5 Tips for a Brain Healthy Diet
By Dwyer Gerrity
Alzheimer’s is the fifth leading cause of death in Americans 65 and older. Although this disease devastates far too many families each year, Alzheimer’s is not inevitable. Even if Alzheimer’s runs in your family, some experts believe you may prevent or at least delay the onset of dementia. You may increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain well into your old age if you add these five tips to your everyday life.
Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain
Researchers have found that the right diet may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s or lower your risk by as much as 40 percent. Be sure to eat foods high in antioxidants because they protect all of your cells, including brain cells. Foods with the highest amount of antioxidants include the following:
Just as the right diet can help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, or cancer, health experts are finding that certain foods may help keep your mind sharp. Top mind-boosting foods include salmon, spinach, and extra virgin olive oil. These foods play a positive role in overall mind health so make them a part of your daily regime.
Eating healthy is not the only way you can prevent or delay Alzheimer’s. Regular exercise keeps the mind active while increasing blood flow to the brain, protecting against dementia related diseases. Exercising regularly may not be as easy as it sounds, but even deciding to skip riding the elevator and instead use the stairs will help. The key is to motivate yourself. Motivation is as important to mental tasks as it is to any other.
"Resistance training may increase the levels of growth factors in the brain such as IGF1, which nourish and protect nerve cells," says Teresa Liu-Ambrose, head of the university's Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory.
…brain games, that is. Partake in fun, daily brain exercises to keep your mind active. Regular use of the brain has been shown to generate new growth of neuronal pathways , and maybe even halt the decline of mental function that often comes with age. Numerous websites offer fast, fun brain games that will train your brain and boost its’ daily activity. Check out these websites for some effective, enjoyable games to feed your brain and develop creativity:
REAL SIMPLE BRAIN GAMES
FREE BRAIN GAMES TRAINING
Change Your Environment
To keep your brain properly stimulated, it is important to keep changing your environment. Walk more places instead of driving, and use a different route. Explore your community: eat at restaurants you always passed by but never decided to go. Changing the environment helps change the brain.
Create new habits to give you the most brainpower. By creating a new daily routine or changing your eating habits, your brain is forced to stay active and is constantly energized with new information. Learn new things, such as a language. It introduces your mind to new concepts and new ways of looking at things. Learning spurs the growth of new brain cells. It can also be done with little time investment such as listening to a book-on-tape while driving. Learning is yet another way to exercise your brain.
"When you challenge the brain, you increase the number of brain cells and the number of connections between those cells," says Keith L. Black, M.D., chair of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. "But it's not enough to do the things you routinely do — like the daily crossword. You have to learn new things, like Sudoku or a new form of bridge."
Make sure to always stop and take a breath: more air in means more oxygen in the blood and therefore in the brain. Several deep breaths can also help to relax you, which helps you think clearly. Do not let stress pile up and get in your way of enjoying those deep breaths. Take two minutes out of your busy day to close your eyes, pay attention to only your breath and say “omm.” Meditation, even if for only a minute, helps fight against cortisol, which is the chronic stress that floods your brain and impairs your memory.
Most importantly: do something you enjoy. This is a way to both lower stress and rev up your brain. Take the time out of your busy schedule to enjoy the life you have now. The tragedy of Alzheimer’s has hit too close to home for many Americans. Don’t let this tragic disease sneak up on you. Prevent or at least delay the dementia related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, with easy, attainable and fun at home goals and habits. Feed your brain a healthy, active diet.