The idea of losing our mind is often scarier than death itself.
So, what can we do to try and make sure dementia doesn’t come for us?
It is believed that taking preventative steps rather than reactionary ones is key in the fight, with relatively simple lifestyle changes having the power to boost our brain health.
And with your brain’s overall wellbeing estimated to be 30% based on genetics and 70% how you live your life, it’s clear to see you might just have had the ruby slippers all along.
Dr Krystal L Culler, who dedicates her life to brain wellness and memory care, revealed her lucky number 13 tips to get you started in a recent article for Bustle magazine.
We’ve laid them all out below to help you on the yellow brick road to brain health, which can not only help stave off illness but also give mental clarity for your day-to-day life.
1 Give your brain a break
While the old saying, ‘if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it’ applies to many things in life, it doesn’t apply to brain health. If you want a healthier brain, you must be willing to turn off the electronics and all the chaos and noise, and you must relish in the peace and quiet. Your brain needs time to do nothing and if you want to keep it sharp, then you’ll need downtime.
Your body was made to move! Working out has a significant impact on brain health and can help reduce inflammation in the body. Conditions like dementia can be related to inflammation, so by removing this build-up in your system, you have a healthier brain.
Meditation can improve both your concentration levels and overall memory. While it’s great for anxiety and depression, it also has been proven to increase grey matter. This grey matter is essential to your learning and emotional processing. Meditation should be part of your daily routine, with either small sessions of five minutes or longer cycles of 20 minutes.
4 Do brain games and trivia
Crossword puzzles and games like sudoku keep your brain sharp when you engage. Whether you play online or in an old-school word search book, you’re increasing your brain health.
While it’s fun to hang out and fly solo occasionally, socialising is good for your brain. Did you know that having strong social ties can give you a decreased risk for dementia? Staying connected may be just what you need to keep your mind intact.
6 Expand your horizons by learning something new
Remember the excitement when you graduated from school, college, and beyond? There’s a sense of accomplishment, but you never quit learning. In fact, you must keep learning new things as it helps your brain to age well. Taking on new hobbies, learning new skills, or tackling a new language can help keep your heart and brain young.
7 Drink more water
The brain is made up of 85% water and the body is over 70% – so, hydrating is vital. Many people are dehydrated because they don’t drink enough water. Your food is the fuel for your body, but water is what keeps your brain going. It gives your mind energy, and it prevents brain fog. When it comes to brain health, don’t forget to chug water all day long.
8 Get sufficient rest
You need between six and eight hours of rest each night. Your body is recharging from a hectic day during your hours of sleep and processing the stressors and information received. During the night, your brain is busy filing away data into your short and long-term memory banks. If you don’t get the sleep you need, your brain can’t do what it must do to keep your neurological system in check and can mess with your overall mental wellbeing.
9 Consume healthy fats, avoid trans and saturated ones
When it comes to mood stability and brain function, you need Omega-3 fatty acids to achieve optimal performance. To get these, load up on chia seeds, walnuts, and avocados. Also, be sure to add some fatty fish into your diet too.
10 Eat gut-healthy foods
What you eat can significantly impact your brain. A diet of carbohydrates and fatty foods will cause major issues, while a plant-based diet can help to heal the body from the toxins you ingest from things like fast food. Dr Perlmutter writes in his book, Grain Brain, how carbs cause inflammation in the body and poor brain health. It’s been proven that there’s a direct connection between the gut and brain, so it’s imperative to watch what you eat.
11 Keep on the sunny side
It sounds odd that being positive and happy could affect you so profoundly, but it can. When you have pleasant thoughts, then your mind is peaceful and can rest. However, when you’re a ball of nerves and highly strung, your brain cannot get the rejuvenation it needs. Blood flow increases with stress, as does stress hormones like cortisol. However, when you’re calm, your body eases the blood flow, which ultimately affects your mood.
12 Practice gratitude
Do you take time to count your blessings every day, or do you grumble about all the things that are so wrong in your life? Having an attitude of gratitude is good for the brain. When you change your mindset from pessimistic to optimistic, your entire world will do a 180°. When you keep that positive mindset, you improve your immune system and help give you a healthier brain.
Something as simple as reading can make your brain healthy. What exercise does for your physical body, reading does for your brain. You’re working out your mind when you read materials that will increase your cognitive function and enhance blood flow to vital areas.
Just off to read on the exercise bike while listening to a mediation app!