How to Take Care of Your Brain as You Age
As we grow older, we all experience our own unique set of health challenges. Few things cause more fear than the thought of losing your cognitive abilities.
After all, the brain is the control center. So, even with the healthiest body, if your brain isn’t working properly, your physical health will suffer and your quality of life will diminish.
Why is it Important to Know How to Take Care of Your Brain?
For years, you’ve been taught how to improve your physical heath, but what about the health of your brain? And with no focus on your brain’s health, is the damage already done, or can you still make a difference?
Unfortunately, there’s no guaranteed answer because we don’t know what causes or how to prevent cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Even the major risk factors such as age, being female, or genetics are a bit of a mystery to researchers.
Since we don’t know how to prevent it and you can’t stop the aging process or change your gender, protecting your brain’s health is more about reducing other risk factors. You must focus on the things you can control and incorporate lifestyle decisions that just make sense.
Let’s talk about some of the things that you can do to help keep your brain healthy as you age.
Remember to Be Heart Healthy
According to various research studies, the good news is that if you’ve been following a heart-healthy lifestyle, then you are already on the right track for better brain health.
Maintaining good nutrition, exercise, and good stress management make sense for both physical and mental health.
Cells within your body, including your brain, need proper amounts of oxygen and nutrients to stay healthy. Exercise helps spread oxygen and nutrients throughout the body while also flushing out waste.
Obviously, the quality of nutrition and the amount of hydration you get is going to have an impact on the health of your body. It just makes sense that a variety of natural foods with good hydration is the best “food” for better brain health.
The more than 100-billion neurons (specialized cells) of your brain are supplied oxygen and nutrients through a dense network of sensitive blood vessels. So when these vessels become damaged or weakened by high blood pressure or inflammation caused by stress, the health of the cell will suffer.
Become an Informed Consumer
Beyond maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle, you also want to consider many of the lessons we have learned related to cancer. For years you’ve been knowingly, and unknowingly, putting toxins into your body.
These toxins enter your body in the form of additives or pesticides through the foods you eat. You also inhale them through the air you breathe. Both indoor and outdoor air may be polluted with contaminates.
Consumer products such as non-stick cookware, building materials, and items with certain types of plastics have been proven to outgas – polluting our indoor air quality.
Becoming an informed and discriminating consumer who makes buying choices to keep toxins out of your body is necessary to help protect the health of your brain.
Find an Intellectual Purpose
Lastly, the brain, much like our muscles, needs to be exercised. Just like the amount of weight and intensity of your workout affects your results, the same is likely true about how you work your brain.
Crossword puzzles, brain games, and hobbies might be an important part of your happiness but these activities don’t likely carry enough “weight” to improve your brain health. Researchers have proven that even the brain of an older adult can “reorganize itself by forming new neural connections.”
But, it just makes sense that in order for this to occur you must push your intellectual limits. Learn new things that challenge you on a recurring basis. Include purpose, by setting goals to share what you learn to help others. This combination will help form these new neural connections.
While there are no proven ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, these are things that you can do that make sense. By following a recipe that includes a heart-healthy lifestyle, reduction of toxins in your body, and intellectual purpose, you can improve, and even potentially repair, your brain health.
What are you doing to keep your brain healthy? Have you made any positive lifestyle changes recently? Which ones? Please join the conversation.
Mike Good is the founder of Together in This, an online community helping family members caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Through short, informative articles and easy-to-use tools, such as the Introductory Guide to Alzheimer’s, he helps them take control and have peace-of-mind they are doing the right things.