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Your Changing Brain

Research has shown that your brain is always changing. It is constant and the most complex organ we have that controls every part of us. “Brain plasticity” is the process of the brain to learn new information, grow new connections and repair broken ones according to Tenet Health. As we age and acquire knowledge, have more experiences, our brain will continue to develop.

With that in mind, there are several things you can do to keep your brain functioning its best as you grow in years.

  1. Try a new activity. It could be learning to play an instrument, figuring out a puzzle, learning a language or a new hobby. Something that you like and actively stimulates your brain.

  2. Feed your brain with healthy nutritious food that stimulates brain function. Some good ones include: fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, unsaturated oils (olive oil) and proteins from plant sources.

  3. Keep moving. Physical activity is good for your body and mind as it can increase oxygen flow as well as the growth of new nerve cells and connections, or synapses, between brain cells. Exercise also lowers blood pressure and can improve cholesterol levels while reducing stress. So many benefits make it a no-brainer “must” for brain health. The best simple brain exercise is cross over limb to limb.

  4. Sleep well.During sleep, your brain works overtime to repair itself, so don’t skip the shut-eye or eat just before going to bed. Your brain will focus on digestion instead of healing your body so stop eating at least 2 hours before bed.

  5. Get social. Creating and nurturing connections with others keeps life fun and interesting, and has been linked to lower blood pressure, lower risk of dementia and longer life expectancy.

  6. Manage your blood pressure. Having high blood pressure can lead to cognitive decline as well as heart problems.

  7. Manage your blood sugar. Diabetes is a risk factor for dementia, so eat right, exercise and maintain a healthy weight. If you have high blood sugar, follow your doctor’s recommendations to keep it under control.

  8. Limit alcohol. Excessive alcohol use is a major risk factor for dementia.

  9. Protect your head. Head injuries increase the risk of impaired brain function. Avoid falls, wear a helmet when biking or skiing, remove potential hazards from your path and use good lighting.

  10. Manage stress. Excessive worry and stress has been shown to lower performance on cognitive tests. Try yoga, meditation, taking a walk or listening to music to relax and clear your head. Then you can focus on the cause and a plan to address it.

  11. Adjust your attitude. Having an attitude of gratitude is most effective when you are grateful for what you currently have in the present.

  12. Be kind to others. Let a colleague or friend know how important they are to you. Do a random act of kindness like I heard one person bought a cup of coffee for someone behind them in line and it started a chain reaction to the line. Everyone in that line was paying for coffee for person behind them and only the first person actually paid for their own coffee and coffee for someone behind them.

Our lives are busy so slow down and just be mindful of what you do and who you interact with. Your brain will love you.

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