As we age, our brains change, and so do our cognitive abilities. Mental decline is common and can be a frightening consequence of aging. However, cognitive impairment is not unavoidable. There are many things you can do to keep your mind fit and healthy. Here are 11 things you can do to maintain your brain’s health.
Plenty of research suggests that using your muscles helps your brain. People who exercise routinely increase the number of blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the part of your brain responsible for thought. Exercise encourages the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells – also known as synapses. Exercise contributes to brains that are more adaptive, efficient, and plastic, leading to higher performance in aging. In addition, exercise helps lower blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, reduces mental stress, and balance blood sugar levels, all of which contribute to a healthier brain and heart.
Aim to do 2.5 hours of aerobic activity per week. This includes walking, running, biking, or swimming. In addition, try to do some type of strength training at least twice a week.
Proper nutrition not only helps your body, but your mind too. Diets high in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, unsaturated oils, and plant proteins are less likely to develop cognitive impairment and dementia. Tea and coffee also offer antioxidants that protect your brain too.
Consider adding foods such as eggs, oranges, dark chocolate, green tea, nuts, seeds, broccoli, blueberries, and fatty fish to your diet. Check out the blog post: 6 Superfoods for Improving Senior Health Care for more info. Also Try to cut back on frozen meals, takeout food, cheese, and deli meats as these are some of the highest sources of sodium for Americans.
Scientists have proven that activities that brainy activities help stimulate new connections between nerve cells. This may even help the brain create new cells too; this develops neurological plasticity and builds up a reserve that creates a barrier against future cell loss.
Any mentally stimulating activity helps your brain. Whether it’s reading, solving a puzzle, taking a class, or learning a new skill, all of these are great mental stimulation. Consider trying things that require dexterity along with mental exertion too, such as painting, drawing, or crafting.
High blood pressure can increase the risk of cognitive decline in old age. There are several ways to lower your blood pressure. Stay fit through regular exercise and proper nutrition, limit your alcohol consumption, and reduce your stress levels. In addition, be sure to regularly check your blood pressure. This will help keep you informed and help you watch for risks.
Excessive drinking is a considerable risk factor for dementia. If you enjoy drinking, try to limit your consumption to one or two drinks a day at most. Limiting your alcohol consumption has several health benefits as well. Check out our blog post: 4 Health Benefits of Reducing Your Alcohol Intake for details.
High blood sugar can increase your risk for dementia. Diabetes is also another risk factor for dementia. Prevent diabetes and high blood sugar by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. If this does not help your blood sugar, you may need to consider medication to better control your blood sugar. Check out our multi-part blog series, Tips for Lowering Your Blood Sugar Naturally for some handy advice on this.
Avoid tobacco entirely. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk to similar levels of those who never smoked.
Strong social ties are associated with a decreased risk of dementia. In addition, regular social activities are linked to lower blood pressure and longer life expectancy.
So, rather than scrolling through Facebook or other forms of social media, consider making plans to go do something with friends. If that doesn’t work for you, try volunteering at a humane society, a church, a shelter, or anywhere else meaningful to you.
High levels of bad cholesterol are linked with a higher chance of dementia. Through eating a proper diet, regular exercise, weight control, and avoiding all forms of tobacco, you can work to improve your cholesterol levels. However, if these strategies aren’t enough, consider asking your doctor about medication.
Moderate to severe head injuries substantially increase the risk of cognitive impairment. Be sure to wear protective gear when exercising, working, or during any other activities that put you at risk for head injuries.
Overall, people who tend to be depressed, anxious, or sleep-deprived generally score lower on cognitive function tests. While poor scores do not necessarily indicate an increased risk of cognitive deterioration in older age, good mental health and proper rest are very important goals and can help your brain function in general.
Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Practice meditating and general mindfulness to reduce your stress. Seek counseling if you are struggling with anxiety or depression. All of these contribute to an improved mental state which helps keep your brain healthy and functional.
If you have questions about how to keep your brain healthy, contact Primary Care Physicians of Florida. We have doctors who accept Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medicaid on staff, as well as others who are on the list of Humana healthcare providers.
Some of the other insurances we carry at Primary Care Physicians of Florida are (but not limited to): Medicare, Cigna, Avmed, Molina, and Guardian. Please contact us for more information about the insurance plans we accept.
Set up a same-day doctor appointment by calling 954-983-9191 or fill out our online contact form to get started now.