Your brain is truly the most amazing part of your body. It comes up with creative ways to express your thoughts and emotions, coordinates movements from chopping onions to running an obstacle course, stores your most precious childhood memories, and solves the Sunday crossword. But it's easy to take those powers for granted.
Every brain changes with age, and mental function changes along with it. Mental decline is common, and it's one of the most feared consequences of aging. But cognitive impairment is not inevitable. Here are 11 ways you can help maintain brain function.
1. Get mental stimulation
Any mentally stimulating activity should help to build up your brain. Read, take courses, try "mental gymnastics," such as word puzzles or math problems. Experiment with things that require mental effort, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts.
2. Get Physically Active
Research shows that using your muscles also helps your mind. Exercise also spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells (synapses). This results in brains that are more efficient and adaptive, which translates into better performance. Exercise also reduces mental stress, all of which can help your brain as well as your heart.
3. Improve your diet
Good nutrition can help your mind as well as your body. For example, people that eat a Mediterranean style diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, unsaturated oils (olive oil) and plant sources of proteins are less likely to develop cognitive impairment and dementia.`
4. Feed Your Head
A balanced diet with the right number of calories helps reduce the risk for the conditions that can harm the brain. Certain nutrients come to mind for supporting brain health, too:
Antioxidants: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect brain cells by reducing free radical damage—harmful forms of oxygen formed in the body. Free radicals are responsible for oxidative stress, which affects brain health.
While researchers continue to study antioxidants, one thing is clear: it’s important for our health to satisfy the suggested daily intake for vitamin C, and to reap the benefits of other antioxidants, which are plentiful in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- B vitamins: Several B vitamins support brain function. For example, thiamin and riboflavin are involved with central nervous system function, and pantothenic acid participates in the production of acetylcholine, a brain chemical that helps brain cells “talk” to each other.
5. Omega-3 fat
Omega-3 fats support the structure of brain cell membranes. Seafood is an excellent source of these unsaturated, heart-healthy fats. If you don’t eat that much fish, you may need an omega-3 dietary supplements.
6. Keep Yourself Well Hydrated:
Dehydration can ruin your concentration and may cause confusion. So it’s always a good idea to drink more water. The recommended daily intake of fluids varies from person-to-person, but it’s not a bad idea to carry a water bottle and remember to fill it up.
7. Plenty of Quality Sleep
A key way to keep your brain working is shut it off for 7-9 hours a night. Sleep is the most important thing you can do to reset the brain, allow it to heal, and to restore mental health.
8. Do a digital detox:
Commit to the same bedtime each night, and turn off all electronics and screens at least 30-60 minutes before you hit the pillow.
9. Dump your worries:
Jot down any lingering concerns and a quick to-do list for tomorrow to help settle your brain. Our thoughts are always racing, provoking anxiety. But if you write it down with pencil and paper, it tells your brain it doesn't have to be concerned about those things while you sleep.
10. Spend a moment meditating:
Not only will 5-10 minutes of mindful meditation calm your brain and make it easier to sleep, meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, fatigue, and confusion. Most people find not only do they sleep better, they can focus better and are not as anxious.
11. Get some sunlight:
Sunlight and exercise can sometimes go hand in hand. This mostly depends on what part of the world you live in, how much sunlight is available at different times of the year and how realistic it is for you to spend time in the outdoors.
Getting too little sunlight is not good for your brain. Higher levels of Vitamin D in your system allow you to perform better, and can even slow down the aging of your brain.
Too much sunlight can be bad for your skin, but if you aren't getting enough, your brain functions may suffer. Of course, you can always take vitamin D supplements if you find that you aren't able to get outside as much as you would like to. Just remember to take supplements in moderation.
More than anything else, improving your brain power is about habits, and habits take time to build. The best approach is to focus on one or two things at a time. Giving your life a complete makeover is going to prove much more challenging, and the habits you attempt to develop may not stick. This is counterproductive. Not only is balance hard to achieve, often it never is in the life of an entrepreneur. However, constant experimentation and tweaking will allow you to test things out and see what works best for you.
Get some sunlight.Get some sunlight.
Get some sunlight.