for the brain:) Awesome Hub! Great Job:)

    • joecseko profile image

      Joe Cseko jr 7 years ago from New York, USA, Earth

      Steve, again you've blown me away. I'm spending my evening rifling through your work, keeping my own brain from atrophying. To me, you stand far above the crowd here on Hub Pages. May not seem like much, but if it means anything, I'm NOT easily impressed.

      To pull back on topic: Most people aren't aware that the brain does atrophy over time. Everyone wants to eat Ginko that they bought at a supermarket and call it a day. The brain needs to be stimulated!

      Just like the body, where there are many muscle groups, the brain has many "compartments". Reasoning, reactions, problem solving, logic, emotion- the list goes on. The whole brain needs to be kept fresh.

    • HubCrafter profile image

      HubCrafter 7 years ago from Arizona

      Hi Steve:

      So my theory that my fat, broadening butt will make my wrinkled brain become dry as the desert air and just as empty...is TRUE. This is horrible, man. (sob)

      Obviously... I just need a moisturizer with zinc.

      JK.

      Trying to get this rattle-trap brain going this morning, lol.

      Good read. Thanks.

      HubCrafter

    • stevemark122000 profile image
      Author

      stevemark122000 7 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for your comment Ruthann!

      Here's a good one

      http://get.games.yahoo.com/proddesc;_ylc=X3IDMgRtc...

    • profile image

      Ruthann Albrecht  7 years ago

      Dear Steve, I was injured in an automobile accident in 3/79 when I was 16. I was unconscious for 7-9mnths.-2yrs. before I could piece anything together. I still have some memory problems, quick thinking and moving, a Left-brain injury made me to favor my right side, switched to my left-hand when writing. I had a Brain-Stem Injury.

      I swam twice a week to build my muscles, therapy at Rehab.and

      crawling, jumping on trampolines while reading letters and others, arm exercises to force the shaking out,and others I don't remember. I married in 88', babies came, really got me to thinking hard and fast, now they are in college. I need to get a job but I've been out of the workforce so long, I don't know where to start, especially with work hard to find for non-brain-injured people. I know the more I read, keep the house with all that's needed,also advise our young-adults I still need to get a job, but am not sure of my abilities so don't know what to go for, so could you help me. Dr. Walter from the Cleveland University Hospital

      said Brain-Stimulation might damage my brain, just to keep doing whatever I can, but I don't think I'm fast enough yet. Could you post some games that require fast-thinking?

    • Kimberly Bunch profile image

      Kimberly Bunch 8 years ago from EAST WENATCHEE

      Great Hub! Here's one you might like: http://hubpages.com/hub/depressionanddating

    • profile image

      audrey 8 years ago

      Great stuff, thank you, this has helped me with my school work in Gerontlogy..

    • stephanie mclain profile image

      Stephanie 8 years ago from Texas

      I do crossword puzzles each day, it's something I picked up when I was younger because my grandmother and great aunt were obsessive about their puzzles. :) It just stuck with me over the years.

      It's a good thing though because those two women are the sharpest set of sisters I've ever met and they are both in good health and in their 70's.

      Another great hub Steve! Well done.

    • profile image

      Big Blue 8 years ago

      Great hub, Steve! I'd like to add a few suggestions. First and foremost you want to supplement with vitamin D to keep mentally sharp. There is a huge body of research which shows a connection between brain function, mental, health, and having sufficient vitamin D. You want to have a blood level of 50 ng/mL as measured by the 25(OH)D blood test. For most people that requires taking 5000 IU a day but some need more and some need less. Personally I take 10,000 IU a day because my blood test came in a little low when I took 5000 IU.

      Big Blue

    • profile image

      marmmoo 8 years ago from MEQUON, WI.

      Great stuff, I'm looking forward to viewing more of your stuff, most just assume that if your bodies healthy , everythings fine. We all have to keep learning, and give the grey matter the workout it deserves, so we can enjoy what life has to offer, for many years to come.

    • Lynn Byrne profile image

      Lynn Byrne 8 years ago from Daytona Beach Florida

      There is a common thread in optimal health and it seems to be fruits and vegetables. I recently began a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and my energy and mental alertness have skyrocketed. I've gained an hour a day of mental and physical energy.

