Brain health is often missed in our overall conversation around health. Do you realize how constantly evolving your brain is?
The ability of the brain to learn new information, make new connections, and mend damaged ones is known as brain plasticity. Our brain continues to develop as we get older, learn more, and have more experience. Everyone is aware that maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and visiting the doctor frequently can lower chances of developing major illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
It’s less well understood, though, that the brain’s well-being is crucial too. The brain is an essential organ of the body, much like the heart, liver, and lungs, so maintaining its health is crucial. The brain’s volume continually declines with age, which weakens the nerve cells. Moreover, as we age, blood flow to the brain diminishes.
How to Improve Brain Health
Your overall life depends heavily on the health of your brain. It’s the foundation of your ability for effective communication, sound judgment, problem-solving, and leading a valuable life.
The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to maintain optimal brain function. Here’s a look at five of them:
1) Eat & Sleep right
You become what you consume. Due to lifestyle and environmental factors, the brain is exposed to more harmful stress as you age, which causes oxidation that harms brain cells. Antioxidant-rich foods assist in protecting the brain from the negative effects of oxidation.
Quality of sleep is also important for brain health. Humans sleep for about a third of the day, and sleep is essential for maintaining brain health. The immune system, brain, and several other bodily systems need to be on sleep to function properly.
Sleep helps you stay alert, concentrated, and capable of making deliberate decisions. While different age groups require dirferent amounts of sleep, six to seven hours per night is generally advised. The brain has time to eliminate metabolic waste and improve memory when you get regular, restorative sleep.
2) Put your brain to use
According to studies, brain activity encourages the formation of new connections between nerve cells. It can even aid in the production of new brain cells, development of neurological plasticity, and creation of functional reserves that act as a buffer against cell loss.
To improve memory and concentration, try reading, playing cards, assembling a jigsaw puzzle, doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku, or finishing word searches.
Try your hand at manual dexterity and mental effort-demanding activities, like painting, drawing, and other crafts. Look to eat and brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Don’t watch too much television, which is a passive pastime that does little to excite the brain; instead, mix up your activities to boost effectiveness.
Environmental factors can also affect brain health. Contaminants in food, water, and the air are examples of environmental toxins.
These toxins can all result in neurological conditions like stroke, neurodevelopmental problems, and neurodegenerative diseases. Head trauma, whether frequent or severe, is another kind of environmental risk.
Head trauma from an accident or from participating in intense sports puts the brain cells in a harmful environment. While we constantly engage with our environment, we can always take protective measures to safeguard our brain.
4) Stay socially connected
You can avoid memory loss by having a busy social life. The brain benefits from social interaction, thought-provoking conversations, and regular contact with loved ones and friends. According to studies, those who’re socially active in their community have the lowest memory loss.
While damage to brain health becomes prominent in old age, we can start focusing on it from an early age. The more you interact and engage, the less likely you’re to experience problems with your brain health.
5) Keep stress levels to the minimum
This cannot be emphasized enough. Chronic stress can alter the structure of the brain and cause stem cells to fail by causing an overproduction of the cortisol hormone and the insulating layer around your neurons known as myelin.
While avoiding stressful events isn’t always possible, having a plan to manage and lower stress levels is crucial. That can entail practicing relaxation methods, learning to say no, or keeping a stress journal.
The brain is something you either use or lose. As we age, the brain changes, and so does our ability to think clearly. One of the most feared effects of aging is damage to brain health.
However, cognitive decline is not always present. A long and fulfilling life depends on having a healthy brain. You can maintain your brain health and guard against age-related cognitive problems with a few simple dietary and lifestyle modifications.
Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master’s degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.
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