It’s not uncommon to hear that you can stay mentally sharp as you age by regularly engaging in activities like crossword puzzles and chess. But there are many other habits that have been found to be good for the brain, such as eating a healthy diet or getting enough physical activity. These lifestyle changes can help protect your mental health and prevent cognitive decline, which is crucial for maintaining your independence and quality of life as you age.
We suggest15 key lifestyle habits that you can adopt to ensure your brain stays healthy. These Science-backed lifestyle changes can potentially prevent cognitive decline.
1. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet can help keep your brain sharp as you age.
A healthy diet contains lots of antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage. It also has a high level of vitamins and minerals, which are essential for building and repairing brain tissue.
A healthy diet can help prevent cognitive decline by providing the nutrients that are essential to brain health. Eating a nutritious diet can help maintain and improve your memory, processing speed, and executive function.
You don’t have to be a nutritionist or dietitian to know that eating fruits and vegetables is good for you. So what is a healthy diet like?
- Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that help fight disease.
- No Processed foods like chips or sugary drinks provide little nutritional value but can lead to weight gain and diabetes.
- healthy proteins and healthy fats. It’s also important to cut down on saturated fat as it could increase your risk of heart disease
- trans fat should be avoided altogether because it increases bad cholesterol levels
- sodium increases blood pressure so try not to add salt to the table; cholesterol levels should stay below 200 mg/d
- Finally, avoid processed meats such as bacon since they’re high in saturated fat
2. Get enough physical activity
Regular physical activity—such as walking, jogging, or yoga—improves brain health. It can help to improve memory and focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and even improve mood.
Regular physical activity can help prevent cognitive decline.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that people who engaged in regular physical activity were at a lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia than those who did not. MCI is an intermediate stage between normal aging and dementia, and it often affects memory, thinking skills, and language ability.
The study included over 4,000 adults aged 70 or older from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort. The researchers followed them for an average of 6 years to see if those who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were less likely to develop MCI or dementia than those who did not engage in such activity.
Those who had engaged in regular physical activity prior to the onset of MCI had a lower risk of developing dementia during the study period than those who did not engage in regular physical activity prior to the onset of MCI. According to lead author Brian Lopresti: “Our results suggest that engaging in moderate-to-vigorous exercise may be protective against cognitive decline.”
3. Be Social
Social interaction is one of the best ways to improve your mental health and reduce your risk of developing depression. Studies have shown that social isolation can contribute to cognitive decline in older adults, while those who remain socially active tend to perform better on memory tests.
Being social doesn’t just mean joining a book club or going out for drinks with friends; it means finding new ways to meet new people, finding new activities and interests, and making friends—all things that will help keep your brain engaged as you age.
4. Get a good night’s sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for your mental health and well-being.
Getting a good night’s sleep is key to preventing cognitive decline.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “With age, your body’s ability to regulate sleep patterns and cycles becomes less efficient.” This means that older adults tend to have more trouble falling asleep at night than younger adults do and that they also wake up more often throughout the night. Such disruptions are associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, which will impair your ability to remember things in your day-to-day life.
As you age, your brain loses its ability to repair itself and regenerate new neurons. This means that you need to be extra vigilant about getting enough sleep and avoiding stress if you want to keep your brain functioning at its best.
One of the best things about sleep is that it helps protect your brain from stress hormones, like cortisol. If you don’t get enough rest, these hormones can build up and cause damage over time.
Researchers have found that sleep deprivation can cause a variety of negative effects on mental health, including memory loss and a reduced ability to remember things. This is because when you’re tired, your brain doesn’t work as well. While we don’t yet know exactly why this is, it’s likely due to a combination of factors such as stress and inflammation—both of which are exacerbated by lack of sleep—and hormonal changes in the body.
Sleep helps your brain function at its best. When you’re awake and alert, your brain uses the most energy so it can keep working. But when you sleep, your brain needs less energy to stay active. That’s because some of your brain’s functions slow down or even stop completely during sleep. Your body also releases hormones during sleep that help repair and restore your brain cells.
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5. Read more
Reading is a great way to prevent cognitive decline.
- It can help prevent cognitive decline by keeping your mind active and challenging it to think critically and creatively. Reading also increases your vocabulary and helps you with problem-solving skills.
