5 Ways to Keep Your Brain Young
It is inevitable, we all age. And as we age, our body starts to slow down -- including our brain. We know that with age brain volume shrinks. We also know that the risk of cognitive decline increases with advancing age.
Even though mental decline is an accepted part of the aging process, we can take steps to keep our brain sharp and healthy. Here are 5 easy steps you can take to help keep your brain young.
Working out not only helps you keep a svelte figure but it improves your mind.
Studies have shown that when you regularly exercise it increases the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought. Physical exercise also triggers the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells. This increase in elasticity helps brains become more efficient and adaptive, which improves performance in aging.
We recommend that you find a form of exercise you enjoy and stick to it. It is best if you workout every day, if you can, but at least three times a week. In recent research, strength or resistance training that builds and tones muscle seems to be superior to aerobic exercise (walking, running) in preventing and managing insulin resistance. This matters because insulin helps your brain regulate cognitive functions, particularly memory.
Similarly to physical exercise, you need to regularly work your brain. Research has shown that these scholastic activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and can even help the brain create new cells, developing neurological "plasticity" and building up a functional reserve that helps prevent future cell loss.
What are brainy exercises? It can be as simple as reading, taking classes and learning new things. You can even try your hand at word puzzles, Sudoku or math problems. If you are more of a creative type try drawing, painting and other artistic crafts.
Your mind and body is an interconnected machine that is working 24/7. The “fuel,” what you eat and drink, has a major impact on how you physically feel, your mood and overall well being -- what you put in your body makes all the difference.
It is essential that you eat and drink high-quality products that contain lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that nourish and support the brain. If you can’t eat them all in a day, find ways to incorporate it into your lifestyle through supplements and drinks like Higher Mind.
I cannot stress enough to stay clear or processed or refined foods and sugar, we will talk about sugar in the next section. Unfortunately for Americans, processed and refined foods are staples in the “Western” diet and cuisine.
Recent research has shown that a better diet quality is related to larger total brain volume. This suggests that the potential of nutrition to influence cognition and the risk of developing dementia through brain structure.
I recommend to start paying attention to how eating different foods makes you feel in that moment, day and even the following day. To go a step further, try eating a “clean” diet for two to three weeks; which means cutting out all processed foods and sugar. I promise you can do it and will feel better for it.
Sugar is most likely the biggest enemy of your brain. Our brain uses glucose, a form of sugar, as its source of fuel, but we simply consume way too much of it. This leads to very destructive consequences to our brain and our overall health. This is a national health crisis — in 2008, people in the US were consuming over 60 pounds (28 kg) of added sugar per year and this does not include fruit juices.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons) for men and 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons) for women. But even that is pretty high.
Sugar has many names like glucose, fructose, honey and corn syrup. While a little bit of sugar is nothing to be concerned about, most Americans consume around 3x our recommended amount (WHO recommends 5%). Furthermore, almost 74% of packaged foods contain sugar.
Diets high in refined sugar are destructive to our brain and these symptoms include memory and cognitive deficiencies, mood disorders like depression, cell aging and literally slowing down your brain.
Please read the labels of everything you consume and try and leave items on the shelf that have more than 20 grams of sugar. Especially look at the drinks you consume as most of them have your entire daily allotment. To put this in perspective, a 12 fl oz Coca Cola has 39 grams of sugar and 8.4 fl oz Red Bull Energy Drink contains 27 grams of sugars!
To be frank, I knew stress wasn’t good but I had no idea how damaging it is to your brain before I did my research for this article. I live in New York City and it is very common to hear people boast about how stressful their jobs are as though it is a symbol of respect and success. This needs to change because it can take years of your life and your brain.
Recent research suggests that the actual number of stressful experiences we have can have substantial consequences for the health of our brains. Each instance of stress was said to age the brain by an average of 1.5 years. Doing the math, a handful of these events could set you back a decade in terms of cognition.
It is critical to learn how to manage your stress. Many people do this physically through meditation, working out, managing their sleep and spending meaningful time with friends and family. You should also consider supplements like Ashwagandha and green tea, both found in Higher Mind. Research has shown that they can lower stress and anxiety.
Also, take a moment and identity where your major stress is coming from and try to clear those obstacles from your path. Please make your health a priority and make the changes necessary so that you live a full life.
As you’ve read, there is a lot we can do to maintain and even repair our brains. We hope this article has helped you identify what you’ve been doing right and where you can improve to feel and perform at your best. A healthy brain means a happier life.