Today’s consumer understands that you are what you eat. They know that exercise keeps them strong and flexible. They see the importance of things like liver support and heart health. People are focusing more and more on weight management and aging-well, too. So, what’s missing?
The need for a healthy brain often gets overlooked. If you accept the idea that your brain regulates all of the above, then keeping that organ functioning at peak should be your first concern – whether you are 18 and just getting started or 80 and working to remain independent.
Lifestyle has as much to do with brain health as it does with getting your blood pressure in check or keeping your heart working efficiently. What can you do to support brain health?
The things you already do in your healthy lifestyle benefit the brain, too, such as:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat smart
- Get plenty of sleep
Brain Benefits of Exercise
Exercise gets the blood pumping and that improves blood flow throughout the brain. The increased blood flow triggers better memory and changes in the brain that help you learn, think clearly and feel better about yourself.
Brain Benefits of a Healthy Diet
Diet becomes even more important to brain health as you age. Consider the handlebars on an old bike. At first, they were shiny and bright but after years of sitting in the rain, they become rusty and move slower. The same thing happens to the brain after decades of exposure to environmental factors and life in general.
The right foods help keep the brain rust at bay, such as:
You probably think that the “brain rust” starts to settle in somewhere around age 70, but you'd be wrong. Brain aging begins about the time you turn 30, so don’t put off that healthy diet and lifestyle.
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Sleep is your body’s way of recharging the batteries and making repairs including removing a protein that can build up in the brain and lead to Alzheimer's disease. Beta-amyloid creates amyloid plaques found in the brain of those with the disease.
It’s not clear why the plaques develop only that they appear to cause damage in the brain that leads to dementia. Sleep is a critical part of eliminating the protein that builds into the plaques.
Specific Ways to Improve Brain Health
There are basic things you should do to improve your overall wellness and then there are additional ways to focus on brain health.
Use It Or Lose It
People crave out time for physical exercise each day but they also need to set aside an hour or more for mental fitness exercises. Anytime your brain is learning, it is exercising. Some ways you can give your brain a workout:
- Do puzzles like Sudoku or crosswords
- Take a class
- Learn a new language
- Learn a new skill like a hobby
- Read books regularly
- Write a blog, journal or the great American novel
The goal is to keep your brain actively developing new cells.
Make Use Of Brain Support Supplements
Dietary supplements specially designed for brain health will contain active ingredients that support your most important organ. For example, the extract of Mother Nature’s very own Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus).
This marvelous mushroom contains two special compounds that stimulate the growth of nerves and brain cells, and can relieve mild anxiety and depression. Lion’s Mane is also studied for its neuro-protective properties, such as reducing the symptoms of memory loss, and preventing the neuronal damage of amyloid-beta plaques (which accumulate in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease).
You may also find antioxidants in supplements that support the brain. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it helps to prevent oxidation of cells. Oxidation is thought to be behind many disease states including dementia and brain cancers.
Socialization helps build up the brain just like learning new things. As you socialize, you engage in stimulating conversation, you connect with others and you experience interesting ideas. There is evidence that conversation and socialization can potentially slow brain aging, too, and impact the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Memory care facilities that work specifically with dementia patients incorporate many of these same activities into their care programs. They keep residents busy coloring, playing cards, enjoying BINGO and doing memory games. They provide a social atmosphere for their patients, as well.