From our earliest years, we are all taught the importance of taking care of our bodies. However, very little attention is paid to our brain health as an area of focus.
As our lifespans continue to increase, our cognitive wellness becomes an even more important issue. In our later years especially, our brain health will become a critical factor in our quality of life. So with that in mind, what determines how to keep your brain healthy?
In this article, we will outline 5 ways to maintain and improve your brain health. We will cover tactics for how to keep your brain sharp, increase mental stimulation, and improve brain function.
Caring for your brain requires a mind, body, spirit approach. In other words, we will discuss not only nutrition and science, but also brain health exercises and spiritual practices. When combined with supplementation, these factors all work together to promote a 'brain-healthy' lifestyle.
1. Learn Something New
There are certain types of mental activities you can do that actually stimulate the growth of brain cells (neurons). This process is called neurogenesis. One way to do that is the simple act of learning new things. By trying out activities that involve acquiring and processing new information, you can actually promote long-term brain health and improve your overall brain performance.
If you're wondering what kind of activities to do, think about it this way: what have you always wanted to do that involves learning a new skill? You might take a dance class or learn a new language. You could try learning to play an instrument, or take a up a new hobby. Learning new things is a fantastic way to maintain your brain health as you age. So get creative!
You knew this one was coming! Exercise is immensely important for your brain health. Did you know that exercising promotes the brain's gray matter? Not only that, but when we work out we actually increase the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain, which helps fuel your cells. This increase in oxygen will actually give you an uptick in mental sharpness and can also help older adults have fewer health issues that impair cognition.
So what are the best exercises for brain health? It turns out all three major types are beneficial: aerobic, strength (resistance), and flexibility. Among the three, however, studies show that aerobic exercise is the best for your brain. People who get regular cardio yield higher performance on mental function and performance tests. So if you want to incorporate more brain health activities, try cardio exercises like cycling, running, and swimming. Those are all great for your brain!
3. Deep Breathing/Meditation or Prayer
With around 20 million Americans doing yoga, it's little wonder that our breathing and spiritual practice can have an immense impact on our health. The same is true for our brain. Deep abdominal breathing is immensely beneficial for our brain health because it brings in more oxygen. Our brains actually demand somewhere around 20% of our body's oxygen intake. Beyond that, most physicians now understand the link between stress and physical health. Certain pain disorders are rooted in repressed emotions such as anger or grief. Cultivating a spiritual practice through meditation or prayer can be a refreshing way to release the toxic stress that our body holds. Whatever your spiritual practice may be, incorporating these methods can benefit your brain health and help you stay on an even keel.
You might have guessed that since our diet plays a huge role in our body's health, the same would be true for our brain. It's true: in fact, certain 'brain health' foods can help your mind function optimally and also guard against cognitive slowing as we age. A good brain health diet can cut your risk of serious cognitive and other health issues now and in the future. Let's look at a few examples of good brain heath foods, and their benefits for your brain:
Broccoli — Full of Vitamin K, this brain superfood also supports cognitive function.
Salmon — Full of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, this food also provides essential building blocks to the brain itself.
Dark Chocolate — Probably everyone's favorite, this food is rich in antioxidants and also balances and regulates your mood.
Sunflower Seeds — Packed with selenium and zinc, this brain food also supports memory and thinking skills.
5. Brain Health Supplements
Lifestyle choices are a huge part of maintaining your brain health. All of the items we covered are beneficial in caring for your cognitive wellness. Many of these building blocks are part of an overall healthy lifestyle. However, scientific studies are revealing that certain supplements can also address our brain health in a way that diet and lifestyle alone cannot.
Certain herbs, for instance, can have a positive impact on your brain health and mental acuity. The herb Gingko Biloba is one example. It has been shown to increase blood flow in small vessels and improve circulation to the brain. Similarly, Panax Ginseng is an herb that can support memory and boost overall cognitive function. Finally, Ashwagandha can aid the body's resistance to emotional stress and relieve mental fatigue. These ingredients and more can work to boost your overall brain health and improve brain function.
If you want to find a supplement that combines these three ingredients along with other "brain health" herbs. This fast-acting supplement that supports memory, energy balance, and the foundational needs of your brain.
A good herbal formula is a great way to give your brain and body a nutritional foundation. It's also a good idea to add a vitamin supplement that will provide your brain with the key nutrients it needs to function optimally. B and C vitamins, zinc, and magnesium are all essential for a healthy brain. These nutrients assist in performing important functions and can help you maintain healthy brain chemistry.