How To Keep Your Brain Sharp As You Age: A Preventative Guide
As we grow older, we must take care of our cognitive health. You may have seen cases of memory loss or poorer brain health in older adults, and this is not a coincidence. Various factors can contribute to the normal ageing process, and our brains may be prone to weakening over time. This phenomenon carries numerous neurological disorders, such as mild cognitive impairment, or some more severe cases, such as Alzheimer's disease.
A study has found that over 55 million people worldwide have dementia caused by the ageing process or injuries. However, there are ways to prevent ageing and have a healthy daily life, even in our oldest days. Today, we will talk about some factors contributing to memory loss and brain health, as well as what you can do to prevent symptoms of ageing and decrease your chances of medical conditions.
Which factors influence the brain ageing process?
As we age, we may lose brain function, leading to various diseases caused by dying of the brain tissue. Although this process may seem irreversible, there are ways to prevent cognitive decline and live a happy life. Below, you will see some of the most common factors influencing our brain health connected to ageing.
We are exposed to numerous toxins and environmental factors that may speed up ageing. For example, alcohol may be one of the leading factors influencing your brain function. You may not notice the symptoms at first, but as you age, your brain cells may age faster due to environmental circumstances.
Moreover, many people expose themselves to risk in their workplaces. People who work as, for example, hairdressers expose themselves to chemicals and toxins that may damage the brain cells. Thus, environmental factors, such as toxins and chemicals, can influence our health, putting us at risk of decreased mental function that may occur in older adults.
Scientists have discovered genomes responsible for inheriting the average ageing speed in older adults, creating a map of genomes that regulate this factor. Some people may inherit faster ageing from their ancestors. For example, if your parents have Alzheimer's disease, there is a chance that you will have it as well.
Due to genetics, you may be more prone to poorer brain health and may experience symptoms before age 50. However, this factor depends on your genetics and how your body will accept the genomes of your ancestors. It may not always be the case that you will inherit a brain disease, and there isn't a pattern to determine who will and will not get a diagnosis.
Stress is one of the factors that can influence our overall health. This factor is responsible for numerous diseases, such as diabetes, heart problems, mental health conditions, etc. Although removing stress from our lives is impossible, it is essential to take disease control and start working on stress management.
Aside from the abovementioned diseases, stress can influence the brain state of older adults. For example, if exposed to stressful circumstances for extended periods, a patient may develop Alzheimer's disease or memory loss. Thus, stress may be one of the crucial factors regarding cognitive health due to its influence on the brain and our overall well-being.
People are social beings who require social interaction to function correctly. A healthy life isn't without friends, family, partners, or other social connections. Thus, if an individual isolates themselves from social engagement, it may lead to health issues, such as brain function difficulties. We need people to live everyday life and deal with brain problem prevention.
There have been numerous isolation experiments from which people have come out entirely different.
You may have also heard about feral children experiments where children have lost or not developed speaking or social skills and have had severe anxiety due to a lack of social interaction and engagement. Humans need social interaction to live healthy lives.
People with chronic health conditions are more prone to brain diseases than healthy people. These conditions can affect brain connections and increase the chances of poor brain health. For example, diabetes patients may be exposed to depression and brain ageing faster than an average human. Moreover, people with diabetes may experience nerve damage leading to poorer cognitive performance later in life.
Another condition that can contribute to brain ageing relates to heart health. Any cardiovascular disease can leave a mark on your health, but when it comes to brain function, these diseases can damage blood vessels that provide the brain with what it needs. A person with poorer cardiovascular health, high blood pressure, or coronary artery disease may experience brain health issues.
You may have heard a million times that good nutrition is vital for a healthy lifestyle. We must incorporate as many macronutrients and minerals as possible to keep our bodies healthy. Every organ in our body requires special care and nutrients to function better. For example, muscles need protein to grow and keep our bodies as strong as possible.
On the other hand, the brain requires whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids, and numerous vitamins. If we don't provide these nutrients to our bodies, they may bail on us. For example, not giving the brain enough vitamins may affect its function and contribute to developing brain disease.
How to keep your brain sharp?
We have mentioned a couple of factors that may influence your brain health, but the list goes beyond recognition and science. However, there are proven methods that can help you sharpen your brain and prevent major health concerns in older adults connected to brain ageing.
Below, we will present some activities you can do to prevent diseases and live a healthy life.
Stay Mentally Active
Engaging in mental activities can be crucial for your brain health. You can do numerous activities to stay mentally active; for example, you can find a puzzle or strategic game you like (such as crossword puzzles or a jigsaw puzzle) that will work on your memory.
It's also good to draw some places you've visited, such as your home street, from your memory to improve your cognitive abilities.
You have to incorporate various brain exercises to maximize their effectiveness. For example, you can play chess with your friends or family in the morning and solve a crossword puzzle in the evening. Ensure to switch between different activities to increase the difficulty and make your brain work more.
