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Generic Brain Health

Top 10 tips to keep a healthy brain

It’s never too early or late to start taking action towards achieving better brain health, and the great thing is it can also be quite enjoyable too¹.
February 21, 2019

One of the remarkable things about the brain is that it’s possible to take steps to ensure it’s healthy, much like you would your physical health¹. It’s never too early or late to start taking action towards achieving better brain health, and the great thing is it can also be quite enjoyable too¹.

What does it mean to keep a healthy brain?

There is a growing body of research that shows that you can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline by making lifestyle changes². By keeping your brain engaged and looking after your body you can help slow down the ageing process². Maintaining your wellbeing as you age can also contribute to ageing better³. A healthy brain not only helps to keep you mentally sharp, but it could also help to minimise the risk of dementia¹.

 

10 tips to improve brain health

Learn to embrace good brain habits and farewell some of the worst habits for your brain

1. Stay active⁴ 

Try to exercise daily and embrace incidental exercise such as taking the stairs instead of the lift or parking further away to encourage you to walk more.

2. Maintain a healthy diet⁵ ⁶

Try to maintain a balanced diet that is low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables. Research has shown that a diet such as the Mediterranean diet may contribute to reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

3. Challenge your brain⁷

Aim to ‘exercise’ your brain daily by embracing activities such as learning a new language, sport or skill or swapping watching TV for playing mind games or reading a book.

4. Manage stress levels⁸

There is evidence that stress actually damages the brain, so take the necessary steps to reduce your stress levels such as meditating or exercising.

5. Stay socially active⁹

Maintain your social connections by staying in touch with friends or getting involved in the community by volunteering or joining a club or group.

6. Embrace brain safety measures²

Injuries to the brain can increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. It’s important to stay safe by wearing your seatbelt, using a helmet when you’re riding a bike or playing contact sports and also taking steps to prevent falls.

7. Prioritise sleep³

Sleep helps the brain repair itself and also boosts the immune system so make sure to get a good night’s sleep¹⁰.

8. Say no to smoking²

Smoking is said to increase the risk of cognitive decline - another great reason to give up the habit.

9. Drink alcohol in moderation¹¹

Heavy drinking can affect brain health so try to have a few drink-free days a week.

10. Look after your heart² 

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure and diabetes can negatively impact your cognitive health so make sure to have regular health checks to monitor your heart health¹² ¹³ .

How can we achieve better brain health?

It’s important to prioritise looking after your brain health as part of your regular routine. 

Identify reasons to keep you motivated, such as being able to stay physically and mentally fit to maintain your lifestyle as you age. 

Look for ways you can easily incorporate different changes to your routine. Start simply by making small tweaks to your lifestyle such as committing to daily activities such as going for a walk or aiming to eat more fruits and vegetables throughout the day. 

To help keep you accountable and to guide you on your journey, consider downloading the Five Lives app to your phone that can help you to stay motivated but also provide various activities to help you with improving your brain health.

To go a bit further, listen to Pr. Livingston and learn more about ways to prevent dementia.

References:
  1. Simple tips for better brain health. Alzheimer’s Research UK. Accessed September 3, 2022
  2. 10 ways to love your brain. Alzheimer’s Association. Accessed September 3, 2022.
  3. Rudnicka E et al. (2020). The World Health Organization (WHO) approach to healthy ageing. Maturitas. 139:6-11
  4. A practical guide to healthy ageing. NHS. Accessed September 9, 2022.
  5. Gómez-Pinilla F. (2008). Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 9(7):568-578.
  6. Lourida I et al. (2013). Mediterranean diet, cognitive function, and dementia: A systematic review. Epidemiology. 24(4):479-489
  7. Verghese J et al. (2003). Leisure activities and the risk of dementia in the elderly. N Engl J Med. 348(25):2508-2516
  8. Lupien S et al. (2009). Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition. Nat Rev Neurosci. 10:434–445
  9. Kawashima AT et al. (2013). Social interaction and dementia prevention: Six-year follow-up study. Journal of Public Health Frontier. 2(2):109-113
  10. Jessen NA, Munk ASF, Lundgaard I, Nedergaard M. (2015). The glymphatic system: A beginner’s guide. Neurochemical Research. 40(12):2583-2599
  11. Drinking responsibly. Alzheimer’s Research UK. Accessed September 3, 2022.
  12. Sharp SI, Aarsland D, Day S, Sonnesyn H. (2011). Hypertension is a potential risk factor for vascular dementia: Systematic review. Geriatric Psychiatry. 26(7):661-669
  13. Cheng G, Huang C, Deng H, Wang H. (2012). Diabetes as a risk factor for dementia and mild cognitive impairment: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Intern Med J. 42(5):484-491

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