- It’s true! When you read, your brain cells actually generate new connections and strengthen old ones. This is called neuroplasticity, and it can lead to improved memory and concentration.
- In addition, reading increases the flow of oxygen to your brain, which can make it easier for you to focus on tasks at hand and stay alert for long periods of time.
Reading can also help curb feelings of loneliness by giving you an escape from reality for a bit—and that’s something we could all use every now and then!
6. Learn a new language.
Learning a new language can prevent or at least slow cognitive decline.
A study by the University of California, Irvine found that bilingual people have a smaller risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who speak only one language.
This is because when you learn a new language, you are forced to use both sides of your brain at once. This increases blood flow to the brain, which helps it function better and fight off disease.
Learning a new language can help slow cognitive decline.
When you learn a new language, it makes you think in different ways than you usually do. This is the same as if you were learning to juggle or play chess; it’s an entirely different way of thinking and operating that can help relieve some of the stress on your brain.
Learning a new language also helps with memory loss and dementia, because it forces you to recall information that isn’t just sitting there waiting for you to use, like when we learn something in school or as an adult.
A study by the University of Edinburgh in 2014 found that bilingualism can be beneficial to your health, specifically in slowing down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The study looked at data from 7,000 people over the age of 65 and found that those who spoke two languages had a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who only spoke one language. Additionally, they found that this effect was even more pronounced in those who began learning a second language later in life (after the age of 11).
This isn’t just because bilingualism helps with your brain’s ability to multitask—it also has an impact on how you think about thinking itself. By learning a new language, you’re giving yourself more opportunities to think about how you think. This means that when you’re faced with new challenges or problems, you’ll be able to approach them from a variety of perspectives instead of relying on just one way of doing things–which is important for keeping your mind sharp well into old age.
7. Do puzzles, Sudoku, crosswords, and other brain games (these are especially good for elderly people).
Doing puzzles, Sudoku, crosswords and other brain games can help you fight cognitive decline.
That’s right: the same thing you do to pass time can also help prevent mental decline. People who regularly play these games have been shown to experience a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who don’t. This is because these games work to improve your memory and processing speed which are key factors in keeping your mind sharp as you get older.
A study by scientists at the University of California at San Diego found that people who engage in cognitively demanding activities are less likely to develop dementia. The researchers studied 1,401 people over age 70 and found that those who did puzzles at least three times a week were half as likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease than those who did not engage in such activities.
The study also found that people who regularly played games like chess or cards had a 40% lower risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease than those who did not play such games. While these findings do not prove cause-and-effect relationships between these activities and reduced risk of cognitive decline, they show a correlation between brain stimulation and reduced risk of dementia in older adults.
8. Take classes in something that interests you—history, cooking or drawing are all great choices!
Cognitive decline is a natural part of aging and can be slowed by keeping your brain active.
Learning new things keeps your brain from atrophying and helps maintain mental fitness as you age.
Take classes in something that interests you—history, cooking or drawing are all great choices!
You might be surprised by the benefits of learning a new skill. In fact, cognitive decline is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Taking classes can help boost your memory, keep your mind sharp and make you feel more connected with others.
Cognitive decline can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. When you learn new skills and maintain your brain health, your mind will be able to stay strong for years to come.
9. Manage your stress levels
Stress can be a factor in cognitive decline. In fact, the American Psychological Association states that stress is one of the leading causes of mental illness. While it’s natural to feel under pressure from time to time, when you’re chronically stressed out it can take a toll on both your physical and mental health. As such, it’s important to find ways to manage your stress levels so you can maintain optimal brain function as you age.
10. Don’t smoke
Quitting smoking can help prevent cognitive decline.
Smoking is a major cause of cognitive decline, and the long-term effects of smoking on the brain have been well documented. The chemicals in cigarettes can damage blood vessels in the brain, leading to stroke and other health problems. In addition, nicotine causes plaque buildup in the arteries that supply blood to your brain, which can lead to stroke or heart attack.
The ability to learn and remember information is a vital part of maintaining good cognitive health, and the effects of smoking on brain function can be severe. In fact, there’s evidence that smoking leads to a decrease in both the size of your brain and its ability to function normally—and this process begins almost immediately after you start smoking.
