The brain is an incredible organ filled with 100 billion neurons that seamlessly communicate, allowing you to complete tasks from breathing to critical problem solving. Amazingly, it only takes the brain around 1/10,000th of a second to identify a need and respond with the appropriate action.
According to the National Institute on Aging, “Brain health refers to the ability to remember, learn, play, concentrate and maintain a clear, active mind. It’s being able to draw on the strengths of your brain—information management, logic, judgement, perspective and wisdom.”
Essentially, brain health is all about taking care of your brain so that it is able to function at its highest potential.Taking good care of your brain is also an important part of reducing some of the risks aging poses to cognitive health.
We sat down with Attending Neurologist and Director of the DENT Concussion Center, Dr. Jennifer McVige, who shared her top tips for brain health.
1.Use it or Lose It
“Your brain, just like any other muscle needs to be exercised,” said Dr. McVige, “To keep your brain functioning at its highest potential, you must exercise your brain as you would exercise your body.”
You can keep your brain sharp by participating in activities that require mental stimulation, such as reading, solving puzzles, even learning a foreign language. The best way to keep your brain young is to never stop learning new information.
“Staying cognitively fit will keep you more alert as you get older,” added Dr. McVige.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
A well-balanced diet, makes for a well-balanced brain.
“If you put junk food into your body your brain will not work as effectively. Stay away from high sugar, high fat processed foods,” said Dr. McVige, “Try to eat clean.”
Some ‘brain foods’ include blueberries, wild salmon, dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, and dark chocolate.
3. Physical Exercise
What’s good for the body is good for the brain!
“Regular physical exercise helps your brain work better,” said McVige. “It helps increase blood flow to the entire body, allowing us to process information better.”
Sleep is a vital part of staying mentally and physically healthy.
“A proper sleep regimen is important for adequate brain health. Sleep deprivation can cause difficulty with concentrating, create mood issues, and even cause headaches.”
5. Be Conscious of Brain Injuries
“When in doubt sit out,” said Dr. McVige. “Your brain is a beautiful, complex organ with amazing healing powers, but if more injuries are sustained before the brain is fully recovered the healing process gets interrupted.”