Experts agree that dark, leafy greens, berries, and fiber-rich whole grains are part of a brain-healthy diet. Studies suggest that regular intake of nuts (sunflower seeds, walnuts), seeds, omega-3 fatty acids (fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna), berries (blueberries, raspberries, acai berries) and green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, collard greens) improves cognitive function. Not only is a diet rich in these foods good for your brain and preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s, but they can lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease, too. For more information on brain–friendly foods, have a look at the M.I.N.D diet.
Move Your Body
No matter your age or abilities, there are ways to keep your body active. Health experts will always emphasize the importance of exercise for the human body. But did you know exercise is vital for optimal brain function? Increasing heart rate is not only essential in keeping your body healthy but also in preventing many diseases and maintaining a sharp brain. According to a study completed by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even brief, low-impact exercise for 20 minutes facilitates improved information processing and memory functionality. If exercise is hard on your joints, as it is for many aging adults, try water aerobics or pilates.
Exercise Your Mind
Giving your brain a workout by staying mentally active is also important. The more you stay engaged and stimulate your brain, the better you will be at remembering and processing information. Challenge yourself intellectually by picking up a new skill or hobby like crocheting, writing poetry, gardening, or practicing a new language. It is never too late to learn! Another easy, entertaining way to keep the mind active is by doing activities like crossword puzzles, word finds, sudoku, and jigsaws.
Keep a Nighttime Routine
Our ability to problem solve and consolidate memories are hindered by lack of sleep. Critical thinking also suffers when one experiences insomnia or irregular, interrupted sleeping patterns. Adults should get between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Taking naps during the day can make up for lost sleep, too. One of the keys to getting good sleep is developing and keeping a consistent nighttime routine. By doing this, you teach the mind and body to know that sleep is coming. We do this for babies and children but often forget that adults benefit from this, too. A nighttime routine could look like taking a bath, having a cup of tea and reading or journaling and then doing some stretches before crawling into bed. Whatever you find calming and relaxing.
Take Brain-Supporting Supplements
Research has found evidence of Alzheimer’s disease being linked to the body’s level of the amino acid, homocysteine. The lower the level of homocysteine in one’s body, the lower the chances are of that person developing serious cognitive impairment. A simple way to reduce homocysteine is by taking B vitamins. Ginkgo Biloba is a natural plant which is thought to have potential memory-enhancing effects – simply add it to your morning tea or take it in a capsule to reap its benefits.
Your brain’s abilities begin to decline as early as your twenties, according to The UCLA Brain Mapping Center. However, regularly practicing meditation has been shown to delay cognitive decline and aid in the prevention of diseases like dementia. Furthermore, meditation has added health benefits like cortisol reduction and increased self-awareness.
Become Part of a Community
Joining a social club or attending an adult day care can help stimulate your brain. Communicating with people, especially those with different backgrounds or interests keeps your brain active. Research has shown that those who maintain an active social network perform better in memory and concentration tests. Senior center software like StoriiCare has various engagement tools for seniors, their families, friends and carers. Participants can build up personal profiles and use the system for reminiscence activities, which is great for memory cognition!