Our brains are so sophisticated and complex yet there are some simple things we must do to properly care for and maintain our brains. Unfortunately as we all know, there is no magic pill to prevent or cure Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia but there are certainly things we can do to promote and prolong brain health.
One of the most important areas to address for brain health maintenance is physical activity and exercise. By participating in exercise, we increase blood flow to the brain which has a positive affect on our brain functioning. This certainly does not mean we must all train for a marathon or become a competitive athlete. We all need to adopt an active lifestyle. All it takes is a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Now honestly, we are all able to commit to 30 minutes a day of merely walking. Yes, strive for 7 days a week, but if you only squeeze in 5, that is still beneficial. Research continues to support the many benefits and importance of physical activity. Exercise is also great for your heart health. Did you realize that if something is good for your brain than it is also good for your heart? Yes, the reverse is also true, if something is good for your heart then it is good for your brain. So as you can see, a sedentary lifestyle is not healthy!
A second key component to prolonging brain health is to eat a healthy diet full of essential vitamins and minerals. Eating a healthy, well balanced diet essentially feeds your mind. It is crucial to eat foods that are full of the healthy omega 3 fatty acids. This includes fish like salmon, flounder, haddock, sole, mackerel, trout, and really just about any fish. Other foods high in omega 3’s are walnuts, cabbage, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, strawberries, spinach. There is really quite a variety of foods that can easily be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle diet.
In addition to omega 3 fatty acids, our brains and bodies can reap benefits from other foods,drinks, spices, and herbs. Do you consume enough fresh fruits and vegetables? Olive oil, avocados, beans, yams, sweet potatoes, dark chocolate, strawberries, cranberries, and apples just to name a few have numerous health benefits. Instead of seasoning your food with salt, try fresh herbs and spices. Did you realize that certain herbs and spices have brain health benefits? Consider adding these to your cooking-cinnamon, turmeric, oregano, ginger, rosemary, garlic, basil, thyme, sage, and saffron. All these spices have been linked to improved brain health. So, spice up your food, it’s good for you! Do you consume enough water? Our brains require water to maintain brain health. Are you a green tea drinker? Green tea has numerous health benefits. I personally average at least 8 cups a day, especially now that it is cold outside!
Exercising your brain is the final key area to address in promoting prolonged brain health. We must keep our brains active and able to form new neural pathways. Take advantage of brain or neuroplasticity! This means that through new learning we actually have the ability to create new pathways in our brain. By adopting a healthy lifestyle and becoming a lifelong learner, we increase our odds for maintaining a healthy brain throughout our lifetime. Isn’t that what we all want to achieve-a long healthy and happy life? We are never too young to begin learning and never too old to stop learning. It is so important to keep our minds sharp! Learn a new language, learn a new game, volunteer, join a club, form a club, change your routine. To help maintain brain health, it is necessary to learn something new, master it, and repeat! Stay connected with people and be part of a group, and have a purpose in life! Remember, laughter does a person good!
As we all know, at this point there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, but why not take charge of what we can to decrease our risk for developing this debilitating and devastating disease? Make it your New Year’s resolution for 2011 to change your life and prolong your brain health!
Well, now it’s Sunday evening, thoughts about the new work week have entered your head, holidays are upon us, end of the year business deals, family stuff-again, why did I eat so much on Thanksgiving, why am I still eating so much, I’ve gained how many pounds already, and the list continues! Does your brain just hurt from too much information? So, I pose the question, “Are you stressed out?” Do you feel overwhelmed particularly this time of year? Well, here is some surprising information. Cluttering your brain with all this excess information is not useful.
Stress has been attributed to memory loss, decreased judgment skills, poor thought organization, and difficulty in forming clear, concise thoughts. Why would you want to do that to your brain? Our brains need proper fuel, food, and maintenance to achieve optimal levels of peak performance. Now, that’s a great way to bring in the holiday season and prepare for the upcoming new year. Okay now don’t stress out, but 2011 is just around the corner-less than 5 weeks!
Here is our advice on how to properly care for your brain so it will last a lifetime. First, let’s discuss fuel for your brain. You and your brain require energy to work effectively and efficiently. This means exercise for your brain and your body. Exercise your brain with knowledge and become a life long learner. We are never too old to learn. Learn a new language, a new game, join a new club or organization, volunteer somewhere new, change your daily routine. It’s all about the new learning and forming those new brain pathways through brain or neuro plasticity. Remember to exercise your body. It’s not necessary to train for a marathon or become an Olympic athlete. Recent studies have shown that just walking 6-9 miles per week decreases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. By exercising, you get the blood flowing and circulating throughout your body and your brain. It’s not that difficult to walk 6 miles. Of course if exercise is new to you, then definitely consult your physician before beginning any exercise program!
Next, let us share with you our advice on brain food. Of course it’s best to eat a well balanced diet comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish, nuts, healthy fats (olive oil, omega 3 ), dairy, fresh herbs and spices, and fiber. Your plate should have an assortment of colors to ensure you have a good balance of healthy food choices. AVOID fast food! There are really no health benefits to consuming fast foods. So, just forget about it! We eat lots of walnuts, dark chocolate, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, wild salmon, fresh veggies with cold pressed olive oil, almonds, chicken, and fiber filled whole grains. If you’re having difficulty making “healthy” food choices or unsure about your choices, consult your physician. Of course, if you have food allergies or sensitivities as I do, always consult your doctor. I was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity, which can impair brain function. Lovely, huh? Anyway, a healthy diet is important to maintain a healthy brain that will last a lifetime.
Lastly, let’s discuss brain maintenance. This is also important to achieve optimal brain health and function. Stress, let it go! It’s a killer and just not needed! Don’t stress out over things beyond your control or things you can’t change. If you’re having trouble letting it go why not try some deep breathing exercises? Learn some yoga moves or learn to meditate. Begin each day with 10 minutes of silent positive thoughts and a smile on your face. Let your brain be a calm fertile ground so it may easily welcome new learning opportunities and absorb knowledge like a sponge.
The bottom line in order to achieve and maintain a healthy brain involves fueling your brain and body with exercise, feeding your brain with healthy brain foods, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.