Dr. Robert Friedland, a neurologist at the University of Louisville, said improving cognitive health is about respecting “your body’s best interests”
A neurologist has revealed the six things he does every day to keep his mind sharp.
As cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease rise in the United States, Dr. Robert Friedland said strengthening your brain is more important than ever.
The neurologist – from the University of Louisville – told DailyMail.com, “Respect the importance of your body.”
“Instead of turning on the TV or opening the newspaper, starting the day with meditation can give mental health a boost.”
Dr. Friedland — who is also the author of Unaging: The Four Factors That Affect How You Age — said there’s growing evidence that taking care of your oral hygiene is just as important when it comes to warding off cognitive decline.
Here’s what Dr. Friedland does every day to keep his mind in top shape:
When it comes to eating for brain health, plant fiber is key, Dr. Friedland said.
This is because fiber, which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates 95 percent of Americans don’t get enough of, has been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain.
Inflammation, he said, is a direct cause of cognitive decline and conditions such as dementia.
Dr. Friedland suggests opting for plant-based, high-fiber foods, such as spinach, okra, carrots, avocado, oats, and broccoli
Several plant-based foods are packed with fiber, including avocado, oats, broccoli, artichoke and lentils.
In addition to avoiding processed foods, Dr. Friedland suggests avoiding beef, pork, and chicken.
“Chicken has no fiber, so when you eat chicken, you’re eating something that has no value to your microbiota or your gut bacteria,” he said.
“It would be better if the space on your plate could be filled with something that’s really good for you.”
Instead of chicken, he suggests swapping it for veggies like spinach, okra, or carrots.
If you still want meat, choose oily fish, such as salmon.
Keep your friends in mind
To keep his brain sharp, Dr. Friedland makes time for social activities such as walking, playing tennis, and walking with friends.
“It’s good for the brain to be involved in social and meaningful activities,” he said.
Studies after studies have shown that social isolation and loneliness are among the biggest risk factors for poor cognition in older adults.
Depression from loneliness could be a precursor to this decline.
Socializing can boost attention and memory and help strengthen neural networks. You may just smile and talk, but your brain is hard at work. This increase in mental activity pays off over time.
In addition, a Study from 2021 suggested that social support improved cognitive resilience, or the ability to overcome adversity and stress.
If you’re planning plans with friends, take them outside. It can improve your brain health.
Dr. Friedland links the benefits to how our ancestors evolved hundreds of thousands of years ago. ‘They lived in a natural environment. Our genes are selected because they help us live in that environment,” he said.
a Study from 2015suggests, for example, that this ancestral link naturally allows us to connect with nature.
“That exposure to the natural world also helps keep your mind safe.”
A study published in the journal Current directions in psychological science found that spending time in more natural environments improved memory, cognitive flexibility and attention, while urban environments were linked to a lower attention span.
Don’t forget to floss
While brushing and flossing are essential for gum health, research shows that it can also prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Clearly, brushing and flossing helps prevent cavities and prevent gum disease, but it can also improve cognitive function.
A 2021 study published in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine suggested that regular flossing could prevent dementia. The researchers said that each missing tooth in a participant increased their risk of developing a cognitive disorder.
Researchers in Japan also found that tooth loss and gum disease were linked to shrinking in the hippocampusthe part of the brain responsible for memory and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Oral health is important for the brain,” said Dr. Friedland. “There’s a lot of bacteria in the mouth, and you can’t possibly get rid of them all, but you can help fight them by brushing and flossing every day.”
Get eight hours of sleep
Dr. Friedland recommends getting eight hours of sleep each night to keep your brain sharp.
“Sleep is a critical part of brain health,” he said.
This is because sleep helps the brain form memories and process new information.
When you are sleep-deprived, the protein beta-amyloid builds up in the neurons.
Recent research suggests that when they accumulate, they impair brain function and may cause Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.
A small 2018 study from the NIH suggested that the loss of just one night of sleep led to an increase in these proteins.
Sleep also increases brain plasticity, which is its ability to adapt to new experiences and situations. Greater plasticity may lead to better cognitive function with age.
Make time for meditation
“I meditate every day and I find that very important to keep my peace of mind,” said Dr. Friedland.
“Meditation is an opportunity every day to give your mind some rest.”
He practices mindfulness meditation – bringing your attention to the present moment – for 30 minutes a day. While Dr. Friedland prefers the morning, he is open to it when he has time.
A systematic review found that meditation is a viable practice for older adults and could offset age-related cognitive decline.
“I think it’s clear that time spent in meditation is more valuable than reading the newspaper or watching television,” said Dr. Friedland.