Alzheimer’s is just one of many neurodegenerative diseases, and it affects around 6.2 million Americans. Although not everyone develops neurodegenerative diseases, the brain slowing down is a normal part of aging. However, whether you’re in your 20s or 70s, there are benefits to looking after your brain health. If you want to wake up with bright ideas each morning and reach your full potential, it’s a no-brainer (excuse the pun).
You’ve come to the right place if you’re ready to learn how to have a healthy brain; we’re here with a few simple ways to ensure the millions of cells, neurons, and synapses in your brain are firing on all pistons at all times.
Read on to find out more.
Several neuroscientists believe that an inactive lifestyle is the most significant risk factor for developing dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
The key to a healthier brain is aerobic exercise. Although strength training is fantastic for metabolic regulation, muscle, and bone health, aerobic training is the gold standard for brain health.
Each time you train aerobically (e.g., running, rowing, and HIIT workouts), your brain releases growth factors, and it helps reduce any inflammation. This allows the brain and neural cells to function correctly.
Try to be active every day. This can be in the form of a walk, an endurance workout, or a quick HIIT session. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do more or beat your personal best’s; as long as you’re doing something, that’s better than nothing.
Challenge Your Mind
You may remember the Nintendo DS ‘Brain Training’ craze of the early 2000s. Even though that petered out fairly quickly, there was some significant benefit to it.
The best brain activities don’t need to be on your old Nintendo. Anything from iPhone apps to completing a regular crossword will help you preserve memory and cognitive function. You’ll find more examples of brain training activities in this article.
If you struggle with motivation, there are apps that’ll send you a daily reminder to train your brain. You’ll find that these apps are massively gamified, and you’ll get satisfaction from completing your brain exercises each day.
Whichever method you choose, try to do some brain training each day to keep your mind sharp.
Diet Is Everything
A balanced and varied diet is perhaps the most vital factor for long-term brain health. Our food is our fuel: but not just for our muscles, for our brain too.
There are millions of minute reactions firing off in our brains at any given moment. These determine how we perceive and react to everything piece of information we see and sense.
In order to optimize these processes, the food you put into your body is critical.
Be wary of high intakes of refined sugar. This can overload the brain and synapses – causing cognitive decline. There is also anecdotal evidence that short fasting periods can help boost brain activity (no, we’re not talking about fad-diet 24 hours fasts – an extended overnight fast is sufficient).
You should also make sure to eat at least two portions of oily fish each week. These contain omega-3 fatty acids, which insulate the myelin sheath of neurons and help them to function correctly.
Finally, remember that every cell in your brain and body requires water. There’s nothing fun about chronic dehydration, and you’ll notice your brain function significantly better if you keep your fluids up.
Sleep is essential for several functions, including how nerve cells communicate with each other. It’s no surprise, really; everyone’s experienced a sluggish brain when they’re sleep-deprived.
If you’re serious about caring for your brain, sleep should be your priority. You need to get six or more hours of high-quality and restorative sleep every single night.
Sleep is a complex process that scientists don’t fully understand. What we do know is that it is critical for every cellular process within the body. Having good sleep hygiene isn’t just protective for your brain; it’ll also help reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
You should approach your bedtime routine the same as you would for an infant. Make sure you prepare your bedroom environment, turn off your screens, set yourself up for tomorrow, and do a guided meditation to help calm your brain ready for sleep.
Visit the Doctor
Finally, it’s worth getting a complete physical to check if you’re at risk of cognitive decline. A doctor can run tests to ensure you’re functioning as you should be and identify any critical risk factors.
They will be able to give you in-depth and personal advice about how you should live your life to look after your brain.
Another option to consider is DNA and genome testing. This will reveal the details of your genetic makeup and help you plan for your later years. However, be aware that you may find out information that’s difficult to hear; only get genome testing if you’re prepared to see the results.