Brain Health: 5 ways to improve brain health

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When it comes to keeping healthy and fit, living a mentally active life is as important as regular physical exercise. Although it has been overlooked, keeping your brain healthy and young is just as vital as keeping your heart healthy.

There are many ways to ensure that you can enhance your brain health and you can do this with various activities however, the activities with the most impact are those that require you to work beyond what is easy and comfortable. Playing cards and watching a documentary on Netflix more than likely will not be enough. If it’s too easy, it’s not helping you.


Here are 10 ways you can maintain your brain health

1. Keep learning

A higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in old age. Experts think that advanced education may help keep memory strong by getting a person into the habit of being mentally active. Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them. Many people have jobs that keep them mentally active, but pursuing a hobby, learning a new skill, or volunteering for a project at work that involves a skill you don't usually use can function the same way and help improve memory.


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2. Use all your senses

The more senses you use in learning something, the more of your brain that will be involved in retaining the memory. In one study, adults were shown a series of emotionally neutral images, each presented along with a smell. They were not asked to remember what they saw. Later, they were shown a set of images, this time without odors, and asked to indicate which they'd seen before. They had excellent recall for all odor-paired pictures, and especially for those associated with pleasant smells. Brain imaging indicated that the piriform cortex, the main odor-processing region of the brain, became active when people saw objects originally paired with odors, even though the smells were no longer present and the subjects hadn't tried to remember them. So, challenge all your senses as you venture into the unfamiliar.

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2. Get physical exercise

Research shows that using your muscles also helps your mind. Exercise also spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells (synapses). This results in brains that are more efficient, plastic, and adaptive, which translates into better performance in aging animals. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, helps blood sugar balance and reduces mental stress, all of which can help your brain as well as your heart.


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3. Socialize

People with strong social ties to friends, family, and their community have been shown to be happier and live longer than people without those ties. Furthermore, people who are lacking social connections are at a higher risk for developing depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline over time.

If you feel like you may already struggle with depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition, make it a priority to seek help. Some studies have found links between mental health and brain health, so it’s important to make your mental health a priority too.

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4. Feed your brain

The brain requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, help build and repair brain cells, and antioxidants reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease.

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You can find out more about the best foods for your brain by clicking here

5. Get Quality Sleep

The brain does not shut off when we are asleep. There is a lot of work going on while you sleep and much of it involves consolidating the learning that took place during the day. Psychologists have long understood that our dreams, for example, are really just a reflection of all the work our brains are doing trying to make sense of all the information we have been taking in but have not yet fully interpreted and made sense of. So, if this is true, you really can solve problems and make of sense of things by “sleeping on it.” On the other hand, if you do not sleep properly, you can lose the benefit of your learning experiences. You also will not learn as well the following day. Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to benefit fully and perform at their cognitive peak each day. However, this method of keeping your mind sharp only makes number seven because there are now some scientific doubts about the importance of what is known as “sleep consolidation”.

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Monica O’Neill

Marketing Manager

monica.oneill@kareplan.ie

01 8511411