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By Jan Larraine Cox
Our brains are our most complex organ. It is meant to thrive, restore and create! We can make proven lifestyle and food choices to boost our brain power right now when we need it most. Genetics are not the last word on our brain health. So let’s get moving toward our purpose by establishing some great lifelong habits.
How to eat for brain health
First of all, the GBOMBS (greens, beans, onion, mushrooms, berries & seeds) are a benchmark to always continue. Greens can add 11 years to a life and blueberries 2.5 years, research shows. Also, coffee in the morning, followed by decaf and/or tea is excellent for mind protection, as well as getting some early morning sunshine.
Eat plenty of foods rich in antioxidants like fruit, vegetables, green tea and those rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, walnuts and flaxseeds.
Aerobic walking is an excellent way to diminish damaging cortisol and increase serotonin and endorphins which are mood lifting chemicals. Walking around your street or park is multidomain moderate exercise and thus far superior for your brain health than the single modality exercise of repetitive motion at the gym treadmill, bicycle or other equipment.
Vestibular brain training occurs during dual tasking, which increases memory, balance and fall risk protection. Thirty to sixty minutes of aerobic walking per day is highly recommended by therapists for brain and overall health. Many choose to meet a friend for a walk, which requires thought and some conversation, reaping multi-domain rewards as you make decisions on where to turn and which wildlife to notice.
Dancing is another form of exercise that increases mind power, as long as it is enjoyable, and building confidence in the individual.
While you utilize more parts of your brain, you not only boost strength, but also reverse damage and build new blood vessels. You also work against any chronic “fight or flight” syndrome. You are replacing good stress for that bad stress. Thus, you reap the reward of an estimated 35 percent lower risk of cognitive decline as an older adult.
Alternatively, meditation can also enhance focus, concentration, creativity and learning.
Better sleep will follow, engaging the mind and extracting worry and anxiety from your system. During sleep, your mind forms and stores new memories so you can retrieve them later. Sleep deprivation on the other hand reduces growth of new cells in the hippocampus, causing problems with memory, concentration and decision making.
And definitely stay away from smoking and smokers, which constricts arteries that deliver oxygen to your body’s most complex organ.
When it comes to keeping your mind young, remember: use it or Lose it! Play games with strategy involved like Scrabble, chess and bridge. Read books and magazines that challenge you. Take on a project that involves design and planning: quilting, woodworking, redecorating a room. Learn new things through music, foreign language, a new sport, alternate driving routes and recipe sharing.
Have fun while giving and receiving the gift of brain health!