The brain has historically been seen as an organ that didn’t change much once you entered adulthood. More current research, however, has shown that the brain is an ever-changing organ that is constantly adapting as you experience life. The ability of the brain to change and grow is known as brain plasticity. The brain continues to create new neural pathways and change existing neural pathways as you have new experiences, create new memories and learn new information. If you are looking to keep your brain healthy, choosing behaviors that promote healthy brain changes and even exploring the best memory supplements can help you achieve ongoing brain health.
Mental stimulation is one of the best ways to keep your brain healthy. Focus on activities that challenge you to learn new things or new ways of doing things. Take education courses, and try to read as much as possible, both informational and entertainment books. Work math problems or crossword puzzles. Pick up new hobbies that require a combination of physical and mental skills like playing guitar, painting or crafting.
Physical exercise, believe it or not, has been shown to build the brain as well as your muscles. The science basically comes down to exercise increases the number of blood vessels that provide your brain with much-needed oxygen-rich blood. Exercise also promotes the development of new nerve cells as well as connections between those cells, making the brain more adaptive. Finally, other common benefits of exercise like lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol are great for the brain as well as the heart.
What you eat has shown to be correlated with brain health. Research that has been done on the Mediterranean-style diet shows correlations between that diet and lower levels of cognitive impairment and dementia. A Mediterranean-style diet promotes fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, unsaturated oils and plant proteins. You don’t have to follow a strict Mediterranean diet to achieve brain health benefits, but including fatty fish, blueberries, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, nuts, oranges and eggs in your diet has been shown to promote brain health. If you are a fan of caffeine and chocolate, both coffee and dark chocolate have been linked to improved brain health. Finally, turmeric is a spice that is currently being studied closely due to its apparent positive impact on new brain cell growth.
Taking care of your mental health is important to cognitive function. Anxiety, exhaustion and depression have all been correlated with lower performance on cognitive function tests. Though lower performance on cognitive function tests has not been directly linked to cognitive decline as you age, it does have a direct impact on cognitive function at the time you are experiencing them. Social aspects of mental health, such as the maintenance of strong social networks, have been linked to lower levels of dementia long-term.
Your brain is important to everything you do, so it is important to understand the simple steps you can take to promote your overall brain health. Having an overall healthy brain can help you lead a longer, happier and fuller overall life.