Does this ever happen to you? You come into a room for a reason, but can’t remember why. You see a familiar face across a room, but the person’s name eludes you. You put something “in a good place” and its location remains a mystery. Sixty percent of people worldwide believe incorrectly that lapses in memory are an inevitable part of aging. The good news is there’s more information than ever about staving off forgetfulness. Our brain simply needs us to work it!
It makes sense. We’re used to hearing, “Use it or lose it!” about keeping our bodies in good shape. Why not apply it to keeping our brains fit? The problem is that when you examine the research about exactly what to do, there are so many theories about brain nutrition, mental exercise, and stress reduction that it’s overwhelming. I’ve sifted through the most credible recommendations and isolated these high impact tips. They’re guaranteed to work your brain:
FEED IT. When researchers talk about brain nutrition, healthy fats like salmon and avocado are at the top of the list. And if coffee is the highlight of your morning you’ll be glad to hear that it’s good for clear cognition. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants that delay brain aging and improve memory. Turmeric reduces inflammation and helps new brain cells grow. Nuts and seeds are rich in micronutrients like copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc that support brain function. And best of all, the flavonoids in dark chocolate protect the brain and boost both memory and mood.
BALANCE IT. Studies show that people who cannot stand on one leg for more than 20 seconds are more likely to have damage to small blood vessels in the brain. Try balancing your weight first on one leg, then on the other. If you’re wobbly, look online for exercises that focus on balance or try a tai chi class to increase your stability.
CONNECT IT. Your brain gets a workout when you interact with people. In one study, people who had the least social connection at the beginning of the experiment experienced twice as much memory loss over six years compared to those who had the highest levels of social connection. Play board games. Have conversations. Exchange opinions. Empathy and compassion increase brain endorphins and that feels good.
EDUCATE IT. Learn something new. Focusing on what you already know and are familiar with turns the brain to mush. Challenge yourself. Tackle new subjects even though you might feel uncomfortable and a bit befuddled at first. Understanding and remembering new ideas works the brain and builds cognitive reserves. It also makes you an interesting conversationalist.
Never stop working your brain. Select the ideas that appeal to you and use them. Science, technology, theater, art, music, politics, and sports have many new facets that are intriguing to learn about. Look around for fascinating activities to do and interesting people to be with. And how can we complain about a prescription for brain longevity that’s sweetened by chocolate?
Now where did I put the keys to my car?
Sources: Ageless Brain, Healthline.com, Mariomartinez.com