5 Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy
1. Eating Healthy Fats, Less Sugar, and Green Vegetables
Your brain needs proteins, carbohydrates, fats and minerals in order to function properly. Medical professionals suggest eating fish such as salmon which contains omega-3 fatty acids for brain healthy protein and fat. Loading up on green vegetables such as spinach, kale and various lettuces contain an array of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, which brain cells need for firing. Lastly, walnuts are rich in healthy fats, vitamin E and melatonin.
Avoiding processed foods high in saturated fats and sugars is key to brain health, as these compounds can causes blockages in arteries which can cause a stroke. In addition, diabetes can also cause cognitive impairment as it damages blood vessels which carry blood to the brain. Not only will your waistline thank you for avoiding these harmful substances, but your brain will thank you with improved mood and sharper thinking.
2. Making Your Heart Pump
Exercise has shown numerous benefits to brain health: endorphin production, increasing the flow of blood to the brain and bringing BDNF to the brain, which helps maintain and grow new brain cells. Specifically, aerobic exercise has been found to be more effective than strength training. However, it is important to do both as the body needs to be challenged in multiple ways. It is advised that people do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3x a week. This can come in the form of walking, biking, jogging or swimming.
3. Having Regular Social Interaction
Social isolation has shown to be detrimental to brain function as people are not actively engaged with conversation skills, working memory and can experience depression. Participating in social events allows for people to converse, get out of their homes and feel connected to other people. Other ways to connect socially include joining a sports organization, volunteering or calling someone on the phone for a few minutes.
4. Making Your Brain Break A Sweat
This means making your brain think and engage with cognitively stimulating materials. In today’s world, it is easy to turn on the television and get lost in a show. However, this is not a demanding activity on the brain. Activities that provide ample cognitive stimulation include doing puzzles, learning a new language, reading articles or books and engaging in creative activities. These activities require skills needed for everyday function such as verbal memory, visuospatial skills, memory and executive functions.
5. Turning Off Yourself (and Your Phone)
Technology has brought people together at the click of a button. However, smartphones and the internet have caused modern-day problems such as social media addiction, distraction from real-world events and prolonged connection to work. To fully decompress, it is important to give oneself a break from technology. This can be done by leaving a smartphone home when out with friends, turned off when dining with friends or family and not using it at least 1 hour before bedtime. By turning off and disengaging with the smartphone, people can be more present during social gatherings, eat more mindfully and not be thrown off by the blue light emitted from smartphone screens.
Maintaining brain health is an everyday task. It is important to eat properly, exercise, engage with others, do cognitively demanding tasks and to disconnect from technology. Other ways to keep your brain healthy include changing your environment by taking a day trip, sleeping well and addressing mental health concerns with a trusted person and licensed medical professional.