6 Ways to Improve Your Brain Function Through Cognitive Fitness
Brain Exercise? Yes Brain Exercise! The exercise you should be doing everyday… multiple times of day! In fact, exercising your brain should become your number one health goal no matter your age. The more you exercise physically in your adolescence and young adulthood the more likely you are to be physically fit as you grow older. Likewise, the more you perform a cognitive fitness routine when you’re younger the better brain function you will have as you age.
No matter how old you are, it is important to start a cognitive exercise regime. Following these steps will improve the health of your brain. Our brain is vital to a happy and healthy life. At Lake Country Medical Concierge, our goal is to make sure you are as physically and cognitively healthy as you can be.
Here are 6 strategies that are proven to improve your brain health.
1. Eat a Mediterranean Diet
You know that food affects your body and weight, but did you know that it also plays a vital role in your brain health? Certain foods play a critical role in keeping your brain sharp. These include omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants. The foods that are good for your brain are also beneficial for your heart and blood vessels. The Mediterranean diet in particular is great for increased cognitive function.
When choosing brain smart foods consider these:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Fatty Fish
- Tea and Coffee
It should be noted that the following foods have actually been shown to decrease brain function and should be avoided when possible: Red meat, whole milk, sugars, refined flour, trans fat, and diet soda.
2. Exercise Regularly
Studies show that exercise improves many brain functions that tend to decrease with age. Active people are able to focus and process information better than those who do not exercise regularly. According to experts, the ideal exercise regime includes both aerobic exercise (cardio) and weight training. According to Harvard Health, “The key with any form of exercise is that you work to the very limit of your ability, pushing yourself as hard as you can. It seems that extra push translates into real cognitive benefits.”
3. Make Sure You are Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for good brain health. In fact, not getting enough sleep for sustained periods can play a detrimental role in your long term cognitive function. Let your
doctor know if you consistently have trouble falling or staying asleep, so you can find the treatment or solution that best fits the cause. At Lake Country Medical Concierge we have a sleep clinic for those with sleep apnea because we know the importance of good sleep. If you are concerned you may have sleep apnea, reach out to us so we can help you achieve restful nights.
4. Manage Your Long Term Stress
Stress is ever present in today’s world. The goal is not to get rid of the stresses in your life but learn how to manage stress. Short term stress can be beneficial for your brain because it pushes the brain to perform. However, when short term stress turns in to long term stress that does not get resolved it can produce changes to the brain’s structure and function. The cortisol and hormones that are produced from long term stress can really affect how your brain functions; unfortunately for the worse. Chronic stress can stop the development of new neurons in your hippocampus and also lead to the shrinkage of the frontal cortex.
Learning strategies that help you to relax can greatly impact your brain health. Exercise and relaxation techniques can build back lost volume in the hippocampus while also helping you to manage stress around you.
5. Maintain Solid Social Ties
We are inherently social creatures. Positive social interactions can have acute effects on your health and longevity. In a study of more than 2,200 women published in the American Journal of Public Health, women with a large social network were less likely to develop dementia than women with fewer connections. Dr. Nancy J. Donovan of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s
Hospital found that participants who reported loneliness experienced faster cognitive decline.
Social activities require you to engage several important mental processes, including attention and memory. Frequent engagement helps strengthen neural networks, slowing normal age-related declines.
6. Don’t Stop Challenging Your Brain
The more you challenge your brain the more of a buffer you will create against the adverse effects of the aging brain. Everything you do can become mental exercise if you pay attention to it and try to get better at it.
Some ways to challenge your brain are:
- Trying something new or learning new things
- Puzzles and card games
Your brain health can both positively and negatively affect your physical health. It is important to us to help you improve your cognitive function. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to our office 706-510-3659 . Brain health is not something you want to put off until you start noticing detrimental effects. At Lake Country Medical Concierge, we work with people of all ages to improve the quality of their cognitive and physical vigor. Our concierge practice will allow more time with patients and the opportunity to develop a holistic approach that addresses the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and environmental influences that affect a person’s health. Together, we can work collaboratively to design and implement a customized plan to improve your overall wellness.
A Guide to Cognitive Fitness. A Harvard Medical School Special Report. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD. www.health.harvard.edu.