How to Keep Your Brain Healthy
1. Start the Day with Coffee
Coffee (noun): a beverage consisting of a decoction or infusion of the roasted ground or crushed seeds (coffee beans) of the two-seeded fruit (coffee berry) of certain coffee trees.
But coffee should really be defined as “The natural, powerful brain-booster.” The effects of coffee and caffeine on the brain begin with that morning cup of joe, perking up the mind and energizing the body to kick start the day!
Coffee can enhance memory, focus, and mood, along with staving off depression and reducing the risks of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The increase of mental alertness, attention, and concentration may also partly explain why coffee can improve physical performance.
2. Eat Brain Foods
Food for thought takes a whole new meaning when it comes to diet and brain health.
In fact, the American Stroke Association suggests a heart-healthy diet is also good for the brain. So-called “brain foods” include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, beans, and fish, especially varieties rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, tuna, mackerel, and trout.
While omega-3s are well-known for their role in heart health, the healthy fat has also been proven to improve focus and concentration and lower the risk of depression thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants in wholesome foods, including fruits and veggies, can also protect brain cells from damage.
3. Keep the Body Active
Whereas exercise is mostly branded for its physical benefits, including weight loss and heart health, keeping the body active also upkeeps the brain.
Exercise boosts mood by increasing endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in the brain and reduces stress hormones, proving to be a remedy for managing both depression and anxiety!
Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week and incorporate various forms of movement, including cardio and strength training. And really, some movement is better than no movement!
4. Exercise the Brain
Okay, you might be wondering how to exercise your brain (and no, it does not require a gym membership)…
Tackle daily brain exercises from the comfort of your own home to boost brain power for now and years to come. Challenging and stimulating the five areas of the brain – memory, attention, language, visual-spatial skills, and executive function – helps keep the brain mentally sharp as it ages.
“Scientists agree: Meditation is the #1 brain changer,” positions the EOC Institute.
If that is not enough to encourage meditation, the practice has proven to enhance nine key brain regions to make us feel connected, boost creativity and brain power, increase emotional intelligence, subside depression, build memories, increase focus, and just down right make us smarter, happier, healthier beings.
New to the practice? Follow this meditation beginner’s guide to get you started!
With all this physical and mental exercise talk, it may seem counterintuitive to highlight the importance of rest… And even though your body may feel at rest, the brain is quite active throughout the night.
The restorative and rejuvenating advances of sleep is key for mental health and actually necessary for sharpening cognition and inspiring creativity. During sleep, nerve cells are actively communicating with one another and harmful toxins related to Alzheimer’s disease are being cleared.
Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep on a nightly basis. But if struggling to catch those Zzz’s, create a healthy bedtime routine for a better night’s rest night-in and night-out.
7. Stop Smoking
Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, including the brain.
Reported by WebMD, current and former smokers display a thinner cortex than those who never smoked. The cortex is where important thought processes such as memory, language, and perception occur.
While the thinning of the cortex is a noted part of aging, smoking can speed up the process. So if you do smoke, there is no better time to quit!
8. Challenge Yourself
Continuously stimulate your mind by challenging yourself, as such mental challenges keep the neurons in the brain stimulated.
Challenges may include picking up a new instrument, learning a second language.
But challenges do not have to be huge undertaking and developing new brain networks can be as simple as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand or doing a crossword puzzle when eating lunch.
Ultimately, anything requiring coordination and concentration can help sharpen the brain.
9. Crank Up the Tunes
According to Be Brain Fit, music activates every part of the brain. Listening and playing music presents to improve mood, reduce stress, spark creativity, increase productivity, and, well, may just make you a better person than you already are!
Science also shows what music to listen to at every moment of the day. Press play to hard rock and hip-hop to kick start start your day. Ending a bad day? Crank up that Adele.
10. Chew On Gum
Chew on this: Research suggests not only the smell, but the flavor, of peppermint can enhance memory!
Evidence supports chewing gum can improve long-term and working memory, along with increasing alertness and intellectual performance. So if you have a test coming up, boost brain power (and maybe turn that C into an A) by popping in a piece of minty gum.