From the right diet to staying active, a few lifestyle changes can give your gray matter a second life
Get those omega-3s
Our brains love the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, found in oily fish like salmon and mackerel.
A study of more than 2,000 adults found that eating fish twice a week reduced the risk of dementia by 44 percent.
What makes fish — especially oily or oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines — so beneficial for blood vessel or brain health is its content of omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Omega 3 appears to support blood flow to the brain, which helps support memory and reduces the risk of cognitive decline.
For vegetarians and vegans, avocados, nuts, seeds and plant oils such as flaxseed and olive oil are rich in omega-3 fats.
Don’t stop moving
As if you needed any other reasons to exercise, exercising is essential for your gray matter.
Getting hot and sweaty increases blood flow to the brain, which is thought to encourage enzymes to break down proteins that can build up in the damaging brain plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2017 review examining the effects of exercise on people at risk found that aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking and swimming, was three times more beneficial than those who did a combination of cardio and weights.
However, older people who exercised at all showed better cognitive ability than those who did nothing.
Nootropics are a new generation of drugs thought to help boost cognitive function.
The term is used to refer to any natural or synthetic substance that can have a positive impact on mental abilities.
These can include well-known natural brain-boosting vitamins and minerals, as well as lesser-known herbs, including ginkgo biloba (reported to have neuroprotective effects and thought to help reduce amyloid plaque buildup associated with some forms of dementia) and Bacopa monnieri (a clinical trial found that taking 300 mg daily delayed word recall in the over-65s compared to placebo treatment).
Caffeine is also classified as a nootropic, and having your usual coffee or tea pick-me-up — or even chewing caffeine gum — has been shown to help increase mental alertness, especially when you’re tired.
Learn new things
Our brain likes new things and when we are not exposed to anything new cognitive decline becomes more likely.
This doesn’t have to be extremely challenging or daunting like learning a new language or enrolling in an OU course – it can be something as simple as walking across the road on your usual route to work or your teeth brush with your left hand if you’re right-handed (or vice versa) to give your brain a mini-workout.
And it’s not all obviously “intelligent” things that are beneficial.
Eat your veggies
According to a 2018 study from Rush University, just one serving of green vegetables a day for an average of 4.7 years is enough to slow cognitive decline, giving the study volunteers the brain of someone 11 years younger.
So load up on kale, spinach, broccoli which contain brain-friendly nutrients including vitamin K, lutein, nitrate, and folic acid.
Boost your gut bacteria
The understanding of the importance of our gut is growing day by day, especially the relationship between our gut microbiome and the brain, the so-called brain-gut axis.
The theory goes that the healthier your gut, teeming with trillions of bacteria, ideally a diverse mix of “friendly” bugs, the better your brain health.
Research shows that following the Mediterranean diet—primarily plant-based, filled with anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, fish, and extra-virgin olive oil—can feed the “good” bacteria in your gut.
Loneliness can take a huge toll on our mental and physical health and is extremely stressful on our brains.
“Social connectedness is important not only for our emotional health, but also for cognitive resilience,” says Professor Burianova.
‘Research has shown that loneliness more than doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.’
She advises anyone who feels lonely not to feel shy, but to reach out to others.
A hot chocolate before bed can do more than help you fall asleep.
A small Italian study in healthy volunteers between the ages of 50 and 69 found that a specially prepared cocoa drink containing high amounts of flavanols – powerful polyphenols – showed a reduction in memory loss.
Researchers think the drink increased blood flow to a specific part of the brain related to memory.
Go to bed
It is not surprising that a good night’s sleep has a huge impact on our cognitive health.
A 2017 Greek study found that lack of sleep and poor quality sleep were associated with poorer memory in men and women over age 65.
The position in which you sleep can also play a role. Researchers at New York’s Stony Brook University found that sleeping on your side may more effectively contribute to a nighttime “power cleanse” that helps remove brain waste, such as beta-amyloid proteins, involved in the development of Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. .