The mind is certainly a powerful tool. The brain controls pretty much everything we do, from sleeping, to moving and of course thinking. With that being said, it is therefore one of the most powerful organs in our bodies. So, we must work and do everything in our power to take care of it. Unfortunately, as humans age, this vital organ begins to shrink and so, illnesses such as dementia and strokes become more and more of a real possibility. Luckily, there are many ways to strengthen the brain to reduce the likelihood of illnesses and to improve mental health overall.
- Learn, learn, and learn some more
Being mentally active is suggested by experts to be key in ensuring stronger mental functioning in old age. So, having a higher level of education can be greatly influential in strengthening the mind. Learning, however, does not necessarily have to be formal and can be achieved by simply learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby. Each time we learn something new, our bodies embark on a process known as neuroplasticity, whereby new brain cells are formed, sharpening the brain further. So, it turns out the saying ‘you cannot teach an old dog new tricks’ is actually false. Our minds, being such wonderful creations, are able to grow and expand even in old age.
- Be physically active
Another way to slow and prevent cognitive decline is by exercising and staying physically active and fit. There are many benefits of exercise for the brain, some of which include:
- Improving your mood. Exercising releases chemicals known as endorphins that trigger positive feelings in the body, uplifting your mood. It also produces further brain-boosting chemicals including norepinephrine (makes you become more alert, focussed and boosts memory retrieval) and serotonin (mood-boosting chemical).
- It helps build confidence and improves your self-esteem.
- Exercising can enhance your performance by boosting concentration, focus and even creativity.
- It can help relieve stress
- Reduces the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s and cancer by boosting brain cell production and thus boosting brain health.
So, make sure to incorporate regular exercise into your schedule. It does not matter whether it is low-intensity or vigorous, make you sure to include as even small amounts as every little helps.
- Seek professional help and guidance
If you are already struggling with your mental health, then consult your doctor or a specialist, as they will know what the right options for you are. Most of the tips written in this article, will focus on prevention as opposed to a cure, so if you need help because you are already experiencing mental decline, seek professional help. If say, for example, you are struggling with memory and related issues then consider reliable memory care Sugarland facilities such as the ones provided by the Auberge.
- Get enough well-structured sleep
Make sure you get enough sleep and have a good sleeping pattern. These are essential if you want to take care of your brain. Sleep deprivation can be a key influencing factor in memory loss as sleeping provides the brain with the opportunity to recharge and rest. If it is not given the sufficient time to do this, the brain’s ability to remember and learn may be negatively affected.
- Reduce alcohol intake
If you are a regular drinker, this one is for you. The occasional drink or two is unlikely to significantly impair your cognitive processes and capabilities. However, long-term exposure to alcohol can shrink the brain and increase the likelihood of developing cancer. Further, heavy drinking can speed up memory loss and so caution must be taken when drinking alcohol in high quantities, especially in the long-term. What is best for your cognitive health, is to not consume it at all. However, this may be unrealistic for many, and so, simply reducing the amount you drink is certainly a good first step. This will make your mind sharper and stronger.
- Eating a healthy diet
“You are what you eat”. While this may not be totally true, it holds some relevance. The food we consume and ingest affects our bodies and brain massively. This can be for the worse, as an unhealthy diet that consists of foods high in artificial sugar, saturated fats and sodium, will shrink the brain’s learning capabilities and inflame it. Alternatively, the food we eat can contribute for the better to aid brain activity, as nutrition affects the brain. So, eating a healthy diet can prevent stokes, boost alertness, and help memory. A healthy diet is one that is varied and has high amounts of vegetables, fruit, and brain foods, some of which include:
- Fatty acids (e.g., Omega 3) found in fish, walnuts, and salmon. Can help prevent degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
- Antioxidants (e.g., vitamins C and E) which protect the brain.
- Protein (e.g., meat, fish, and beans) aids in the balancing of blood sugar
Also, there are a number of brain-boosting foods such as:
- Water – while water is not food, it deserves an honourable mention within the list as it is essential to the proper functioning of the brain.
- Fish – especially those high in omega 3 fatty acids (i.e., mackerel, sardines, and salmon)
- Whole grain foods – less processing and not stripped of nutrients, high in fibre and vitamin E.
- Berries, including blueberries and raspberries, are high in antioxidants, reducing stress and brain inflammation.
- Unsaturated fats like those in avocados.
- Leafy greens (i.e., kale and spinach) are full of essential vitamins (e.g. B12, B6 and folate), which help reduce the likelihood of developing cognitive issues
As highlighted within this article, your brain and mind are super complex, yet powerful tools. So, invest the necessary time, money, and effort in taking care of them as this will undoubtedly positively influence you, especially in the long-term. There are many tips as to how to go about doing this, which this article touched on. Prevention is better than the cure, so start implementing some of these steps right away and make positive strides to strengthen your mind.