The brain is the body’s most complex organ. It’s also the most important one. That’s why keeping it healthy is critical, especially as you age. Every day, scientists are discovering how closely our minds and bodies are connected. As it turns out, the things that you do to keep your body and heart healthy may also be good for your brain. Here are eight healthy habits and activities to include in your daily routine to help you keep your brain healthy and sharp in the years ahead:
Physical activity is good for your health at any age. Studies show that being active is associated with a lower risk of brain issues. Whether it’s nightly walks, playing with the grandkids or taking your favourite yoga class, find an activity that meets your needs and gets your heart pumping for at least 30 minutes every day.
The antioxidants in nutrient-dense foods like berries, broccoli and legumes, and included in fats such as olive oil, may lower some risks to your brain. Try eating a healthy, low-fat, low-cholesterol diet with lots of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. Wholegrains such as oatmeal and brown rice are beneficial too.
High blood pressure can have serious effects on your brain health. If your blood pressure is high, get it under control. It may help reduce some risks to your brain.
How the body handles alcohol can change with age. Some older adults can feel “high” without increasing the amount of alcohol they drink. This can make them more likely to become confused or have accidents. So limit the amount of alcohol you drink or don’t drink it at all.
Poor sleep, or inadequate sleep (due to insomnia or sleep apnea) doesn’t just leave you feeling tired, it can have serious physical effects and can affect memory and thought processes too. Seven to eight hours is a good night’s sleep.
When you learn things, you engage your brain. Try something you haven’t done before: learn French, take up ballroom dancing or carpentry, for example. Challenging your brain on a regular basis is fun and beneficial.
Science has shown that regular engagement in social activities can help reduce some risks to your brain. Stay connected, and invite family or friends over for a meal or for a day out somewhere.
As you age, some changes in brain function, including short-term memory, happen more frequently than when you were younger. If you have questions or are concerned, consult your doctor.
For more tips on keeping your brain healthy and thriving, visit BrainHealth.gov.