Five things to maintain your Brain health as you age

We all age with each passing day. Aging brings physical and mental changes to our body and brain. One of the most feared changes is mental decline. We all want to stay physically and mentally active, so we can be as  independent as possible in the later stages of our lives. Here are some tips we can use towards maintaining good health.

Lifelong Learning: Being physically active as we age is known to everybody to slow down the physical decline. Similarly, learning new things as we age is important for us to slow down mental decline. Learning a new skill or keeping oneself mentally stimulated is critical for a healthy brain and memory. Research has found that people who make mental engagement a lifelong habit have a lower level of a key protein linked with Alzheimer diseases. So go ahead and exercise your brain by learning something new like a new sport, board games, a new language etc.

Vitamin D : Vitamin D is not only important for healthy bones, regulating our calcium levels and our immune systems, research has also found how important it is in cognitive functioning.It has been found beneficial for our memory. A deficiency of Vit D is linked with increased risk of cognitive decline or dementia in older adults. It has been found that lower levels of Vitamin D are linked with slower processing speed in men older than 60 years. So whatever be the season, going out and spending some time in the sun will help in boosting your overall health. Egg yolk, cod liver oil, orange juice, soy milk, fatty fishes are some other sources of Vitamin D.

Maintain Heart Health: Conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are linked with developing cardiovascular diseases as well as with developing Alzheimer’s. Some autopsy reports have found that 80% of people with Alzheimer’s also have cardiovascular diseases. If you think about how our heart supplies blood to our brain, even a slight handicap in the blood flow can cause brain tissue damage. Making heart healthy changes in our lifestyle will help our brain too.

Focus on Diet: Good nutrition is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. Adding nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, unsaturated oils (olive oil) and berries can help nourish our body and soul. Research suggests that the Mediterranean diet not only protected against Alzheimer’s (AD), but also enabled patients who have AD to live an average of four years longer. The more closely the subjects adhered to the diet, the greater the benefit. Mediterranean diet includes beans, fish, olive oil, fruits and vegetables.

Socialize: Socialization helps our brain keep sharp and also in a way helps keep our body moving. Isolation and loneliness is linked with so many psychological and physical problems. It is important to have a network of people with whom we can share our interests, conversation, information and feelings and enjoy quality time. Research has found that adults who socialize retain their episodic memory better than those who don’t socialize. Studies have found that those who are part of high discussion groups (eg book discussion club) have demonstrated high brain volumes, which has been linked to lower dementia risk. So we need to go out more often and make an effort to socialize, interact and have qualitative meaningful conversation with more people. But with the current situation of pandemic it may not be a good idea to have in person meetings but this should not stop the flow of communication. Now is the good time to write a letter or email a friend and catch up. Even a quicker way will be to pick up our phones and connect, do video calls with friends and family.

So aging should not stop us from growing our mental capacity. Taking one step at a time and making a few changes can help us age in a healthy way.

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