Changing some habits now can support your brain health in the long run!
Aging gracefully brings the opportunity to prioritize and support your brain health. As we approach the 55-year mark, it becomes increasingly vital to adopt habits that nurture our cognitive well-being for the long run.
Maintaining a sharp mind at 85 is paved with mindful choices and cautious practices. So today, Easy Seniors Club has decided to explore some simple yet effective habits that you can seamlessly incorporate into your daily routine.
By combining these habits, you’re supporting brain health and enhancing your overall quality of life. From immersing yourself in mentally stimulating activities to adopting a balanced diet and regular exercise, each habit is essential in fortifying your cognitive resilience.
So, join us on this journey as we delve into the world of 12 habits that support your brain health, empowering you to navigate the golden years with vitality, clarity, and a brain that stands the test of time.
Control your blood pressure
You might already know that having high blood pressure can increase your risk for stroke and heart disease. But having hypertension in your 50s, 60s, and 70s also increases the risk that your brain will decline later in life, according to the National Institute on Aging.
So make sure to keep a close eye on your blood pressure to support your brain health.
Maintain your friendships
Try to schedule more brunch dates and walks, or plan to check in regularly with your friends to support your brain health.
Maintaining emotional support encourages activity in specific brain circuits that produce BDNF, a molecule essential for brain cell repair and creationing new connections.
A 2017 study found that a dwindling social circle can reduce BDNF levels, which can raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. As we get older, it’s common for our social networks to shrink, making nurturing what we already have very important.
Eat more greens
According to a report in the journal Neurology, those who consume about one serving of leafy greens per day are cognitively 10 years younger than people who rarely eat them. Researchers believe that lutein, a pigment found in spinach and kale, could be the answer why.
Another report published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that lutein helps beef up grey matter in the part of the brain that’s associated with memory.
And since the brain accumulates lutein over your life span, the more you eat over a more extended period, the more you can support your brain health.
Eat more berries
Berries are one of the main foods of a brain-healthy diet, partly because they contain antioxidants that fight off oxidative stress. This is something that dramatically contributes to the decline of omega-3, docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA.
Even eating a few servings of berries a week can significantly impact preserving DHA and brain function. According to research, enjoying just two or more helpings of strawberries or blueberries weekly can delay memory decline by two and a half years.
Get sufficient amounts of sleep
If you want to support your brain health, prioritize sufficient amounts of sleep now. Deep, restorative sleep is vital for producing growth hormones, which studies have shown aid in preserving healthy brain processes like alertness and memory.
Also, our brains are programmed to get rid of waste, like the amino acid beta-amyloid, when we’re asleep. If we don’t sleep well, that waste builds up. And a build-up of beta-amyloid is the main element of Alzheimer’s plaques.
Learn to meditate
When researchers tested the brains of 50-year-old people who meditated, they discovered that their minds were about seven and a half years younger on average compared to those who didn’t practice meditation, according to the journal NeuroImage.
What’s even better is that for every year past the age of 50 people meditate, they shave an additional month and 22 days off the age of their brain. Researchers theorize that the mental energy needed to meditate causes neural nerve cell production and the formation of synapses.
Individuals who started walking 10,000 steps or more daily after 40 had younger brains, about two and a half years on average, than those who didn’t exercise at all, according to research in JAMA Network Open.
Also, getting in shape at this age helps defend you against depression as a senior, says a study in JAMA Psychiatry.
This all happens partly because exercise decreases inflammation and encourages the release of chemicals that stimulate the growth of brain cells and blood vessels in the brain.
It also reduces stress, encourages a sense of well-being, and enhances sleep, all of which help support your brain health.
Eat more fish
The omega-3 fatty acid called DHA helps your brain function more efficiently. This isn’t something your body can produce on its own. So to support your brain health, you MUST get it from somewhere else.
Fish like tuna, herring, salmon, mackerel, and sardines are chock full of DHA. This explains why research has found that eating just a single serving of fish per week can improve thinking skills, something that holds true for people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Drink alcohol responsibly
Moderate wine drinking might stop brain inflammation and help the brain get rid of toxins, notes a study in the journal Scientific Reports. That’s not to say people who don’t drink should start.
Even though light to moderate alcohol consumption raises the waste-removal function, higher alcohol intake damages that same function, thus growing inflammation. If you already drink a lot, dial back your consumption to a glass of wine daily to support your brain health.
Lower your stress levels
The stress itself isn’t the actual issue. It’s all about how you react to it. A recent study in Psychosomatic Medicine discovered that individuals who respond to stressful events with negativity experience worse mental focus and cognitive health than people who take stressful situations more in stride.
If you fall in the negative category, try finding ways to change your stress response now to support your brain health. Researchers found that people who overreact to stress as they get older perform the worst on cognitive tests.
Eat more nuts
While all nuts are well-known for being brain food, walnuts are particularly beneficial because they’re crammed with the healthy omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid. Some ALA is transformed into the omega-3 DHA. DHA is the most productive fat in the brain.
So, consumption is significant if you wish to support your brain health. Regularly eating walnuts is connected to mental flexibility, faster thinking, and better memory, according to The Journal of Nutrition. And don’t worry if you’re not a walnut fan.
Researchers found that people who are 55 years and older and eat more than 10 grams of nuts like hazelnuts, almonds, or peanuts daily have much sharper minds.
Avoid processed foods
Filling up your stomach with processed foods triggers immune-like cells, known as glial cells, in the brain.
This might lead to low-grade inflammation, which is an aspect of the development of Alzheimer’s disease, according to Dr Emeran A. Mayer, author of The Mind-Gut Connection.
Furthermore, a study published by the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging discovered that a diet that’s high in processed foods can ultimately lead to a decrease in brain tissue, and that might contribute to dementia.
Even if you’ve been a packaged and fast food fan your whole life, small healthy changes now can support your brain health. It’s never too late to improve your overall health to lower your risk of developing dementia.
So what do you think about these habits that will help support your brain health? Have you made any changes yet? Be sure to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Meanwhile Easy Seniors Club is here for all your retirement needs. For instance, did you know about these 8 States With the Worst Healthcare for Seniors?