As you get older, what you eat isn’t just about keeping your waistline small – it’s about keeping your brain healthy as well. The foods you eat, especially foods high in antioxidants, can help ward off dementia and improve your brain health.
1. Regular aerobic exercise
Scientists are starting to think that regular aerobic exercise may be the single most important thing you can do for the long-term health of your brain. While the heart and lungs respond loudly to a sprint on the treadmill, the brain is quietly getting fitter with each step, too. For mental fitness, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every other day.
2. Get a social life
People who maintain strong connections with friends and family not only live up to 20 percent longer, but are also likelier to retain their memory, abstract thinking and language skills. Make an effort to surround yourself with people who inspire you to be creative and challenge your intellect. Try forming a book club, or take stimulating group trips to museums, lectures and poetry readings.
3. Have fish once a week
People who eat fish once a week have a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to research by Martha Clare Morris, ScD, an epidemiologist and associate professor of internal medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The reason is DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in large quantities in the brain and in cold water species of fish, such as salmon, tuna, and cod. Morris recently found that a weekly seafood-based meal may slow cognitive decline by 10% per year—the equivalent of turning back the clock 3 to 4 years.
4. Hit the sheets
Decreased estrogen in women is associated with lessened brain activity and poor memory. Engaging in sexual activity at least once a week enhances estrogen levels, thereby improving overall brain function.
5. Take a daily brain break
We are creatures of habit and tend to engage in the same activities and behavior patterns. In fact, the brain „prefers” novelty and unexpected events. When we mentally challenge ourselves on a regular basis, we can maintain good intellectual potential as well as reduce our risk for age-related memory loss. Challenge yourself with brain games scientifically developed to give your mind a workout.
6. Get your beauty rest
When we rest and dream, memories are sifted through, some discarded, others consolidated and saved. When we don’t sleep, a recent study found, proteins build up on synapses, possibly making it hard to think and learn new things. Furthermore, chronically sleeping poorly (in contrast to not enough) is linked to cognitive decline in old age, although the relationship may not be causal.
7. Eat right to stay bright
Foods that are rich in antioxidants—such as berries, dark leafy greens, grapes, carrots, beets and tomatoes—have been proven to keep your brain in peak working order by preventing cholesterol from lining your arteries and slowing blood flow to the brain. Now there’s mounting evidence that omega-3 fatty acids are also essential to good brain health.
8. Keep your happy thoughts
Experts know that positive emotions have a beneficial effect on your ability to process information and are linked to better brain health over the long run. one study found that people who frequently experience positive emotions were 60% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, while another found that older adults with lower levels of chronic stress scored better on memory tests. If you’ve had a bad day, simply press „eject” on your mental DVD player and pop in a feel-good memory instead.