It was once believed that the brain develops rapidly in the first few years of a child’s life, then reaches its peak in the early 20s, leveling off around middle age, and then declining with advanced age. We now know that’s not exactly accurate; the brain continues to develop throughout our whole lifespan.
The disturbing thing that happens to the aging brain is the hippocampus shrinks in size, and the protective coating around nerve fibers starts to wear down, reducing the speed of neuronal communication. This reduction can affect your ability to process new information into your memory and retrieve memories already stored in your brain.
But take heart, it’s not all downhill as we age. In older brains, connections between different brain areas become more robust, and the branching of dendrites increases. The result is an improved ability to identify relationships among diverse sources of information, see a bigger picture, and better understand the broader implications of specific issues.
Several things can interfere with brain function as we grow older, including medications, diseases like heart disease and diabetes, poor sleep, and depression. The more you can do now to strengthen your brain and maintain optimal brain health, the more resilient and elastic it will be as you progress into older age. Here, then, are eight simple ways to boost your memory and protect your brain from age-related decline.
1. Stimulate your brain
Research shows that an active brain enjoys more new connections between nerve cells, and it can even help generate new brain cells and promote neuroplasticity. Stimulating your brain is easy, simply involving activities that put it to work and make it think. Read more, take a class, learn to play an instrument, create art, or do math or word puzzles, and strive to do fewer passive activities like watching TV.
Exercise is a proven way to heal nearly anything that ails you, including brain decline. Physical activity promotes the development of new nerve cells in the brain, and it improves the connections between existing cells. It also improves brain function by lowering your blood pressure and reducing cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and stress.
3. Eat your vegetables
A healthy brain depends on a healthy diet. Feed your mind a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, and healthy oils like olive oil while cutting down on sugar, animal proteins, and processed foods. A nutritious, mostly plant-based diet can reduce your risk of cognitive impairment, including dementia, as you age.
4. Limit your drinking
Excessive alcohol increases your risk for dementia and other forms of brain decline as you age. It can also change your brain’s physical structures and chemical function, leading to addiction and dependence. Limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks per day, and avoid binge drinking altogether.
5. Take care of your mental health
Mental illnesses like anxiety and depression take a toll on your brain function, and while these and other mental illnesses don’t appear to increase the risk of cognitive decline as you age, they can affect your brain function, including your memory and your ability to learn new things. If you experience symptoms of mental illness, talk to your doctor. Mental illness is highly treatable, and there’s no reason to allow your quality of life to suffer because of it.
6. Keep your friends close
Social connections have been linked to a lower risk for dementia, and having a healthy social life can lower your blood pressure, improve your quality of life, and even extend your life expectancy. Make it a point to socialize with your friends and family regularly. If you feel isolated, meet new people by joining clubs or volunteering to expand your social network.
7. Lower your cholesterol
High cholesterol is associated with an increased risk for dementia, and it can affect your day-to-day brain function. Have your cholesterol tested regularly. If it’s heightened, modify your diet and get more exercise, which will not only improve your cholesterol but also help you lose weight and improve your overall physical and mental health.
8. Boost brain health with a supplement
Brain-boosting nootropic supplements can have a positive impact on your brain function. Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Brain provides powerful dosages of essential vitamins and minerals, including brain-boosting ingredients like Vitamin B, Choline, Phosphatidylserine, Bacopa Monnieri, and Huperzine A. Two once-daily capsules of Dynamic Brain helps to improve your memory, focus, mental clarity, and cognitive function.
Taking good care of yourself–mind, body, and spirit–goes a long way towards keeping your brain healthy throughout your entire life. Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise your body and your mind daily, and take a daily nootropic support supplement to provide your brain with all of the nutrients it needs for optimal functioning no matter your age.