5 Great Ways to Attain Brain Health
For the longest time people thought that the brain was fixed at about age 5 and that afterwards it went downhill. New research in neurobiology is however revealing surprising conclusions. Scientists are now discovering that regardless of age, the brain has the capacity to re-wire brain circuits, grow new neurons and make new neuron connections. This kind of brain fitness, known as neuro plasticity, is the brain’s ability to be flexible and to rewire in response to experience. Such brain fitness can be developed through steps that will ensure the brain remains fit and strong. Here are 5 steps to get you there:
Practice good nutrition
Food is the fuel that powers the brain. Be conscious of what you eat and choose foods that help protect the brain. “Brain smart” menu choices may involve limiting consumption of salt, sugar, fat, and other empty calories. Instead use fish, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats such as olive or canola oil for your diet. Water intake should also be increased. Adequate hydration helps balance sodium levels, increases mental alertness and memory. When taken on a day-to-day basis, nourishing meals improve alertness and help retain a good memory.
Stay physically active
Exercise is an extremely valuable way to enhance brain health. Simple activities like thirty minutes of brisk walking daily can improve blood flow to the brain, boosting neural growth factors and brain connectivity. Increased blood flow to the brain nourishes the brain cells with the required nutrients for proper brain functioning. A study by National Institute on Aging showed that moderate aerobic exercise can actually increase the size of the area of the brain involved in memory formation.
Getting sufficient sleep is crucial for the brain health. You’ve probably noticed that when you don’t get enough sleep at night it is harder to concentrate the next day. Adequate sleep is an important aspect of good memory. Sleep is a process with distinct stages (drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep, rapid eye movement, wakefulness) and a chronic breakdown in any part of this process results in an impaired brain memory and concentration.
Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
Many substances found in cigarette smoke damage the brain and impair memory. Research studies by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University show that chronic smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are associated with increased oxidative damage to brain tissue. And while a number of other studies suggest that drinking in moderation might actually be beneficial, having more than a drink or two per day can be toxic to the brain.
Challenge your mind and memory.
Mental stimulation encourages new connections between brain cells. It may be quite helpful to seek out a variety of mentally challenging activities. Purpose to learn a new skill regularly, like playing the piano or studying a foreign language. Visit a museum or work out a difficult puzzle.Try brushing your teeth or dialing the phone with your non-dominant hand. Such exercises strengthen new pathways in the brain and give rise to new potential abilities. Passive activities, such as watching TV, don’t offer the same benefits.