Protect Your Aging Brain
With more than 5 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and as many as 16 million expected to suffer with it by 2050, caring for your brain is something you cannot afford to ignore.
Aging and genes may not have the final word about the fate of your brain because of its lifelong neuroplasticity (aka brain flexibility) than enables you to positively influence its health on an ongoing basis.
The actions, attitudes, and thoughts you have today, as well as the daily choices you make, all play a meaningful role in your brain’s health.
Sleep is critically important to the health and longevity potential of all humans. On average, humans spend about 25 to 35 percent of their lives sleeping. Sleep allows both the body and brain to rest and recover from the stress of daily life. Trouble sleeping can cause a range of health problems, and, if left untreated, dire consequences.
Even if sleep duration is good, sleep quality can be quite poor. This is an area of your life that deserves time and attention. If you are not sleeping well, there are many helpful YouTube videos, meditations, and websites loaded with tips. Supplements such as L-theanine, GABA, melatonin, valerian, ashwagandha, and magnolia individually or in a combined product are helpful for many.
Train your brain
Artistic endeavors such as coloring, drawing, or painting make use of your subconscious by allowing your creativity to surface and making space for the expression of your true feelings. Because the goal is to tap into your unconscious mind, you don’t need to be a great artist, just open to the creative process. This is also very helpful for those who feel stuck in their lives. It opens up new thought processes and ideas.
A few of the beneficial activities you can do—at any age—to keep your mind active include:
- Learn something new, such as a second language or musical instrument
- Play board games, cards, or online games (choosing games that foster social connection will further boost your brain health)
- Read and write on a regular basis
- Solve crossword, numeric, or other kinds of puzzles; assemble physical puzzles
- Take a class online or at your local library or community college
- If you frequently watch TV and think of it as a form of mental stimulation, you need to know that prolonged television viewing is actually associated with mental decline.
If you exercise regularly, you not only will have a healthier body, but a better brain, too. Regardless of your age, exercise can provide enormous benefits for your body and your mind. If you’re over forty, it’s especially important to step up your exercise program, because your physical strength, stamina, balance, and flexibility are beginning to decline due to age. Fortunately, doing the right type of exercise can help you counteract these declines.
Write down your thoughts and clear the clutter from your brain. This would actually be a great exercise to promote better sleep as well. Don’t worry about editing yourself, just let go of the negativity or what ever seems to bog you down. When left unchecked, lingering negative feelings and the emotional stress accompanying them can wreak havoc on your brain health. This is a great way to get the negative out.
In my opinion, this is the most important area. Sugar is probably the most dangerous food when it comes to brain health, and the artificial sweeteners and chemicals that replace it are just as bad if not worse. Losing the sweet tooth is one of the most important ways to protect your brain.
Healthy fats such as coconut oil, flax seed, avocado, olive oil, nut, seed, and fish oils have a very protective effect on the brain. Recent research has shown that two tablespoons of coconut oil daily has even improved cognitive function in those already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Try and get your diet to be at least 75 to 80 percent plant based. Living foods promote life, quiet inflammation, and can even reverse chronic illness. It is no lie that healthy food is the best medicine.
Don’t forget the vitamin B-12 (methycobalamin). It is one of the most overlooked deficiencies when it come to memory, energy, and cognitive function.
You can help your brain by eliminating toxins that have been shown to negatively affect it (and the rest of your body) including aluminum, mercury, and electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and wi-fi (avoid them in the bedroom if possible).
Optimistic people have better brain function and protection from illness. If you find you are a negative person in general, find a meditation (YouTube is a great resource) to help guide you to changing how you think and perceive life.
Given the fact your brain impacts all aspects of your life—from happiness and health, to relationships and rest—it’s important that you understand how to take care of it.
Catherine Stack (RN, ND) is a practicing Doctor of Naturopathy, Certified Nurse Midwife, and the founder and CEO of Journey II Health Center for Rejuvenation. Her book, Free Yourself from a CONSTIPATED Life, is available on Amazon. Visit her website at journeyiihealth.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.