It is never easy to witness a relative or close companion experiencing a mental decline as they get further into old age. Seeing once sharp grandparents losing precious memories and unable to recall simple things is heartbreaking but it is important to realise that there are things that can be done to help keep your brain active.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
Most people understand that to keep your brain youthful and healthy, keeping an active mind is essential. What is less appreciated is how effective physical activity in improving brain function from memory to logic. Your brain and body are very closely connected and affect each other. Regular exercise plays an essential part in aiding long term memory as it encourages the survival and growth of newly created neurons in the brain. Hence the saying, “Healthy body, healthy mind!”
A Balanced Diet
As well as exercise, a healthy balanced diet is also important. Often referred to as ‘Brain foods’, things such as blueberries, kale, avocados, coconut oil and nuts receive a lot of attention due to their high amounts of antioxidants. To further support your brain and body, adding a multivitamin or other supplements can boost your diet and support and top up your recommended daily allowances. Supplements providing cod liver oil are considered one of the common brain food supplements as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. The beneficial effects for brain function are obtained with a daily intake of 250mg DHA.
Meditation has been practiced for centuries due to its positive effects on the mind and body. It purportedly helps to regulate mood disorders, reduces stress and anxiety and improves memory and mental dexterity. A recent study detailing long term meditators has shown that it really can help to keep your brain young. The researchers discovered that past the age of 50, the brains of those who had practiced long term meditation had a brain age that was 7 and a half years younger than the control group.
Picking up New Skills
It isn’t just meditation, practicing and taking up new challenging skills such as a musical instrument, learning a second language or juggling can change the wiring of your brain. This type of stimulus of the mind will keep your brain sharp and you can delay the cognitive declines often associated with Alzheimer’s and other diseases of the brain associated with old age.
Maintain a Good Social Life
Furthermore, making time to connect with friends and family and enjoying a rich social life is helpful for keeping your brain in shape. Several studies have shown being a part of a large social circle can lessen the cognitive effects of neurodegenerative diseases as we age.
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