What Is the Best Way to Keep Your Brain Healthy for Life? 11 Tips

Medically Reviewed on 5/12/2022
What Is the Best Way to Keep Your Brain Healthy for Life
Here are 11 tips for building, preserving, and protecting your brain health over time

Mental decline is common with aging, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable. By maintaining your overall physical health, you can lower the risk of developing cognitive diseases and keep your brain healthy.

Here are 11 tips for building, preserving, and protecting your brain health over time.

11 ways to keep your brain healthy

1. Eat a healthy diet

Good nutrition is key to keeping your brain healthy. According to many studies, the Mediterranean diet is an excellent diet that can ward off depression and dementia

The Mediterranean diet involves eating whole grains, seafood, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and olive oil, and requires limiting sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods. Since fish and nuts are rich in omega-fatty acids, which are known to boost brain health, following the Mediterranean diet may help you protect yourself against cognitive impairment.

2. Exercise regularly

Engaging in regular cardio activities elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain. This enhanced blood flow exposes your brain to more oxygen and nutrients. 

Exercise also triggers the release of beneficial proteins in the brain, which nourish brain cells (neurons) and promote the growth of connections (synapses) between these building blocks of the brain. The more synapses you maintain, the better your brain functions.

3. Get plenty of sleep

Sleep is crucial for brain health, as lack of sleep can impact your ability to think clearly, concentrate, and retain new memories. 

Sleep plays a role in several brain functions, including how neurons communicate with each other. Important hormones, including growth hormones, are released during sleep. Studies have shown that growth hormones have beneficial effects on certain brain functions, including memory, mental alertness, motivation, and thinking ability. Aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night to keep your brain healthy.

4. Stay hydrated

Water clears out toxins and waste from your body. When you are not adequately hydrated, these wastes can build up in your brain and negatively affect your body’s ability to carry important nutrients to your brain.

Studies show that staying hydrated is linked to faster decision-making ability and improved performance on cognitive tests. Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses a day to maintain adequate hydration.

5. Keep your mind stimulated

There are many ways you can sharpen your brain and keep it healthy, irrespective of your age. Brain exercises can help boost your memory and concentration. Examples include:

  • Working on a jigsaw puzzle
  • Learning a card game such as solitaire or bridge
  • Playing Sudoku
  • Playing chess
  • Learning a new skill such as cooking
  • Learning to play a musical instrument
  • Learning a new language
  • Writing a journal

6. Treat your medical conditions

Chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, and high cholesterol put you at a high risk of cognitive decline and conditions such as dementia. Therefore, keep your medical conditions under control by making healthy lifestyle changes and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor. 

It is also important to get medical treatment for emergency conditions such as stroke and inflammation of the brain (meningitis).

7. Avoid tobacco and alcohol

Tobacco use can cause negative chemical changes as well as oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. Excessive alcohol use can have similar effects. Studies have shown that both tobacco and alcohol use can increase damage to neurons in particular areas of the brain.

8. Protect your head

Moderate to severe head injuries can increase your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Remember to protect your head from trauma by wearing a seat belt when driving, using a helmet when riding a bike, and taking precautions to prevent falls.

9. Practice meditation

Meditation can help you reduce stress, which has a negative effect on brain health. Another benefit is that meditation can help you fine-tune your memory and increase your brain’s ability to process information. 

10. Stay connected

Regular social interaction helps keep stress and depression at bay, which can protect you from the risk of cognitive decline and memory loss.

Make time to stay connected to your loved ones, friends, colleagues, and neighbors, especially if you live alone. There is some evidence that links solitary confinement to brain atrophy, which indicates that socialization can have the opposite effect and preserve brain health.

11. Take care of your mental health

Depression and anxiety are linked with an increased risk of cognitive decline, aggravating memory loss and difficulty concentrating. If you suffer from a mental health issue, find ways to minimize stress and seek treatment for your condition.

Medically Reviewed on 5/12/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

10 Ways to Love Your Brain. https://www.alz.org/help-support/brain_health/10_ways_to_love_your_brain

Nyberg F. Growth hormone in the brain: characteristics of specific brain targets for the hormone and their functional significance. Front neuroendocrinol. 2000 Oct;21(4):330-348.

Meditation: In Depth. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth