Boosting Brain Health by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

The brain is an amazing part of the body. Research into the brain has created a wealth of information anyone can use to boost their brain health, which is critical in reducing and even eliminating cognitive decline as people age.

One of the new understandings of the brain is the ability of the cells to generate throughout out, creating neuroplasticity. This allows for multiple pathways in the brain, ensuring that information and functioning are unimpeded. While this is critical after a stroke or similar neurological condition, researchers also find these multiple pathways are also effective in eliminating the age-related loss of brain cells that can negatively impact functioning.

It is never too early or too late to start focusing on brain health. Here are a few simple yet effective strategies to help your brain to get healthy and stay healthy.

  • Physical activity – regular, moderate levels of exercise are important for the brain. It improves the cardiovascular system, bringing oxygen-rich blood to all cells in the body, including those of the brain. Exercise is also essential in reducing blood pressure and maintaining a blood sugar balance in the blood, all which are essential for brain cell function.
  • Good nutrition – you are what you eat is not just a catch phrase. Research indicates a diet high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, lean meats (in limited quantities) and unsaturated oils is linked to less risk of developing dementia and cognitive decline. Omega fatty acids in fish, olive oil and nuts are important for brain health as well as the cardiovascular system, adding a double benefit.
  • Be creative – doing new activities and learning new things is a workout for the brain that provides very positive results. New learning requires new neuropathways, and these can also be linked to increased socialization, another great way to keep your brain engaged.
  • Become mindful – thinking about thinking, or metacognition, is a great way to build up the brain. Allowing the mind to take the time to process information, to be creative, and to become more aware of all aspects of life is critical to a healthy brain.
  • Lower stress – research into the impacts of stress demonstrates how high-stress levels impact all areas of physical and mental health. Simple ways to help de-stress your life include spending time outside, playing and enjoying time with friends and family and in activities like yoga, physical exercise and even walking and jogging.
  • Engage with others – if you find you are socializing through social media or email it is time to make a change. Engaging with others in conversations and interactions is critical to the brain. Not only does it create new learning, but it also helps to reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.

Art, music, dance, doodling and just having fun with people are all great ways to give your brain a workout. Crosswords, memory games, cards and even brain boosting apps can also supplement brain workout activities, helping you to keep your brain in top shape.