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 is the ability to draw on the strengths of your brain—information management, logic, judgement, perspective and wisdom.”
Essentially, brain health refers to the idea that lifestyle factors play a large role in how well your brain functions. Practicing healthy habits gives the brain the tools necessary to function at its highest potential, and maintaining optimal brain health is an important part of reducing the risks aging poses to cognition.
We sat down with Attending Neurologist and Director of the DENT Concussion Center, Dr. Jennifer McVige, who shared her tips for maintaining 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 the brain sharp by participating in activities that require mental stimulation.These activities could include reading, solving puzzles, even learning a foreign language. The best way to maintain cognitive health 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. A few common ‘brain foods,’ or foods that are scientifically proven to protect your brain, include; blueberries, wild salmon, dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, and dark chocolate.
“If you put junk food into your body your brain will not work as effectively. Stay away from high sugar, high fat processed foods and try to eat clean,” said Dr. McVige.
3. Physical Exercise
What’s good for the body is good for the brain!
“Regular physical exercise helps your brain work better,” said McVige. “Exercise increases 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.”
The content of this post is intended for general educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical advice. Readers should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.