Engage in Physical Activity
Regular physical activity can benefit our mental health as much as it is for our physical ones. Exercise can open our blood vessels, improving blood flow and providing our brains with the necessary function. Moreover, exercise can prevent brain shrinkage and improve our overall cognitive performance.
To prevent dementia and fight off other diseases, we need to treat our bodies as armour. The better the armour, the fewer the chances of developing a brain disease. Bettering our physical performance will sharpen our brains and help us think more clearly.
Physical activity will boost your cognition and help you with problem-solving skills, according to CDC research. Thus, caring for your body will ultimately reflect on your brain health.
Control Toxin Intake
Numerous groceries nowadays contain toxins and chemicals in small quantities, and, in most cases, we are unaware of their effect. Sometimes, we cannot control what we intake.
However, there are some toxins we can manage to better our performance and prevent cognitive decline in the future. These toxins are essential in brain ageing and numerous other health aspects.
For example, nicotine and alcohol are common toxins affecting our health, such as our cardiovascular system, and speeding up the natural ageing in adults. Caffeine can also be harmful to our health in larger quantities.
Thus, it is essential to restrict toxin intake to live a healthy life. You can also switch to organic foods for better health care.
Go to Regular Check-ups
Medicine should be a regular part of our lives. Every individual should occasionally visit the doctor to check whether everything is fine. Your doctor can keep track of your brain aging and see whether you need help suppressing the normal aging speed.
Moreover, your specialist can detect whether something else may contribute to cognitive decline or dementia later in life.
For example, your specialist can check your blood pressure and see whether it puts you at risk of other health issues such as Alzheimer's.
Your doctor can act quickly and prescribe you medication to help you fight off any enemies that may affect your future. Regular check-ups can save your brain and memories, providing a healthy life.
Be Socially Engaged
As we have mentioned, being socially isolated can negatively impact your brain. Older people tend to spend their time alone, which can increase the risk of brain diseases. To prevent this, we should spend time with our families and friends to improve our cognitive capabilities and save our memories in the long run.
Any social interaction helps ward you from brain decline; even if you grab a drink with your friend for half an hour can benefit your brain. You can preserve your memories by making them with your loved ones.
They will take care of your well-being and decrease the chances of you requiring medical assistance in the future.
Learn a New Skill
Learning a new skill can help you make better brain connections, leading to better performance. You should pick up whatever interests you and try to learn a new skill whenever possible. Whether making crossword puzzles, learning how to bake, or crocheting a beautiful sweater, these mind-engaging activities can help you keep your brain healthy.
One of the best things you can learn is a new language due to its benefits on your cognition. You will continuously improve your problem-solving skills while keeping your mind active.
You will positively alter your brain chemistry by thinking in the new language. It will prevent cognitive decline and help you improve your memory.
We have mentioned that stress puts you at risk of numerous diseases. When in a stressful situation, your heart rate can increase, causing difficulty breathing and leading to cognitive decline if exposed to stress frequently. Although you cannot avoid stress, you can manage the situation.
Depending on what causes stress in your surroundings, you can act accordingly. The easiest way to manage stress is to talk to a specialist who will propose a detailed plan to control a stressful situation. Everyone should learn how to act during stressful times to decrease the chances of developing a disease. A stress-free life is a healthy life.
Create a Regular Sleep Schedule
Getting enough sleep can positively impact our bodies. Eight hours of sleep every night will help you replenish your mind and focus during the day. However, we often encounter distractions that prevent us from going to rest or creating a sleep pattern. For example, you may wait for your favourite TV show to start at a particular time during the night, creating an inconsistent pattern.
You may also use your smart devices to distract yourself by watching social media content; before you even know it, it is 2 am, and you cannot get enough sleep before work. To create a consistent schedule, you should be strictly on time and avoid any possible distractions. Leave your phone in the other room at least an hour before bedtime to improve your sleep quality.
All of us like to snack by the TV and eat some chocolate every once in a while. Although snacks are not bad, they cannot replace a meal. When preparing a meal, you should consider all the nutrients your body needs to be healthy and have an excellent immune system. For example, you need vitamin C to fight off viruses and influenza.
It would be best if you also considered what your brain needs. Incorporate as many fatty acids as possible into your diet for the best results. Nuts and whole grains are packed with nutrients that can better your memory and prevent brain decline in older people. Food gives us strength and health; thus, you should eat mindfully and provide your body with what it needs. After that, you can snack on some chocolate with no risks.
Our brain is what controls everything else in our body. It is the mastermind behind all our functions; once it starts declining, our health also starts declining. Thus, taking care of our minds to live healthy lives is essential. Frequently, older people experience a cognitive decline due to poor lifestyles and genetics. We have explained how our brains age and what you can do to prevent this process and keep your memory spotless for a long time.
It is essential to mention that the brain condition will depend on an individual and that not all of the tips we have mentioned are suitable for everyone. However, you can try some of our recommendations because they won't harm you; you can only discover what you like and make your brain as healthy as possible.