Brain Health


There is nothing more frightening than the fear of losing one's mind.  Once that goes, nothing else really matters much.  No amount of money or even physical well being can possibly make up for the loss of cognitive ability.

Stimulate  Your  Brain

Build new neural pathways in your brain to keep your most important organ revitalized as you age : -

  • Challenge your mind. Increase your brain’s vitality by learning new things.
  • Got time to learn a new language? That’s one of the best ways to build new brain connections.
  • Doing jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, and playing word games like Scrabble are also great ways to increase your brain’s vitality.


There is some evidence that challenges like playing a musical instrument or learning another language have more benefits than repeatedly doing jigsaw or crossword puzzles as it activates different parts of the brain.


Research confirm a critical relationship between learning and brain growth.   Learning plays a critical role in forming memories and can even help preserve your brain later in life.

Many of the top universities in the world are now offering completely free classes on the Internet. You can learn from professors at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and even overseas universities like the University of Edinburgh.

Check for classes on websites like Coursera.org, edX.org, and Canvas Network (Canvas.net).  Learn more about topics that interest you to keep your mind young and healthy.


Nurture  Your  Brain


Neuroscientists have discovered that we can help our brains stay focused and actually improve creativity by listening to music that we enjoy.

In fact, listening to or playing music can help keep the brain healthy, including increasing mental sharpness and enhanced memory.

Listening to soft, relaxing music before turning in for the night can promote better sleep patterns.   It has been shown that when we listen to music we enjoy, it tends to have a positive effect on our brains, our psyches, our moods, and our quality of life.


Build  A  Social  Network


Evidence from observational studies linking reduced risk of dementia with social connectedness dates to the 1990s. As researchers have looked into these connections more deeply, they have discovered that variety and satisfaction in social contacts is more important than the size of a person's social network.


Mediate


The benefits include everything from boosts of happiness to lower blood pressure and increased longevity.

Even better, regular meditation helps preserve your brain cells. That's because meditation helps preserve connections in your prefrontal cortex. This is the area of the brain responsible for higher-level organizing, planning, and memory.

Nourish  Your  Brain

Get  MOVING When you break a sweat, it pumps blood to your brain.  That initiates the growth of new brain cells.

Studies show that just 30 minutes a day reduces brain cell loss, not to mention the added bonuses of reduced risk of stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and more.

If you can, exercise outdoors as connecting with nature calms the mind in a way only Mother Nature can do.

Researchers took a group of subjects 55 or older who were not regularly exercising at the time. The control group stretched and toned, while the experimental group walked 40 minutes a day for 3 days a week. 

By the end of the experiment, the walking group averaged about 15 minutes a miles, which is 4 miles per hour.  A nice brisk pace.

The main findings were observed in the hippocampus, which is important for memory formation and recall.

The control group which stretched and toned had a 1.4% decrease in hippocampus size.  But the 3 days a week walking group saw an increase of their hippocampus size by 2%.


The University of British Columbia ran a study a few years ago showing that aerobic exercise helps your hippocampus grow. The hippocampus is the area of the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning.

Try some yoga if aerobics is too strenuous.   Scientists from Frontiers in Human Neuroscience showed that people who practiced yoga saw significant increases in gray matter.  In fact, the more hours a week someone did yoga, the greater the amount of gray matter.

Mastering more complicated physical activities, like dance or sports, has greater benefits than repeating simpler ones, like walking. What the studies haven't determined is whether the benefits of exercise disappear when people become sedentary.


Eat  Healthy

More than a dozen observational studies have shown that the Mediterranean Diet - high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes; moderate in olive oil and unsaturated fats, cheese and yogurt, and wine; and low in red meat is associated with a reduced risk of dementia.

Gray matter in your brain is where the clusters of nerve cells live. It's responsible for much of our brain's functions, including muscle control, memory, vision, hearing, emotions, and decision-making. White matter involves the long nerves that fire messages to other brain cells. The men who followed the Mediterranean diet had significantly higher amounts of both gray and white matter.

Although the few randomized controlled trials have been too short to yield meaningful results, the diet's proven heart-healthy effects alone make it worth following.

Sleep  Well

Researchers are piecing together how the brain processes and stores memories. The theory is that sleep helps us "fix" memories in place. Getting enough REM and slow-wave sleep helps us keep our minds sharp.

Sleep clears out debris from the brain. In fact, researchers at University of California Berkeley think that sleeping well helps us clear out Alzheimer's-causing plaques from our brains. Not sleeping enough leads to plaque buildup.