When you smoke, you’re breathing in carbon monoxide and other harmful gases into your lungs every time you inhale. These gases also damage your blood vessels, which can lead to problems like stroke or heart attack—and they may even cause Alzheimer’s disease or dementia later in life. So if you’ve been thinking about quitting but haven’t gotten around to it yet, now’s the time!
As you age, you’re also more likely to experience a loss of mental sharpness due to normal aging processes such as age-related memory loss (dementia) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Smoking makes these conditions worse by increasing the risk of vascular dementia by up to 60%.
11. Control your blood pressure
Controlling your blood pressure is one of the best ways to prevent cognitive decline.
High blood pressure can lead to a number of serious health problems, including stroke and heart disease. But it also has an effect on your brain: high blood pressure increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, which is already the leading cause of dementia.
High blood pressure can lead to a stroke, which can cause brain damage. This damage can affect your ability to think and remember, but it can also cause you to be more likely to have another stroke. The more times you have a stroke, the more likely it is that you will suffer from cognitive decline.
For people with hypertension, the good news is that there are things you can do to make sure your blood pressure stays in check—and protect your brain from cognitive decline as a result.
12. Maintain cholesterol levels
Maintaining cholesterol levels is essential to preventing cognitive decline.
The brain is made up of billions of cells and requires many nutrients to function properly. Cholesterol is one of these nutrients, and it has been shown that low levels of cholesterol in the brain can lead to cognitive decline in older people. In fact, one study found that those with low levels of cholesterol had a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those with normal levels.
The exact mechanism behind this relationship is not yet clear, but researchers believe that because high cholesterol levels reduce the ability for neurons (brain cells) to communicate with each other and function properly, it may be possible that maintaining healthy cholesterol levels could help prevent cognitive decline by allowing your mind to work more efficiently as you age.
13. Monitor your blood sugar levels
Sometimes one of the main reasons for cognitive decline is poor blood sugar management. A study published by the American Diabetes Association found that people with high blood glucose levels had a higher risk of having mild cognitive impairment or dementia than those who maintained healthy levels of blood glucose. If you have diabetes, it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels and treat them accordingly so as not to worsen cognitive abilities later on in life.
14. Monitor thyroid hormone levels
Your thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in your body, and it’s responsible for a lot of things. One of them is synthesizing and secreting thyroid hormones. These hormones regulate the growth and metabolism of every cell in your body—and they do a lot more than that!
Thyroid hormone levels are very important to keep track of, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease or other types of hypothyroidism. If left untreated, these conditions can cause cognitive decline—and even worse, they can cause permanent damage to your brain.
The good news is that monitoring your thyroid levels can help not only prevent cognitive decline but also prevent many other problems from happening in the first place!
15. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a great way to combat stress and anxiety, both of which can cause or exacerbate cognitive impairment. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness can improve memory, attention span, and focus—which means it’s also effective at reducing the impact of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
The practice of mindfulness has been shown to have a positive effect on the brain’s structure and function. This includes increasing gray matter volume in key areas of the brain associated with emotional regulation (the amygdala), self-awareness (the insula), decision-making (the prefrontal cortex), and sensory processing (the hippocampus).
If you’re able to positively change your lifestyle, you can positively change your health. And if you’re able to positively change your health, the long-term effects of that are going to be positive for your entire life.
By making some changes in your lifestyle and how you live day-to-day, it’s possible to prevent cognitive decline—and even reverse some of the difficulties associated with aging.
The good news is that these changes don’t have to take up a lot of time or money; most of them can be accomplished by simply thinking about how you want to live differently than before.
The takeaway here is that if you’re able to make positive lifestyle changes, it will not only help prevent cognitive decline but also improve your overall health. We know that healthy eating, exercise, and sleep habits can all contribute positively toward better brain function as well as our overall well-being. It’s important to note that these suggestions are not in any particular order; each one is important on its own so we recommend starting with whichever one seems easiest or most manageable for you right now!
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Disclaimer: The information and advice contained in our articles are intended for general informational purposes only. The content on our site does not provide any medical advice and only reflects the opinion of writers. You should always consult a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health or well-being.