8 Ways to Improve Brain Health

There are important lifestyle changes and habits you can instill early on in life to keep your brain healthy as well as reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Think of the brain as the control center in the body. Recent findings suggest that the majority of people realize they can reduce their risk of cognitive decline but aren't sure where to start. Here are 6 lifestyle changes you can implement now for your brain.

 

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1. Exercise! Yes, that's right, exercise is not just about the physical. Some studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline. Cardio does wonders for this because it elevates your heart rate, increasing blood flow to the brain and body.

2. Commit to learning something new.

Some of the strongest evidence for reducing risk of dementia revolves around years of formal education. This doesn't mean apply to Harvard but even taking a night class or online course will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline.  

3. Quit smoking

For a million and one reasons we've all heard before, quitting smoking is the best choice for your overall health. But it can also reduce your risk of cognitive decline comparable to the brain health of people who never smoked. 

4. Whole grains. Eating whole grains provides the brain with the proper energy the brain needs to function. Whole grains give the blood within our body glucose which is sent to the brain. Whole grains are better than refined grains because the energy from whole grains is steady and lasts longer, as opposed to refined grains which provides energy that spikes up and down and does not last as long. Make sure to choose whole grain foods that have a low glycemic index. Brown rice, brown pasta, brown cereals, and whole wheat or whole grain bread are good sources of whole grains.

6. Fall in love with "superfoods." 

More and more evidence shows that eating super foods can also reduce your risk. Eating a healthy and balanced diet with heavy consumption of fruits and vegetables make a big difference.  Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.

7. Get some sleep

The feeling of not getting enough sleep is all too familiar to all of us. The truth is when this happens it indicates your brain isn't operating at full capacity. There are long-term risks of not getting enough sleep as well. It can lead to sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea which affects respiratory health. 

8. Take care of your mental health

Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.