(Health Secrets) Want to keep your brain sharp and prevent mental decline? It takes more than just the brain itself. Healthy practices in many areas of life will help you keep your brain sharp, and your body in top shape too. Here are ten easy and natural ways to help keep your brain functioning at its best now and prevent problems later:
1. Lead an active lifestyle and exercise regularly. Regular exercise such as brisk walking, swimming, aerobics and yoga in mid-life helps forestall and prevent memory problems that often come with aging. In later years, regular exercise and physical activity can actually improve the brain function of people with mild cognitive impairment. There is no need to overdo it – mild to moderate exercise is all it takes to keep the brain sharp. The key is to do it regularly.
2. Exercise and challenge your mind and keep your brain sharp. An active brain stays flexible and continues to produce new connections between nerve cells. Studies have shown the benefits of regularly solving crosswords and other brain teasers. Other things to consider are reading, playing games such as chess, and learning a new hobby. Instead of watching mind numbing TV shows, watch programs that provide new and thought provoking information such as shows about history and science.
3. Eat a healthy diet. A diet low in sugar, bleached white flour and junk foods, and that has an abundance of colorful fruits and veggies will keep your brain sharp as well as keeping your body trim and protecting you against diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
4. Avoid and manage stress. We have all heard that stress is the silent killer and it is true. Stress damages the brain by releasing damaging hormones. Some of the best ways to manage stress include simplifying your life, avoiding stressful situations, stopping to smell the roses from time to time, and using techniques such as yoga, meditation, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and/or MTT (Meridian Tapping Technique).
5. Get adequate sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Restful sleep enables the body and brain to heal and recharge so that you are healthier and able to think more clearly. Sleep also helps you have a better long-term memory. If you have difficulty falling asleep use a natural melatonin supplement.
6. Be sure to include plenty of antioxidants in your diet. Numerous studies have shown that a diet rich in antioxidants helps prevent and slow age-related declines in memory and learning. Among the very best sources of antioxidants are blueberries, dark grapes and pomegranates. To make sure you get enough antioxidants and cover the nutritional basics, use a powdered super food supplement.
7. Incorporate plenty of essential omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Omega-3s help protect the brain against age-related decline and maintain proper brain function throughout life. Some of the best omega-3 sources include fatty cold water fish such as tuna, sardines, mackerel, and herring. To make sure you maintain optimal Omega-3 levels, take two omega-3 capsules daily.
8. Have an active social life. Talking and interacting with others keeps your brain active and sharpens thinking. According to a leading psychologist, spending only 10 minutes talking to another person can be as effective as mental exercises such as working crossword puzzles.
9. Don`t smoke. According to the Mayo Clinic, smokers have twice the risk of developing Alzheimer`s. If you do smoke, stop! Even people who have smoked for years can reduce their risk of memory problems by quitting.
10. Drink in moderation. While low to moderate amounts of alcohol, especially red wine, have been shown to protect against heart disease and cancer, heavy drinking (more than 14 drinks each week) actually shrinks brains.