Every brain changes with age, and mental function changes along with it. Mental decline is common, and it’s one of the most feared consequences of aging.
But cognitive impairment is not inevitable.
Here are several ways you can help maintain brain function:
Get physical exercise
Research shows that using your muscles also helps your mind.
Animals who exercise regularly increase the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought.
Exercise also spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells (synapses).
This results in brains that are more efficient, plastic, and adaptive, which translates into better performance in aging animals.
Exercise also lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, helps blood sugar balance and reduces mental stress, all of which can help your brain as well as your heart.
Improve your diet
Good nutrition can help your mind as well as your body.
For example, people that eat a Mediterranean style diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, unsaturated oils (olive oil) and plant sources of proteins are less likely to develop cognitive impairment and dementia.
Improve your blood pressure
High blood pressure in midlife increases the risk of cognitive decline in old age. Use lifestyle modification to keep your pressure as low as possible.
Stay lean, exercise regularly, limit your alcohol to two drinks a day, reduce stress, and eat right.
Improve your cholesterol
High levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol are associated with an increased the risk of dementia.
Diet, exercise, weight control, and avoiding tobacco will go a long way toward improving your cholesterol levels.
But if you need more help, ask your doctor about medication.
Now we have gone through a few things to help maintain brain function lets take a look at foods that build brain health.
Simple Foods That Build Brain Health
Eating fish like tuna and salmon once a week has been shown to slow decline in those with the Alzheimer’s gene, thanks to the high content of omega-3 DHA fatty acid, which reduces oxidative stress and slows plaque buildup.
Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet have been associated with increased risk of depression and cognitive decline.
Your mom got it right when she told you to eat your broccoli. It’s one of the best brain foods out there.
Thanks to its high levels of vitamin K and choline, it will help keep your memory sharp.
It’s also loaded with vitamin C — in fact, just one cup provides you with 150 percent of your recommended daily intake. Its high-fiber levels mean that you’ll feel full quickly, too.
These are natural brain boosters, containing B vitamins and phytochemicals as well as a good supply of glucose, the brain’s top fuel source.
The brain can’t store glucose, so it relies on a steady supply of it from the body, which beans can provide.
It might be their funny shape or memories of bad recipes eaten during childhood, but beets seem to be an intimidating food for many people, even vegetable lovers.
That’s a shame, because these root vegetables are some of the most nutritious plants you can eat.
They reduce inflammation, are high in cancer-protecting antioxidants and help rid your blood of toxins.
The natural nitrates in beets actually boost blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance. Plus, during tough workouts, beets actually help boost energy and performance levels.
This antioxidant-rich beverage appears to be one of the best ways to keep the brain hydrated thanks to the compounds called catechins.
Not only do catechins appear to be some of the most effective antioxidants in preventing free radical damage, but some research suggests they can help block amyloid plaque formation.
Egg yolks are finally experiencing their well-deserved day in the sun.
If you’ve been eating only egg whites, the yolk’s on you. Yolks contain large amounts of choline, which helps in fetal brain development for pregnant women.
It also breaks down bethane, a chemical that produces hormones related to happiness.
If you’ve kept away from eating eggs whole because of cholesterol concerns, there’s good news.
Studies show that eating eggs had no effect on the cholesterol levels of healthy adults and might, in fact, help raise good cholesterol levels.
It’s also one of the most inexpensive sources of protein out there; just be sure you’re buying organic, free-range eggs.
Just munching on a few walnuts a day can improve your cognitive health.
Their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals also improve mental alertness. The vitamin E in the nuts can also help ward off Alzheimer’s.