      Thanks for another useful Hub Steve.

    • Great Caruso profile image

      Great Caruso 8 years ago from USA

      Great info here Steve, will start implementing your advice ASAP

    • mjmbug profile image

      mjmbug 8 years ago

      Thank you for this hub, i Just wish i could get my hubby to take this advise.  I wonder how well this works for people whose brains are already compromised.  I also was happy to hear that alfalfa helps as I using it for improving my immune system and nerve regeneration.   Its good to know its brain food too.  I'll add it to my husband's vitamins.

      http://www.shaklee.net/readyfor_retirement/prodHou

    • razvan_razvan profile image

      razvan_razvan 8 years ago from romania

      Thank u for this useful information :). I have to admit, sometimes I do get a little lazy and sit the entire day in front of the computer :"> but there are times when I go to the gym and I play sports. As for the brain, well I play a lot of chess, I read a lot, I study self help materials all the time, I study comunication and seduction, relationships and business and marketing :) I think all these things should protect me from going crazy when I'll be old. (by the way, I'm only 20 so I have a long way to go :D)

    • Netters profile image

      Netters 8 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

      Very informative. Another great hub. Thank you.

    • BrainFire profile image

      BrainFire 8 years ago from The Island

      Brain!?...Who Said...Brain....I have a Brain....lol

      That would be me...BrainFire...I picked that name cause my Brain really is on Fire...lol

      Great Hub! :)

      Well I guess Scare Crow won't be showing up... Smiles from LI! :)

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 8 years ago

      I guess this hub is meant only for those with brains ... sigh!

    • Sascha H profile image

      Sascha H 8 years ago from The Netherlands

      Now a days, my wife and I like to play " Big Brain Academy " on the Wii console..I'm getting smarter every day ;-) Anyway..an informative hub again Steve.

    • jdh351 profile image

      jdh351 8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      There are definitely some important points to consider in this hub. Thanks for publishing it.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States

      Love the hub! I'm going to make my husband read it, as some of your suggestions are ones I think he'd take to heart.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Good info, Steve. I'm so happy that I my family are so mentally fit! We're big readers, love word games and MOST of us eat well and exercise regularly. Now if I can just get a few of them away from their trust in OTCs.

      There's no proof (although many in the medical and scientific communities seriously suspect) and I'm sure many hubbers with medical knowledge will tell me I'm crazy, but I firmly believe there is a link between Alzheimer's, dementia, etc, and the microscopic build-up of chemicals in the brain from a life-long intake of pills, which only increase as most people age. Prescriptions, OTCs, whatever. And I predict it will get much worse before it gets better, as there is now a pill for everything one could possibly think of.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

      Excellent advice! Thank you! :)

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Never thought of that. Thanks for the info.

    • profile image

      mahrina 8 years ago

      Yah its really very helpful whenever I am given some mathametical logical question while attempting I feel myself that my brain starts working and until I solve it I dont feel relax thus I try to solve it fast.and my brain than works fast. yes this article is useful.

    • Kulsum Mehmood profile image

      Dr Kulsum Mehmood 8 years ago from Nagpur, India

      Hi again steve, I read somewhere that ajinomoto which is used to prepare chinese food is toxic to the brain. Also aspartane which is present in sugar substitutes is toxic to the brain. Is this a myth or truth. Please comment. Thank you again.

    • Kulsum Mehmood profile image

      Dr Kulsum Mehmood 8 years ago from Nagpur, India

      Thanks steve for a great hub. Almonds and walnuts are also good for maintaining brain function.

      Very educative hub. Thanks

    • Lynne and Chad profile image

      Lynne and Chad 8 years ago

      What a great Hub Steve! Thanks for always putting out such valuable and important information.

      We are so passionate about being life long learners and recognize the impact it has on our life in so many ways :)

      Lynne and Chad

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 8 years ago

      GREAT Hub Steve!! Thank you for sharing!!

      I do my best to keep this blonde brain of mine in top performance mode!!

      Happy Thanksgiving!!

      Blessings always, Earth Angel!!

    • hubby7 profile image

      hubby7 8 years ago from Chicago

      Excellent post, Stevemark. I enjoyed reading it. It complements my own article on keeping the brain healty. Again, great job!

      hubby7