As we get older, so does the health of our brain, and this is completely normal. As much as it is an inevitable truth, there are several tips and tricks on slowing down the effects of mental decline, to help you towards a life free of memory issues, that are associated with older age.
1. Stay mentally active
Mentally stimulating activity is crucial for keeping your brain sharp and in optimal shape – think of it like you would train any other muscle; training and using it to keep it in the best shape possible. There are many challenging activities that may provide long-term benefits to your mental health – sudoku, reading, strategic games, even building a piece of furniture. Unfortunately those Netflix marathons don’t fall into the same category – passive activities such as this provide very little mental stimulation and can actually have an adverse effect on your mental health.
2. Exercise regularly
Consistent exercise of 30-60mins several times per week has many known benefits, understandably making it a top priority when trying to preserve mental function. Exercise has been seen to stimulate the connections between brain cells (known as synapses) and increase the development of new nerve cells. This results in a more adaptive and efficient brain. Exercise also has many benefits that can help both your brain and your heart; lowering blood pressure, reducing mental stress, less chance of cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is absolutely vital to brain health. Besides being like a big reset button, the benefits of the mechanisms underlying sleep are not fully known, yet several studies have investigated sleep to consolidate memories, which boosts memory and your overall brain health. Though recommended amount of sleep varies depending on the individual and a variety of other physical and lifestyle factors, the general rule of thumb is at least 6-7 consecutive hours of sleep per night.
4. Improve your diet
Eating a healthy and balanced diet (lower in fat and higher in fruit and vegetables) is undeniably crucial to reducing the risk of cognitive decline. A noteworthy diet that incorporates much more plant-based foods, whole grains, fish and healthy fats than the average diet, is the Mediterranean diet. Though many of the essential nutrients for the body can be acquired through our diet, some require higher levels of consumption than others, leading many people to be deficient without even realising, such as Vitamin C, magnesium and omega-3. Adequate consumption or supplementation of such nutrients is is required at all times.
5. Be sociable
Being out and about with friends, family and the local community allows for opportunities for social interaction that can fend off symptoms of depression and stress. Volunteer at a local shelter, catch up with a friend for coffee, have a family BBQ are all perfect examples of remaining socially active, as it limits solitude in the day-to-day life, and the negatives that link to it like brain atrophy.