Our brain is always changing. That is the one constant about the most complex organ we have that controls every part of us. “Brain plasticity” is the process of the brain learning something new, grows new connections and repair broken ones. Throughout life as we acquire knowledge and have more experiences, our brain continues to develop. The good news is that there are several things you can do to keep your brain functioning its best as you grow wiser.
Try a new activity. Anything, really, anything! Reading, puzzles, games, outdoor activities, sports, art, music, pottery, photography... you get it! Stimulate your brain.
Feed your brain with healthy nutritious foods. Some foods that stimulate brain function are: fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, unsaturated oils (olive oil) and plant proteins.
Keep moving. Physical activity is good for your body and mind as it can increase oxygen flow as well as the growth of new nerve cells and connections between brain cells. Exercise lowers blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels while reducing stress.
Sleep well. During sleep, your brain works overtime to repair itself. There is such a thing as too much sleep and that can lead to inactivity and obesity. Find your sweet spot.
Get social. Creating and nurturing relationships with others keeps life fun and interesting. Being social has been linked to lower blood pressure, lower risk of dementia and longer life expectancy.
Manage your blood pressure. Having high blood pressure can lead to not only heart problems but cognitive issues as well.
Manage your blood sugar. Diabetes is a risk factor for dementia. Eating right, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight help balance your blood sugar.
Limit alcohol. Excessive alcohol use is a major risk factor for dementia.
Protect your head. Head injuries increase the risk of impaired brain function. Avoid falls, wear a helmet for activities like biking, skiing, or rock climbing, remove potential hazards from your path and always use good lighting.
Manage stress. Excessive worry and stress has been shown to lower performance on cognitive tests. Try yoga, meditation, journaling, taking a walk or listening to music to relax and clear your head. Then you can focus on the cause and a plan to address it.
Talk to your doctor with any concerns.
SOURCES: https://acl.gov/sites/default/files/news%202016-10/BrainHealthKeyFactsResources.pdf https://brainhealth.nia.nih.gov/engage-your-brain https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/12-ways-to-keep-your-brain-young