Our brain’s cognitive function and efficiency do deplete with age, but specific lifestyle changes can ensure optimum brain function at all ages. According to researchers from UCLA, implementing specific lifestyle strategies decreases brain metabolism in the brain’s working memory regions, increasing efficiency in just 14 days.
9 Simple Brain Function Changes
Brain changes affect mental function, but there are several ways to ensure that cognitive impairment is not inevitable. Implementing the following lifestyle changes will improve brain function and prevent mental decline.
1. Get Physically Active
Regular physical exercise has many excellent benefits for the body and brain, so stay active. In addition, research studies on physically active people show they have a far smaller chance of experiencing mental function decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists and doctors believe this is because of increased blood flow to the brain and because exercise can counter brain connection reduction caused by aging.
Choose any exercise you prefer, but it should be a moderate aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate. Whether you choose to walk, do yoga, swim, or play tennis, participate several times a week for 30 – 60 minutes.
2. Keep Blood Pressure, Sugar Levels, and Cholesterol Down
From midlife onwards, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol increase the risk of cognitive decline.
There are several ways to keep your blood pressure low with lifestyle modification. Stay slim, remember to exercise regularly, reduce your stress levels, eat healthily, and limit alcohol intake. Your doctor will prescribe medication if your blood pressure persists despite making lifestyle changes.
Diabetes is a proven risk factor for dementia. Its prevention requires that you follow all of the lifestyle habits mentioned that are necessary to maintain low blood pressure levels. In addition, people with diabetes must control their sugar levels with prescribed medication.
High levels of bad cholesterol or LDL appear to increase your risk for dementia. So besides maintaining a healthy diet, exercise, avoid tobacco and maintain a healthy weight to help control your cholesterol levels. If these refuse to budge, medication will help to prevent it.
3. Embrace Healthy Eating Habits
A good diet is vital to brain health. One of the healthiest diets to follow is the Mediterranean diet because it is completely balanced. It includes eating less red meats and salt and more whole grains and plant-based foods, fatty fish, and olive oil (a healthy fat). It combines much less red meat and salt than a typical American diet.
Research shows that people who reduce their intake of fats decrease their risk of having Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists are still not sure how brain function is affected by food, but they already understand that healthy fats contain omega fatty acids that seem to decrease the risk of heart disease and cognitive decline. These fatty acids also increase mental focus.
4. Preserve Your Mental Health
Mental health issues appear to affect the cognitive score of people. Try to avoid anxiety and depression because even though they don’t predict cognitive decline as you age, they can prevent your brain from functioning optimally.
5. Maintain a Social Life
Social interaction with strong social ties can ward off depression, stress, and dementia. Active social life and friends also increase life expectancy and control blood pressure. Research has shown that the brain atrophies when people are in solitary confinement, so if you want a healthy and robust brain, make a point of meeting with your loved ones.
6. Avoid Alcohol and Cut Out Tobacco Use
Try and take up to two or three alcoholic drinks a week because excessive intake increases the risk for dementia. On the other hand, tobacco is not suitable for the brain, so avoid it altogether.
7. Get Enough Rest
Brain health and a good night’s rest go hand in hand. Seven to eight consecutive hours a night are what you need to consolidate memories and clear abnormal proteins from the brain, boosting your brain function. Fragmented sleep does not seem to have the same benefits, so you should address it if you suffer from sleep apnea.
8. Avoid Head Injuries
Studies have shown that even moderate head injuries can increase cerebral impairment.
9. Provide Your Brain With Mental Stimulation
Just like your muscles require exercise, so does your brain. Use your brain to ensure it remains active. The best training for your brain will depend on what you enjoy, so indulge in reading, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, word games like Wordle, or even jigsaw puzzles. Try different activities to exercise all areas of the brain. Passive activities like watching TV do not stimulate the brain enough.
The nine brain function changes we’ve outlined are by no means an exhaustive list, but they provide a great starting point for keeping your mind healthy and active. In addition, making even one or two of these changes can help you keep your mental faculties sharp as you age. So try adding some of these tips to your daily routine and see how much better you feel – both mentally and physically!