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How a Healthy Lifestyle improves your Brain Health from now on

How a Healthy Lifestyle improves your Brain Health from now on

For most of us, it’s hard to imagine growing old, let alone what it would be like to experience cognitive decline. But, it is a fact of life that our brain, in the same way as our body, naturally starts slowing down at the age of just 30 – hard to believe, huh!

Even though this may seem a little scary, scientists now say there’s growing evidence that the lifestyle choices we make right now can have a great impact on how our brain and bodies experience change as we grow older.

Here’s what you can do to improve your brain health:


1. Get your blood pumping

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Yup, you guessed it: whether it’s hitting the gym, getting active outdoors, or however you choose to move your body, exercise is your new best friend when it comes to preserving your mind and body. It’s all about raising your heart rate and getting the blood pumping to feed your brain with much needed oxygen that nourishes and revitalises cells. In particular, aerobic exercise (exercise that raises your heart rate) was shown to reduce brain-tissue loss, and it has even be shown to sharpen your brain after years of sedentary living!


2. Eat smart


Research on diet and cognitive function might still be limited, but there’s enough out there to show that paying attention to what we put in our bodies is critical to managing our health: a proven indicator to a healthy brain is a healthy heart. In combination with a good workout routine, the right diet can easily reduce the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. Eat smart with diets like the Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to stop Hypertension) that were shown to be most effective in reducing the risk of cognitive decline. Be mindful of your fat intake, and make sure you get enough vegetables and fruits. In particular, colourful fruit and veg are packed with antioxidants – and these little gems are well-known as cancer fighters, have the power to neutralise harmful free radicals and, on top of this, improve overall cognitive health. Some of our favourite brain protecting foods are goji berries, beans, wild blueberries, whole grains, pecans, artichokes and even dark chocolate (yes, you heard right, chocolate!).


3. Keep the cogs turning


We already mentioned that from the age of 30, our minds and bodies start changing. It’s long been thought that aging isn’t something that can be reversed, however new studies show the opposite: no matter how old you are, your brain is a learning machine and can be trained to be faster, and in effect, younger. Retraining your brain may sound a touch overwhelming, but it’s not hard - all that’s required is a few challenging mind games or exercises to stimulate your brain cells. Chess, Bridge or Sudoku have shown to have similar effects to scientifically developed brain games, even getting artsy or completing a jigsaw puzzle can have short and long-term benefits for your brain. Choosing social activities like chess is also killing two birds with one stone because social engagement is just as important as intellectual stimulation for keeping your brain healthy – plus, it’s fun too!


4. Try to fit in enough Zzz’s

Do you wake up with a foggy mind or struggle to concentrate during a busy work day? The chances are high that you’re not getting enough quality sleep. Lacking hours of sleep due to insomnia or sleep apnea can result in problems with memory and thinking. Long term sleep deprivation can cause the brain to literally eat itself – the brain cells that destroy and digest worn-out cells and debris go into overdrive in mice that are chronically sleep-deprived. This increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders that can occur as we grow older, so getting good quality sleep really is a no-brainer (excuse the pun). The good news is that the formula to growing old gracefully and healthily isn’t hard – it’s simply, giving your brain (and your body!) what it needs to function best: regular exercise, good nutrition, and mental, social and physical stimulation.






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