Your body changes with age, and that includes your brain. With today’s modern medicine, human life expectancy has significantly increased. But that makes quality of life in later years more important than ever. One of the biggest factors in longevity is minimizing brain-related problems, like memory loss, as you age.
Degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are increasingly common features of aging. They can make your life difficult as cognitive functionality and memory slowly slips out of your control.
How great would it be if there were some way to protect your brain so you can add not just years to your life, but life to your years?
Total prevention of memory degeneration is still not possible. But you can protect your brain longer and to a much greater extent through simple but effective lifestyle changes.
1. Exercise regularly
Daily exercise has time and again been linked to a healthier brain. Studies continue to provide evidence that exercise prevents memory loss in old age. Cardio-vascular exercises like walking, jogging, cycling, etc. are considered the most beneficial for your brain.
The link between maintaining a healthy memory and exercise is not crystal-clear, but researchers believe its may be due to an increased level of blood circulation. Exercise increases blood flow throughout your body, including your brain, which then increases the amount of nutrients and oxygen feeding your neural pathways. This leads to healthy neurogenesis, a process necessary in both preserving old brain cells and generating new ones.
Studies show walking daily for at least thirty minutes multiple times a week can help prevent overall brain decline with age.
2. Follow a brain-focused diet
Eating a healthy diet is always good for your overall health, but it can have a particularly profound effect on brain health. Trans-fatty food, sugar, processed food, etc. contribute to faster degeneration of brain cells. On the other hand, a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meat and fish, whole grains, etc. can boost your brain health.
Some experts recommend the Mediterranean diet as particularly beneficial for preventing brain degradation. Include more leafy greens, lentils, and fruits in your diet and switch to olive oil for daily fat consumption. For your protein needs, eat more fish and cut back on red meat.
3. Keep your brain busy
In the same way physical activity keeps your body fit, mental activity exercises your brain. Regularly engaging in mental agility exercises and active learning have been correlated with better memory in old age. Keep challenging your brain to do new things and push yourself by raising the difficultly in completing increasingly harder tasks.
Crosswords puzzles, Sudoku, brain teasers, etc. are all good ways of keeping your brain flexible in a playful way. Learning new skills and reading on diverse topics are also great ways of keeping your brain busy and agile.
4. Form social bonds
Loneliness and stress are at the root of many modern day problems, including memory deterioration. Isolation and chronic stress can lead to increased risk of depression, one of the biggest causes of onset dementia. Forming and maintaining social bonds can help prevent that.
Social interactions, bonding with loved ones, even just chatting with friends can help your mood significantly by releasing important mood hormones like serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine. It also creates a social safety net so you feel less isolated, and provides more opportunities for engaging your mind in new ways. All of this is great for your brain health.
5. Take care of chronic problems
High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol are all chronic problems that many suffer from. If left unchecked, over time they can lead to memory-degenerative diseases.
Pay attention to your health by knowing the symptoms of these health problems. Visit your doctor for regular check-ups, and follow their guidance and advice, including maintaining daily medications or health practices. Small changes in diet and exercise can help improve your sleep, which is beneficial towards overall better health.
When you actively manage or prevent chronic health problems, you can significantly delay or reduce the chances of age-related diseases, including memory loss.
6. Get enough sleep
Sleep is extremely important for your memory. A large part of memory consolidation takes place during the deep sleep stage. Losing even one hour of sleep, including restless sleep, can lead to lower attention during the day and cause memory loss in old age. Over time, the negative effects of sleep deprivation can accrue to make your brain slower, heavier, and more prone to degeneration.
When it comes to sleep, the key is quality, not quantity. You can improve your sleep by changing some simple steps in your nighttime routine. Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before bed. Stop drinking caffeine early enough in the day to avoid the stimulating effects as you go to bed. A few small changes can go a long way towards improving how you sleep.
There’s no way to stop the aging process. But you can help prevent the onset of memory problems and age-related diseases through healthy lifestyle changes. It’s never too late to start taking care of your body and your brain. Remember, little by little, a little becomes a lot, so why not start today?
For more information on ways you can protect your brain, watch this video: