You probably heard about the importance of being physically active to keep our muscles and bones strong. However, it is just as important to exercise our minds to help improve our brain health. Here are five things you can do to keep your brain sharp & healthy:
1. Never Stop Learning
As we get older, it’s important to stimulate the brain through activities that encourage critical thinking, which is why learning plays a big role in maintaining brain health. Some activities that can sharpen the brain:
• Attending a workshop or class that discusses a topic that you don’t know much about.
• Solving crossword puzzles & playing trivia games.
• Listening to different types of music, not just songs from one genre. Alternate between country, rhythm & blues, jazz, classical, pop, rock music, etc.
• Reading newspapers, books, magazines (hard copy or online). Not only does it keep us up-to-date with current events. It’s also an excellent way to expand our vocabulary.
2. Engage in Physical Exercise
Many of us (including me) experience brain fog as we get older. Keeping yourself physically active at least 30 minutes a day helps your brain stay sharp. Not only does it increase oxygen to your brain, it reduces the risk for health conditions that lead to memory loss.
Exercise also improves your mood and reduces anxiety. Unfortunately, mental and emotional problems tend to contribute to cognitive impairment which is why “moving your body” every day is beneficial for our brain health.
3. Get Enough Sleep
95% of adults need between 7 1/2 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep deprivation negatively impacts our brain health and compromises our memory, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. That should be motivation to get enough Z’s.
Try to follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning. Don’t break the routine. Follow the same schedule on weekends and holidays.
4. Get Your Omega 3’s
Our body needs proper nutrition to function properly, and so does our brain. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for brain health.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times or two servings a week. Cold water fish (fatty fish) is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. This includes: salmon, albacore tuna, halibut, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring.
Some non-fish sources of omega-3s include seaweed, walnuts, butternuts, ground flaxseed, chia seed, hemp seed, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, hemp seed oil, winter squash, kidney beans, pinto beans, soybeans, spinach, and broccoli.
5. Address Existing Health Issues
Are you constantly experiencing a lack of focus and concentration, poor memory, forgetfulness, mental confusion and reduced mental clarity? If so, there may be a health problem to blame. Below are some health problems that you will need to address as they do relate to brain health:
Cardiovascular disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure, have been linked to mild cognitive impairment.
Studies show that people who have diabetes experience far greater cognitive decline than those who don’t suffer from the disease.
For women, brain fog and memory problems are common symptoms of menopause. For men, low testosterone may also affect mood and concentration.
You are probably aware that Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia can cause memory loss. However, both hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) can also cause cognitive problems that may mimic symptoms of mild dementia.
Naturopathic Medicine is an approach to health care that treats the whole person through the use of natural therapies. Our Naturopathic Doctor (ND) can work alongside a patient’s Medical Doctor to recommend a variety of naturopathic therapies which can help treat these health issues.
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