Science has made significant breakthroughs in understanding how to keep the brain healthy.
Old age does not mean that our brain function will fade; if we look after it our brain can stay sharp as a tack. Follow Dr Adam Fraser’s top five tips to a healthy brain.
1. Treat your brain like your heart
Heart disease occurs when the arteries that supply the heart with blood are occluded. This means the heart does not get enough nutrients. The same thing can happen to our brain. If the arteries bringing blood to the brain aren’t clear and healthy our brain misses out on essential nutrients, compromising its health and function. Regularly have your cholesterol levels checked, reduce your saturated fat intake and increase unsaturated fats.
2. Bond with others
Socialising requires our brain to be highly engaged. In social settings we are reading facial expressions and body language, understanding social context and practising empathy for others. In addition, connecting with other people results in positive emotion, which in turn floods the brain with chemicals that keep the brain healthy.
3. Move your Body
Exercise not only helps to keep our arteries healthy but also directly affects the brain tissue. As we age our brain can actually shrink, yet we don’t see this in people who regularly exercise. Why? Exercise increases the number of connections in the brain, increasing its capacity to store information. Also, exercise triggers the release of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is like Miracle Grow for the brain. It keeps the neurons healthy and stops them dying.
4. Get Fishy
Regular intake of Omega-3 fish oils (through eating fish or taking a supplement) can reduce our chance of Alzheimer’s by 60 per cent. Other studies have shown that just one meal of fish per week can slow cognitive decline by 10 per cent.
5. Challenge it
Finally, to keep the brain healthy you need to exercise it like a muscle. Anything that requires it to perform challenging tasks such as learning a language, crosswords or Sudoku, studying or learning a musical instrument all keep the brain in top shape.
Dr Adam Fraser is a performance expert and author of The Third Space. dradamfraser.com
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