Have you ever worried about your brain, or felt like you are forgetting things more and more? The good news is that there are some things that you can do to maintain your brain and reduce your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Read on to learn more.
The Importance of Physical Exercise
Exercise is important for brain maintenance as physical activity will increase the blood flow to the brain, helping it to get the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to work at its peak. Aim for daily exercise – around 30 minutes of walking, swimming, cycling, running, or whatever other exercise you prefer is ideal.
Exercise the Brain
Remember the saying "use it or lose it?" This applies to the brain as well, not just your muscles. Do activities that challenge your brain such as:
- board games
- card games
- learning a new language
- learning a new instrument
These help to maintain your brain by increasing blood flow, establishing new connections within the brain, and also by stimulating brain cell growth. Being social is also important to the brain. Engaging in conversations or activities with others can go a long way towards maintaining your brain.
Diet, Supplements and the Brain
Your diet plays a surprisingly large part in maintaining your brain. Omega 3 fatty acids are important to the brain as they make up parts of the brain cells, and they can also help to reduce inflammation within the brain. The omega 3 fatty acids also help to protect arteries and improve the blood flow to the brain. Bad fats such as saturated fats and trans fats increase the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol in the blood, which can cause inflammation and reduce the flow of blood to the brain. Antioxidants are also valuable for maintaining your brain as the brain can be damaged by free radicals and the oxidative effect that they have. Some great antioxidants are vitamins C and E. Blueberries can be very helpful as they contain substances that can help with short term memory, navigational skills, balance, and coordination. Research also suggests that blueberries can improve weakened neuron signals within the brain.
Gingko biloba is an herb that is commonly used for the brain as it reduces damage from oxidation in the cells.
The Effect of Smoking on the Brain
It is vital that you stop smoking. As well as all of the other negative health effects associated with smoking, smoking decreases the flow of blood to the brain, meaning that it does not get the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to function.
Stress and its Effect on the Brain
Research has shown that chronic, excessive levels of stress can actually alter the structure of the brain. These changes in structure can make the brain more susceptible to damage from free radicals and it can also result in neuron damage. If stress is a problem in your life, employ stress management techniques such as meditation, muscle relaxation, yoga, and so forth.
When Should You Start Maintaining your Brain?
So now you know how to maintain your brain, when should you start doing it? Ideally, you will begin as soon as you can because the good news is that it is never too late. Everything that you do towards maintaining your brain adds up, and by maintaining your brain, you reduce the risk for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.