Start NOW! A Healthy Brain is Just a Few Changes Away


As we all grow older, keeping our memory intact and our thought processes efficient becomes extremely important. No one wants to “lose himself” later in life or experience the feeling that you are starting to “slip.” And, although the causes of brain function loss such as with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are not yet definitive, there is evidence that some lifestyle changes can greatly reduce the risk.

Start working toward a brain-healthy future right now for a happier later life by eliminating poor habits and replacing them with new and better ones.

1. A healthy heart leads to a healthy mind. There is a direct correlation between cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of developing mental difficulties later in life, so taking care of your heart can go a long way toward a bright cognitive future.

  • Stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption. It’s NEVER too late to quit a bad habit. Smoking and alcohol damages and inhibits your cardiovascular system. For smoking, it is best to quit entirely. Drinking can still be enjoyed but should be limited to one drink a day for women and two drinks for men.
  • Exercise is key. You have to move as best as you can. Studies have shown that daily physical exercise can prevent or at least postpone cognitive impairment in later years. As little as 30 minutes a day can make a difference.
  • Visit your doctor regularly. If you do not have a doctor right now, get one. Monitoring your health, especially blood pressure, can prevent and forestall any future problems. Don’t let yourself be “surprised” by a malady; instead, actively work to avoid any future illness.

2. Only use the best ingredients. What you put in affects what you get out. If you want your body and mind to operate at their very best as long as possible, then giving it the best ingredients will help you achieve your goal. As you get older, being conscious of your diet is very important.

  • Avoid sugar as much as possible. Even without the problem of diabetes, high blood sugar can negatively affect your brain and increases risk of dementia. Try to avoid heavy consumption of sugary sodas, teas, sweets and candies.
  • Eat your vegetables. Veggies hold more of the nutrients needed to reduce the risk of dementia and memory loss as we age. Leafy vegetables such as kale, lettuce, collards and spinach have been specifically shown to lower risk.
  • Snack on berries and to a lesser extent, nuts. In particular, the flavonoids in berries and the vitamin E in nuts are both known for their brain-protecting properties. As for nuts, unsalted works the best but if salt helps you to choose nuts over anything else, go for it (just limit more). 
  • Add fish to your diet at least once a week. Studies have shown that those who consume seafood at least once a week consistently outperform on memory tests. The reason could be seafood’s high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids that function to build membranes around body cells including brain cells.
  • Choose olive oil over butters, margarines and other oils. Olive oil is lower in saturated fat and higher in vitamins E and K, and beneficial fatty acids.

3. Join the rest of the world. Being social can ward off cognitive decline by reducing isolation, loneliness and by keeping you engaged in thought and activities. As the pandemic starts to ebb, opportunities to get out and about should be plentiful. Take advantage.

  • Volunteer for something you believe in. There are groups and organizations out there that can use all the help they can get. Why not take some time and show up?
  • Volunteering can lead you to friendships and purpose. Reconnect and renew your mind.
  • Find a new hobby or activity. There is a group or organization out there for everything. Do you enjoy playing cards? Bowling? Dancing? Writing? There is a group for you. If you are hesitant about engaging with the rest of the world again, sometimes partaking in a hobby or activity you enjoy can make meeting new people easier.
  • Connect with old friends. Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to spend time with friends who have moved away or are isolated. Take time to learn how to use the technology of today. You CAN do it and there are people out there who will help you.


4. Enjoy mental gymnastics. One of the easiest ways to keep your mind sharp is to use it. It’s so easy that you can do it at any time and anywhere under nearly any circumstance and yet, so very few do. Take a break, turn off the TV and turn on your mind.

  • Open a book. Simply reading a book can do wonders for your memory and mental performance throughout your later life.
  • Take a class. Most community colleges have discounted rates for seniors who are interested in taking a class or learning a new skill. Challenge yourself. Learn a language or new technology. Mental engagement is key.
  • Fall in love with puzzles and trivia. Keep a small book of crosswords handy for when you have downtime out and about. Try math puzzles, word searches or anything that makes you use your noggin. Have a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle available whenever you are ready to “find a piece.”

The time to start working toward good brain health is now. Thinking ahead and changing your habits can give you the best chance for a mentally sharp future.


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