Nine brain health tips

The brain changes as we age, and those changes cause slight declines. The declines often include slowness in thinking, shorter attention span, poorer memory, and difficulty finding the right word when speaking.

The good news about the brain is that it’s very resilient. A healthy lifestyle can not only slow mental decline, but also help to rebuild and boost brain function.

The connection between the mind and body is very real. By combining good nutrition, exercise, socialization, and mental stimulation, you can not only improve brain health, but your whole health too.

1. Exercise your body

Being active raises our heartbeat and forces blood and oxygen to vital organs, including the brain. Exercise also engages the senses and stimulates brain activity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  recommend adults 65 years and older get at least 150 minutes a week of fairly intense activity such as brisk walking. That’s 30 minutes of activity, five days a week.

2. Exercise your brain

Participate in activities that challenge your brain. Playing cards and games, learning a new skill, engaging in the arts, and reading are good ways to keep your brain active.

3. Eat foods that are good for your brain, and stay hydrated

Your diet plays a big role in brain function. Do your best to eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and seafood, while eating fewer fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, sugary drinks, and sweets. By eating healthfully, you’ll get nutrients that improve brain health such as vitamin E, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Wash everything down with plenty of water and other fluids. Good hydration has been associated with better concentration and enhanced short-term memory.

4. Improve your heart health

A healthy brain needs a healthy cardiovascular system. You and your doctor should keep an eye on blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels. This, along with a healthy body weight, will go a long way in improving how your brain functions.

5. Avoid tobacco

Smoking can harm all your organs, including your brain. The American Heart Association  reported that smokers scored lower than nonsmokers on a test for a wide range of brain functions. Quitting the habit improves your chances of better brain health, even if you’ve smoked for many years. Talk to your doctor about ways to stop smoking.

6. Limit your alcohol intake, or eliminate it completely

In January 2023, the World Health Organization  said: When it comes to alcohol consumption, there is no safe amount that does not affect health. Alcohol has been found to cause cancer and too much drinking is a major risk factor for developing dementia.

Drinking is a common social activity in the United States, which can make it difficult to give it up. If you’re going to drink, keep it to two drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women.

7. Reduce stress

Stress is a normal part of life. Short-term stress can be helpful because it prepares the body to deal with challenges. However, long-term or chronic stress can harm your brain, body, and your overall health. Exercise, hobbies, restful sleep, spending time with loved ones, and practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness can help keep stress at a healthy level.

8. Get plenty of sleep

A good night’s sleep is important, no matter your age. A restful seven to nine hours a night is best for brain health. Sleep problems, such as not enough sleep, sleeping poorly, and sleep disorders can lead to difficulties with memory, concentration, and other brain functions. If you’re not sleeping well, talk to your doctor about ways to ensure healthy sleep habits.

9. Be social

Humans are social beings and connecting with others has been shown to lower the risk of dementia and increase life expectancy. From talking on the phone to face-to-face gatherings and from volunteering to joining a club, there are many ways to socialize and gain the benefits.