Brain health is crucial to longevity, and we may not always see so clearly the ways in which we are living our life that actually hurts our brain. The key is starting early in life, not waiting until the weight of brain deterioration is settling in. The earlier you start to take care of your brain health, the better. That being said, it’s never too late to start! So don’t fret if you had a bit of a crazy or wild past. Below are 5 ways you can increase your brain health. Do one or all of them, experiment, find what works for you and what you find enjoyable!
1. Participate in a Social Activity
We are social creatures, we are meant to be involved in a community. Taking some time to find a social activity you can take part in that you enjoy (and enjoy the people you’re participating with) can help boost your mood, create new relationships, get you moving, and provide an outlet for you to interact with other people, places and things. It can be harder the older you get to make new friends, especially if you’re not exercising your networking muscles very often. But I promise it can be fun if you go into it with an open mind and an open heart. Want some ideas?
- Join a local garden, art studio, dance/fitness studio or gym
- Take part in a group volunteer event doing something you love
- Search for interesting clubs/groups on MeetUp or other social meet up apps and check out an event or few
- Go to your community’s events and mingle with neighbors
- Take a skill building class – they can be for anything, like painting, cooking, or plant care to name a few
- Go to a concert or outdoor festival (music, food, art, etc.)
- Plan a gathering with your friends or family
2. Learn Something New
This is a great way to boost brain health. You’re creating new pathways in your brain when you’re learning something new, promoting cognitive flexibility and building brain matter. This can be as simple as reading a book, taking a class to learn a new skill, learning a new language, watching a documentary, or talking to other people about a specific topic. It also can go hand-in-hand with #1 if you’re doing it with someone else. It’s like a double brain boost!
3. Invest in Skincare Products That Have Clean Ingredients
Have you ever looked at the label on your skincare or makeup products? Yikes! Most of them are filled with harsh chemicals and toxins that are not only bad for your body but also for the environment. Did you know that your skin is your largest organ? Which means that it soaks up everything you put on it and pulls it into your bloodstream. If you’re putting harmful chemicals and toxins on your skin, can you imagine the damage they may be causing inside your body? When the chemicals in your skincare get pulled into your bloodstream, they are then circulated around you body (including to your brain) and if there’s an overload of toxins, your detox organs (like kidneys and liver) can’t fully process them for elimination because they’re so backed up!
Look for natural skincare products with labels stating things like “paraben-free” “no artificial ingredients” “sulfate-free” “non-toxic” to name a few. I also prefer to purchase “cruelty free” or “not tested on animals” products because those little animals don’t deserve to be test subjects when they can’t consent for themselves.
4. Spend Some Time in Nature
This is one of my personal favorite ways to boost brain health. Nature is where we are meant to be, it’s where our ancestors spent their time so, to me, it only makes sense that we’re hardwired to seek connections with nature (a theory called the biophilia hypothesis). Psychology shows us that being outside in nature has been linked to many benefits like improved attention, lower stress, better mood and reduced risk of psychiatric disorders. It can even help with calming this thing called monkey mind (or busy brain) which unfortunately affects many people today.
Spending just 40 seconds looking at greenery has been shown to boost a tired brain! It’s one of the reasons why I find it so important for me to do work where I can look out a window towards some kind of nature scene. And if your work setting doesn’t allow for window gazing, see if you can bring in a real plant for your desk, even a really good faux plant can do the trick.
One of my favorite things about spending time in nature is that it can also increase your happiness and overall feelings of well-being. Having a nature experience can increase good feelings and lower mental distress making you feel calm and light. A calm brain is a happy brain.
5. Add in Nutrient-Dense Foods to Your Diet
Adding in foods that are rich in antioxidants, nutritious fats (like omega-3 fatty acids), B vitamins and low in added sugars can help increase brain health. Foods like blueberries, avocados, walnuts and green tea are just a few options that you can add to your diet. By making these foods a regular part of your diet, you’re also protecting your heart and blood vessels!
> Green leafy vegetables are a great source of vitamin K and beta carotene (antioxidant) that may help to slow cognitive decline.
> Fruits, especially berries, are a great source of flavonoids which help improve memory. Have you ever heard the saying “eat your blueberries” if you’re forgetting things? Well, they’re not wrong!
> Avocados, and other unsaturated fats like fatty fish or olive oil, help build our brain and are essential for learning and memory. These nutritious fats have been show to decrease blood levels of the protein that forms clumps in the brains of those with brain degenerative diseases.
> Walnuts, and other nuts and seeds like brazil nuts and flaxseeds, help improve memory as well as lowering blood pressure, and protecting arteries. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that are essential for brain health.
> The caffeine and amino acid L-theanine in green tea may help your brain form new memories, improve cognitive function and reduce anxiety. As with anything with caffeine in it, don’t over-consume and figure out what level of caffeine works for your body.
Tell me, what do you want to start doing from this list above to increase your brain health? Are you already incorporating some of these in your daily life? Let me know in the comments!
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