Refine your regular lifestyle choices to improve brain health
Special to Nevada Appeal
Our brain controls the function of our entire body, and the body’s response to how we live our lives has an effect on our brain. Everyday activities can improve brain health and help avoid dementia and memory loss.
With this in mind, here are some simple tips to follow to bolster your brain health:
Food plays an important role in brain health. Research shows that a heart-healthy diet in early adulthood leads to better brain function in middle age.
In a recent study, those eating a Mediterranean diet high in fruits, vegetables and legumes; moderate in nuts, fish and alcohol; and low in meat were 46 percent more likely to have better cognitive function than those who didn’t.
Cognition and memory are linked to sleep. When sleep is interrupted, it is difficult to form or maintain the pathways in the brain that let us learn and create new memories.
As challenging as it might be, getting an uninterrupted seven to eight hours of sleep helps the brain concentrate and respond quickly throughout the day.
If your sleep is fragmented, talk with your health care provider about testing for sleep disorders or other issues that could be getting in the way of your brain’s performance.
Exercise is another way to oxygenate and support the brain, as it directly increases the size or volume of the hippocampus — where memory formation happens.
During the natural process of aging, brain size decreases. Chemicals released by the brain during exercise can protect it from this process.
For healthy brain function, aim for 20 minutes of physical activity per day.
There is even more you can do to keep your brain healthy. Being social with others is known to reduce stress and depression while improving cognition and memory.
Engaging in challenging new tasks, such as learning a different language or trying a new hobby, is also important for brain health. Try to avoid passive activities, such as watching television, for long amounts of time.
Reducing the medical risk factors for heart disease and stroke is a key part of preserving brain health.
High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, higher cholesterol, and smoking all increase the risk for dementia. Incorporating behaviors that promote our brain health can have a tremendous impact on overall mental and physical wellbeing.
Dr. Rituparna Das is a board-certified neurologist practicing at Barton Neurology in South Lake Tahoe. She specializes in treating nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, migraines, epilepsy, stroke and vertigo, as well as memory conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Visit bartonhealth.org/neurology to learn more.