Brain Training: Keeping Your Brain Young and Healthy

Posted on Jul 26th 2013 by Florida Blue

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The human brain is a complicated organ that only weighs 2-4 pounds. You may already know that the brain is responsible for all of the functions in the body, but did you know you can improve your brain health at any age? And it’s not so difficult to do. According to Dr. Paul Nussbaum, a renowned neurophysiologist and author of “Save Your Brain,” we can improve our brain health and promote “brain reserve” just by practicing a healthy lifestyle. Brain reserve is important because it’s our brain’s natural defense against diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. When a brain is exposed to new environments and complex situations it activates the cortex, or the part of the brain that helps make connections. To promote this process and keep your brain young and healthy, Dr. Nussbaum recommends increasing physical activity, mental stimulation, socialization, nutrition and spirituality in order to keep your brain young and healthy. Physical Activity With every heartbeat, your brain demands 25% of the blood your heart pumps. Boosting your heart rate can increase the amount of the nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood the brain receives. Try engaging in cardiovascular activity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week by:

  • Walking briskly or running
  • Biking
  • Skating
  • Dancing
  • Playing a game of tag with the kids

You can also exercise your brain by using both sides of your body for daily activities (e.g. brushing your teeth and/or writing your name using your non-dominant hand). Mental Stimulation Stimulate your brain with mental tasks that are new and complex for you. You can try:

  • Learning a new language
  • Traveling to new places
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Playing board games
  • Developing hobbies

Socialization An inactive, isolated brain increases your risk for dementia. You can improve your brain reserve (and fight brain disease) by:

  • Building a network of new friends
  • Strengthening family bonds
  • Relying on forgiveness
  • Retiring from work, not from life

Nutrition Food fuels our body’s everyday processes and movements, and the quality (and quantity) of what you eat impacts brain health. Try:

  • Consuming more essential nutrients (omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants)
  • Eating less saturated and trans fat
  • Leaving food on your plate (eating 80% of what you plan to eat)

Spirituality The human brain seeks balance and peace. Finding these things can slow you down and help you connect with who you are and what you value most. Consider:

  • Learning deep breathing techniques
  • Incorporating meditation into each day
  • Learning yoga

No matter how old you are, it’s always a good time to begin practicing a healthy lifestyle. Take care of your brain, and it will take care of you. Resource: Nussbaum, Paul. PhD, Save Your Brain: Five Things You Must Do to Keep Your Mind Young and Sharp (2010):

Filed under: Mind/Body/Soul  

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