Best in Brain Health: Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Brain
No matter your age or how sharp your memory is, it can’t hurt to incorporate more ways to keep your brain healthy into your daily life. You might just find that some brain health exercises are fun, while other foods that are healthy for your brain are also utterly delicious. It’s never too soon or too late to get started. You only have one brain, after all.
Unlike our fingers or our skin, we can’t detect when something is wrong with our brain by examining it in our hands. If your mind feels foggy, your memory loss is worsening, or you just feel something is off, don’t fret. There are many options out there to improve brain health, from Neurotherapy exercises to supplements. And for those of you who are wondering, how can I improve my brain health naturally? There are several options for you too.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
When Amanda Kirton arrived at Georgetown Hospital in 2017, she was complaining about stomach pain. As it turns out, Kirton had had a massive stroke that would change her life forever. After spending six months in hospitals and surviving two cardiac arrests (among other things), she bravely details her frightening and yet inspiring journey on her blog.
Certainly, Kirton could never have imagined that she would go through what she did. Her story is a reminder to us all about the importance of being proactive about our brain health, as events like these can be next to impossible to predict. That’s why we will be taking a close look at the 6 pillars of brain health in this article, which may help you prevent stroke, dementia, and other conditions that affect brain health.
The 6 Pillars of Brain Health
Remember how we were talking about being more proactive? If you don’t remember, you’re in the right place. Each pillar is something you can do every day (and night) to prevent memory loss and promote healthy brain function. The best part is, by following these six pillars you can actually bring improvements to many areas of your life.
Pillar #1: Exercise Regularly
It should come as no surprise that exercising regularly is good for you. Something as simple as walking for 30 minutes each day can significantly boost heart health. As for your brain? Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress, boost your mood, improve your memory, and increase your energy. Add a few knee-ups or side steps while walking and your brain and sensory proprioception get a workout too.
Experts recommend 30 minutes of walking, swimming, or another aerobic activity at least five days a week. You can also improve your balance to reduce your risk of falling and bonking your head, an incident that can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s. There are some great places in Wilco to improve your balance and better your brain. Including:
- Soul Strong Yoga in Round Rock and Om Sweet Om Yoga Ranch in Liberty Hill
- Pilates, Cycling, or Barre at Truecore in Georgetown
- A good old walk at your favorite nature trail in Wilco
- Don’t forget your brain! Enjoy speech therapy with Reavisrehab.
Pillar #2: Eat Wisely
More specifically, eat foods that reduce inflammation in your whole body-brain included. Here’s what you can do:
- Follow a Mediterranean diet that includes fish, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and lots of fresh produce from the local farmer’s market. Every now and then, a glass of red wine and a square of dark chocolate is A-OK as well.
- Avoid trans fats and saturated fats like the plague. Seriously, these are no good; full-dairy products, red meat, fast food, fried food, packaged and processed food items have all got to go.
- Stock up on omega-3 fatty acids in the form of supplements or foods, such as salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. If this is all sounding very heart-healthy to you, keep in mind that what’s good for your heart is great for your brain.
- Eat 4-6 smaller meals each day rather than three big meals to keep your blood sugar consistent and minimize inflammation.
- The more colorful the merrier; different fruits and vegetables serve different health benefits. Eat across the rainbow with a variety of leafy greens and berries to benefit from a full spectrum of antioxidants and vitamins.
Pillar #3: Stimulate Your Mind Often
In the same way, we exercise our bodies to maintain our muscles, we have to regularly put in the effort to exercise our brains. When was the last time you memorized a set of digits that was longer than a telephone number? Can you name all fifty states? Have you ever tried Sudoku? Warning: it’s not easy, but that’s the point!
A good session of puzzles, riddles, strategy games, and memorization can make your mind feel overworked. Just remember, sore muscles are a sign the workout is working. A little training each day can keep you mentally sharp, and it can be a great way to socialize too. This leads us to our next point…
Pillar #4: Be Social
This one might come as a surprise, but as humans, we are wired to socialize and be part of a community. In fact, studies show that the more healthy connections people have, the better they perform on memory and cognition tests. And it makes sense, seeing as there’s no one to tell you that you’re talking in circles when your only friend is the wall.
For some of us, it’s easy to become completely isolated and not even realize it. Don’t let yourself be lonely; visit people you care about, make new friends, volunteer, take group classes, and get to know your neighbors. It takes a village to raise a healthy brain.
Pillar #5: Catch Lots of Quality Sleep
Adults need at least eight hours of sleep every night. It’s critical for memory formation, problem-solving, recalling information, thinking clearly, and a whole lot more. Sure, sleep deprivation makes you feel cranky, but a lack of sleep puts more than your mood at risk. If you regularly miss out on sleep, you may be increasing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. At the very least, sleep deprivation can make it harder for you to do…well, just about everything. You can improve the quality of your sleep by:
- Following a consistent sleep schedule
- Eliminating late afternoon naps
- Cutting out caffeine past 3 PM (don’t forget that tea has caffeine too!)
- Banning phones, computers, and other screens from your bed
- Creating a bedtime ritual like reading or relaxing in a hot bath
Pillar #6: Be Stress-Free
Both acute and prolonged stress can be extremely detrimental to the brain and the body as a whole. When your body’s stress response—or, the “fight or flight response”—is triggered, stress hormones like cortisol run amok through the body. If that stress continues over a long period of time, stress hormones can increase your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and even cancer.
A bad day here and there won’t kill you (that’s our hope, anyway), but you shouldn’t let small stress or even large stress hamper your overall happiness. It’s not worth it! The next time you are feeling stressed and you’re not sure what to do about it:
- Treat yourself to a massage. All Care Therapies in Georgetown offers massages as well as therapies for improving cognitive function.
- Laugh and party with friends from around the world, while watching a Comedy Special with friends on Netflix. Your brain is going to love it!
- Eat a piece of chocolate from Srsly Chocolate. Just one square, of course.
Looking for the Best in Brain Health?
Look to your plate, your pillow, and the people who make you smile. Our brains are inconceivably complex organs that even the most whip-smart of scientists can’t wrap their minds around. But despite everything the brain is capable of, it still can’t predict how the future will unfold. The best we can do to promote a healthy brain is to be proactive. So eat well, sleep plenty, walk more, and enjoy every step of the journey. And don’t forget to stop by our directory often for more health and wellness guides.