6 Tricks for Better Brain Health
When it comes to our bodies, most of us are actively working on our health. We try to eat right, go to the gym and maintain our self-care routines. When it comes to the health of our brains, though, we tend to take a back seat. Many of us assume that improving personal cognitive skills are beyond our control, but you can have a larger impact on your brain health than you may think. Studies have shown that doing certain activities and focusing on specific foods can lead to a healthier brain now, while also reducing the risk of age-related neurological diseases later on in life.
Here are our top six tips for a better brain:
Brain Games: Challenging your brain daily with games and puzzles can improve both executive functioning skills and processing speed. Try Sudoku, crossword puzzles or downloading a brain game app such as Lumosity, CogniFit or Brain Fitness Pro.
Physical Activity: Physical activity is one of the most researched factors on brain health and the verdict is positive. Exercise can help you learn new things, recall facts and prevent stress. Pick an activity that works for your lifestyle and get moving daily to stay sharp.
Reduce Stress: Most of us are familiar with the stress-induced “brain freeze” moments. Avoid these moments and improve your mental clarity by managing your stress levels. Try activities such as yoga, mindful meditation, journaling and even coloring to find your personal zen.
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is important for a healthy nervous system and helps to strengthen the connection between your body’s nerves and the brain. This connection is important for your reflexes, such as the reflex to draw your hand away from something hot. You can get vitamin B12 from animal products such as milk, eggs, cheese, meat and poultry as well as from fortified cereals.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are the healthy fats found in fish, fish oil, nuts and seeds. Eating one or more servings of fish per week has been associated with a healthier brain as people age and a lowered risk of disease.
Follow the MIND Diet: The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is a dietary pattern specifically targeted for brain health. Scientific studies have shown that following this diet is associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The MIND diet is high in berries, green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains and fish and is low in red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, pastries, sweets and fried foods.
Written by: Catherine Ward, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern