The Science of Keeping Your Brain Healthy ~ Domenico Pratico, MD, Temple University
This is a very important question since our brain is the center of command for our entire body, and for this reason, it deserves to be a priority when it comes to our health.
So, here are ten simple steps we can all take to show our brains some love. The order is random and not based on importance. The more of these things you can do, the better.
1. Challenge yourself: Keeping your mind active is a great way to maintain a healthy brain. Engage in activities that demand critical thinking, problem-solving, and strategic planning. Jigsaw puzzles and board games are just a few examples of activities that can help to keep your brain active.
2. Quit Smoking: Quit smoking to reduce the risk of cognitive decline to a level comparable to those who have never smoked. Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline, including dementia and other age-related cognitive deficits. By quitting you can help protect your brain and lower your risk of developing cognitive problems as you get older.
3. Keep Moving: Keep moving by engaging in regular cardiovascular exercises, such as jogging, cycling, or swimming, that increase the heart rate and improve blood flow to the brain. This increased blood flow provides oxygen and nourishment to brain cells, supporting their general health and function.
4. Hit the book: Enrolling in a class of your choice at a local institution, online, or at a community centre can provide an opportunity to broaden your knowledge and challenge your mind in novel ways. Continuing to learn throughout your life is another crucial factor in maintaining a healthy brain.
5. Love your head: Protect your head by wearing a seat belt while driving, a helmet when playing contact sports or riding your bike, and taking steps to prevent falls. Traumatic brain injury has been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Head protection has become a crucial component of brain health.
6. Your Heart: Take care of your heart to help maintain a healthy brain. Keep your blood glucose, blood pressure, and body weight under control through diet and exercise. When the heart is healthy, it can pump more oxygen-rich blood to the brain, supporting its overall function and preventing damage.
7. Fuel yourself right: Fuel your body with the right foods by eating a balanced and healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in fat and sugar. This will provide the nutrients your brain needs to function properly and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
8. Catch Some Snooze: Make sure to get enough sleep every day to maintain a healthy brain. Sleep deprivation, insomnia, and other sleep disorders have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Prioritizing a regular sleep schedule and creating a sleep-conducive environment can help to promote healthy brain function.
9. Take care of your mental health: If you experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, or any other mental health concerns, seek medical attention promptly. If you're feeling stressed, try to manage it through relaxation techniques like meditation or exercise. Additionally, make an effort to manage stress or seek assistance in doing so.
10. Where is my buddy? Be more Social: Stay socially engaged and pursue any social activity that you enjoy and that is also meaningful to you. Be part of your local community. If you enjoy singing join a local choir, if you love animals volunteer at a local shelter; if you love gardening become a member of a local community garden. By maintaining a healthy social life, you can help to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and maintain good brain health as you age.
Maintaining our brain health is critical for living a healthy and satisfying life. We may show our brains some love and lower the chances of cognitive decline and dementia by following these simple guidelines. Every step, from challenging ourselves with mental activities to nourishing our bodies with nutritious food to remaining socially involved, contributes to optimal brain function. We can prioritize our brain health and live a long and healthy life by making some small but significant changes.
Domenico Praticò, MD, is the Scott Richards North Star Charitable Foundation Chair for Alzheimer’s Research, Professor and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple, and Professor of Pharmacology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University