How to improve brain health?

The brain is undoubtably incredible, known as the control centre for your entire body and in charge of a huge variety of complex bodily processes (1). Enabling you to be able to think, process information, express emotions, breathe, blink, laugh, cry, move. The WHO defines brain health as ‘a state in which every individual can realize their own abilities and optimize their cognitive, emotional, psychological and behavioural functioning to cope with life situations.’ (2)   

Old age is the leading risk factor for the development of neurodegenerative disease. (3) Lifestyle choices also impact the health of your brain, a healthy heart = healthy brain (4). High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes all increase your risk of neurological disease What you eat, where you live, stress levels, all impact too. Age is something that we are unable to avoid but what we can do is use time to our advantage by starting to make healthier lifestyle changes today. 

When thinking about the health of your brain the focus should lie on preservation the functioning to keep optimum health with the absence of disease. 

5 ways to take care of your brain: 

  1. Regular exercise – aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise x5 days a week as well as keeping as active as possible throughout the day. This will help to keep your blood pressure and heart in good health to support your brain. 
  1. Diet – Reduction of processed foods and higher uptake on plants, lean protein and unsaturated fats to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and supply the body with essential fatty acids. Optimum omega 3: omega 6 ratio – 1:1 – 1:4 (5) 
  1. Social interaction- Staying social active has an incredible effect on the health of your brain. Strong social connections may be as important as physical activity and a healthy diet. (6) 
  1. Sleep – Consistent high-quality sleep regularly. This will help with mental functioning and memory. 
  1. Mentally active – think of your brain like a muscle that needs to be trained to stay healthy. Undertaking regular mental stimulating activities such as reading, writing, puzzles, crosswords, board or card games, group discussions and playing music. (7) 

References

  1. What is brain health and why is it important? (2021). Retrieved 17 March 2021, from https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/371/bmj.m3683.full.pdf 
  1. Brain health. (2021). Retrieved 17 March 2021, from https://www.who.int/health-topics/brain-health#tab=tab_1 
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy aging. What is a healthy brain? New research explores perceptions of cognitive health among diverse older adults. (2021). Retrieved 17 March 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/perceptions_of_cog_hlth_factsheet.pdf 
  1. Monique Tello, M. (2019). Brain health rests on heart health: Guidelines for lifestyle changes – Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved 17 March 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/whats-good-for-the-heart-is-good-for-the-mind-2-2019061216812 
  1. Petersson, S., & Philippou, E. (2016). Mediterranean Diet, Cognitive Function, and Dementia: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. Advances In Nutrition7(5), 889-904. doi: 10.3945/an.116.012138 
  1. Publishing, H. (2010). The health benefits of strong relationships – Harvard Health. Retrieved 17 March 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/the-health-benefits-of-strong-relationships 
  1. Publishing, H. (2021). Protecting against cognitive decline – Harvard Health. Retrieved 17 March 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/protecting-against-cognitive-decline 

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