Are you tired of reading that by taking the latest and greatest supplement, you can reverse the aging process, cure or prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, or reverse those well deserved wrinkles and gray hair? Me too.
In truth, you can do much to protect your brain. It’s not always fool proof, and you have to do the work…but like anything health related, your actions will have a direct impact on your health.
1. Body Exercise – Not only will exercise protect your brain, it will protect your entire body. It keeps you strong and agile (reducing your chance of falls), keeps your bones strong (reducing your risk of Osteoporosis and thus fractures), strengthens your heart (helping to prevent hypertension and heart disease), boosts your metabolic rate (by increasing your muscle strength, plus as a bonus you maintain or even lose weight), improve the efficiency of all your metabolic processes (lowers cholesterol, reduces glucose in your blood), and improves the flow of oxygen to your brain. And those are only a few of the benefits!
2. Brain Exercise – This is vital…surely you’ve heard the phrase, “Use it or Lose It”. Well, when it comes to the brain, take this literally – cognitive function declines when we don’t use our brains. So what can you do? If you don’t read…start. Do your figuring on paper instead of a calculator. Work puzzles and brain teasers. Stress yourself a bit and change how you are performing your daily activities…use your right hand instead of your left (if you are left handed like me), drive a different way to work, or get dressed in the dark by touch only (and then laugh at the results).
3. Speaking of Laughter – make sure you do this every day. It releases good chemicals into your blood stream, increases the flow of oxygen to your brain and generally just feels good. And you get to exercise those smile muscles.
4. Play Video games – yep you read that correctly. Several companies have begun to market video games that have “brain teasers”, but any type of game that has you thinking outside the box (strategy, mystery, etc) will probably do. Now…do you think you can get the game cube (or other device) away from your children/grandchildren?
5. Put yourself in new situations – for example, traveling allows you to see, taste and do different things.
6. Eat your Spinach! – Mounting evidence shows that all of us should have listened to the common sense of our mothers! The latest research is showing that folic acid may improve cognitive function. We’ve known for a long time that folks who have a high level of something called homocystine have trouble with blood vessels and an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. It seems that risk also includes the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. So what is folic acid? It’s a water soluble B vitamin found in yeast extract, green leafy vegetables (among other vegetables), and dried beans and peas to mention a few).
7. Include foods high in antioxidants in your diet. – The top 5 foods include small red beans, blueberries, red kidney beans, pinto beans and cranberries. Also high include artichokes, blackberries, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, and apples. Yum!
8. Consider a Mediterranean diet. – This would include a diet that has a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals; high intake of unsaturated fatty acids (mostly olive oil), but a low intake of saturated fatty acids; a moderately high intake of fish; a low to moderate intake of dairy products (mostly cheese or yogurt); a low intake of meat and poultry; and a regular but moderate intake of alcohol, primarily wine and with meals.
9. Supplements? – Well, it’s a mixed bag as far as evidence based medicine goes. While your best bet is eating a well balanced diet with lots of vegetables, there are studies that look at the various components of a diet such as folic acid, and natural Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Vitamin B12.
10. Socialize! – Get involved with family, friends and your community. Research has shown us that the folks who are regularly engaged in social interaction with others maintain their brain vitality. This mean the more socially active you are, the better.
Of course none of these work in isolation. It’s vital that you combine all of them for the best physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.