You often hear about different ways to keep your heart and lungs healthy, but what about ways to keep your brain in tip top shape?
Whether it’s being good at problem solving, thinking on your feet or remembering things, we all want our brain to be working to the best of its ability.
Research shows that making some simple lifestyle changes can help keep your brain healthy and reduce the risk of developing conditions such as dementia.
Here are some tips to help keep your brain healthy:
1. Get moving
Not only is exercise good for your overall health, it’s also good for your brain health. Evidence shows heart-pumping exercise is the number one thing you can do to improve your brain health. One way exercise can do this is by turning on some of the genes in your brain that keep it healthy.
2. Get enough sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for good brain function. It helps your brain process what you have learned during the day and to remember it later on. Sleep also helps remove waste products from brain cells.
3. Stay connected
Staying socially connected with others has been shown to reduce the risk of developing dementia. As you age, keeping involved and engaged in activities you enjoy is good for you in many ways, not least of all keeping your brain in great shape.
4. Challenge your brain
Try to challenge your brain as often as you can. Learn a new language or skill, like dancing or learning a musical instrument. Take up a new hobby or get stuck into some puzzles. Generating 'mental sweat' helps your brain build new cells and strengthen connections between them.
5. Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and protein from plants and fish is good for the overall health of your body. Research has shown that eating foods with a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and antioxidants supports brain health, which may lead to better mental function. Try including more leafy green veges, fatty fish like salmon and sardines, berries, tea, coffee and walnuts in your diet.
6. Medicines and health conditions
Review the medicines you take with your health professional as some medicines (such as anxiety medication) can affect your thinking. Also, make sure you get help and advice for any health issues you may have. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease can affect your brain health.
If you have any concerns about your mental functioning or would like more information, please contact your GP or healthcare provider.
- Get started with the brain health challenge Alzheimers NZ
- Memory: 5 ways to protect your brain health Johns Hopkins Medicine, US
- The science of sleep: understanding what happens when you sleep Johns Hopkins Medicine, US
- Foods linked to better brain power Harvard Medical School, US
- The hidden risk of hearing loss Johns Hopkins Medicine, US