I'm reading more and more exciting studies on brain health. The best part is that we can improve our brain cells at any age without any expensive equipment. No electric shocks are needed, after all. It is possible to develop new brain cells and reduce our risk of developing dementia.
If you want to be more focused, creative, and improve your memory, keep reading. Otherwise, stop right now and ignore the rest of this article.
Excercise. Of course, exercise is the best way to reduce stress and stay fit, but it also can grow new brain cells. Research has shown that when we engage in physical activity regularly, our brain activity increases as well.
From Harvard Medical, "In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning." Walking, running, and swimming all help in keeping the neurons in our brains active. Dancing is a great way to encourage neuroplasticity because learning different techniques strengthen new neural connections. Plus, it's the best way to exercise and have fun at the same time.
Diet. Hard to believe, but hamburgers, french fries, and cookies are not a good diet for a healthy brain. To keep our waistline and our minds fit, go for fresh fruit, nuts, and leafy green vegetables. I just read that researchers have found a gene in some people that makes vegetables like broccoli and cabbage taste bitter. You may be one of those people, but you're not off the hook. There are sweeter tasting vegetables like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes you can eat. Try roasting a variety of vegetables or create colorful salads. Keep the consumption of red meat to once or twice a week and add in some grilled fish. Research has shown that a plant-based diet may help slow cognitive decline.
Meditation. Relieving anxiety and calming the mind has terrific benefits for our brain. When we practice mindfulness and reduce stress, we're also preserving our brain's neuronal cell bodies known as gray matter. Gray matter is essential for learning, memory, and compassion. There are various meditation practices that you can find on the internet and apps that you can download for free. When you take a moment to take in slow, deep breaths, you're doing your body and your mind a favor.
Sleep. Too many of us have a hard time getting a good night's sleep, but it's vital for our brain health. When we sleep, our brain gets rid of toxins that build up during the day. We wake up feeling refreshed and focused. Our cognitive skills increase, and we are in a better mood. To help your chances of getting some shut-eye, here are a few ideas. Unplug from all electronics. Keep your room cool and focus on your breathing. Let your body sink into the bed. When your mind starts to wander, think of a three-word mantra. I am sleeping. I am comfortable. I am safe.
We're all dealing with uncertainty right now, and it has us on edge. Our health and well-being are everything. Take time out for yourself and exercise. Get the whole family involved in making nutritious meals. Meditation will help you get a good night's sleep. Connect with family and friends, and have some laughs. Stay safe, stay well.