. As if this isnt beaten into our heads enough, we now have another reason to get our butts, or brains, to the gym. Your brain needs circulation, blood flow, and oxygen just as much as other organs and muscles do in order to function productively. Accordingly, aerobic exercise has been found to reduce brain cell loss in elderly patients and allows for new cells to grow. There arent requirements on duration so long as you are actively exercising eac
Feed Your Brain
. Research shows eating a diet specifically low in fat and cholesterol but high in protein and sugar can reduce the risk of developing dementia and side effects leading to the disease. We what body healthy is but what is brain healthy? If youre on a clean eating diet now youre on the right track. Staying away from foods high in fat will greatly reduce the risk of blood clots as they greatly increase your risk in the development of Alzheimers. Prod
Become a Social Butterfly
. Staying close with friends and family and being involved in social activities and social situations can greatly contribute to a long life of strong cognitive health. (NOTE This does not promote ditching Tips 1 & 2 and only maintaining a large social group!) Along with physical exercise and a healthy diet, you should be incorporating activities into your life to maintain those social skills we developed and honed as kids. Keeping your brain activ
Let your Brain Work
. If youve nailed Tips 1 3 youre doing great but Tip 4 is where many people struggle including me. In a time with so much technology around us, its hard to turn off Angry Birds or the Kardashians and take 30 minutes to get lost in a book. When is the last time you did a crossword puzzle What about Scrabble? Using games where you have to use strategy to participate, are great ways to keep your brain sharp and active on the inside. We may need exe
. Smoking represents a major risk factor for cancer, heart disease and stroke. These leading causes of death represent an ongoing concern for all Americans. Nonsmokers might consider taking an empathetic approach to smokers who are trying to quit, and parents might use a tough love approach with their children to make sure they dont even start.
Follow your physicians advice
. Your relationship with your physician is critical to your health. Remember, though, that as a consumer of health services your doctor is your employee, so establish a good working relationship based on the understanding that you are the boss of your body. We must develop a proactive attitude toward maintaining our health and take responsibility to change those aspects of our lifestyles that are minimizing our longevity potential. Our physicians c
. Exercise and physical activity continue to emerge as primary components of a healthy lifestyle at any age. Aerobic exercise, weight training and recreation are critical not just to our cardiovascular health but to our brain health, as well. Every time our heart beats, 25 percent of its output goes to our brains quite a large market share! Clearly, maintaining efficient blood flow to our brains through regular exercise promotes health. If you dont
Reduce the overall calories you consume daily
. We Americans tend not to underconsume anything including food. Yet the leading factor for longevity in animals is caloric restriction. This finding has yet to be demonstrated in humans. However, provided you get your daily nutritional needs from the USDAS food pyramid, you should pay close attention to how much you eat. Follow the advice two physicians gave me: N ever go to bed stuffed, and eat only 80 percent of what you intend to consume at eve
Socialize and have fun
. We Americans specialize in stress, with little understanding of how to have fun. We need more time to socialize, celebrate and laugh! Some of us have walls around us that keep other people away. As humans, though, we need to be engaged and to be social. Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the United Nations, once stated that every time we lose an elder from our village, we lose a library. If we begin to think of everyone as a library, it becomes
Develop your spirituality
. Evidence continues to emerge that prayer is a health promoting behavior and that attendance at formalized places of worship may have more significance to our health than we understand. Meditation, yoga, relaxation procedures and prayer have neurophysiological bases. They help to alter our existing homeostasis for the better. Praying or meditating daily can help us combat the stresses of life and focus on the challenges ahead.
Engage in mentally stimulating activities
. Mental stimulation refers to the ways our brains respond to stimuli in the environment. Novel and complex stimuli are health promoting for the brain. New learning translates to neurophysiological growth and to mental stimulation in the same way that aerobics translates to cardiovascular health. We can benefit from being challenged, from learning information and skills that we do not yet understand, and from engaging in pursuits that are initially
Maintain your role and sense of purpose
. Retirement as it is presently envisioned in this country is not good for the human brain, which benefits from environments rich in novel and complex stimuli. Retirement by definition reinforces disengagement and passivity. Our nation might consider prioritizing social engagement across the lifespan from a brain health perspective. Although it is important to allow elders to choose more passive lifestyles, many may benefit from an understanding of
Seek financial stability
. Research clearly demonstrates that having some money late in life correlates with better health. Therefore, a practical tip for maintaining lifelong health is to hire a financial planner and begin a savings plan that will provide some money late in life. Financial planners do not consider themselves to be health promoters, but they are. We are never too young or too old to begin saving, and the less money we make the faster we need to get started
Engage family and friends
. Developing and maintaining a social network of relationships is important from a health perspective. Our friends and family help us stay active and involved in the fabric of society. They can provide us with emotional support and can nurture trust. Our roles in life, from child to parent to grandparent, exist within the family; they provide much health and human enrichment across the lifespan. And intimacy, broadly defined, is itself a health pro
Engage Yourself in the Complex and Novel
. Learning new information and skills across your entire lifespan helps to keep your brain strong even in the later years of life. Activities that have the highest value for brain health are those that are novel and complex to each particular person. What is easy for one person may be challenging for another, so the things that challenge you the most have the most value for your brain. It is the novel and complex that will challenge the brain, stim
Be Health Conscious
. It is important for us to take control of our health and understand that we are in charge of managing of our bodies. Physicians work for us, and when it comes to our bodies we are the boss. Once we establish our own role in the management of our health, the importance of a close and trusting relationship with our physician becomes apparent. Open communication can help the physician make sound decisions regarding our health. A team approach can he
Slow Down and Appreciate the Silence
. Our society is evolving at an increasing rate, leaving us with little time to relax and process our environment. Our brains require time to process information more deeply, in order to gain more benefit from our daily experiences. The implications of a fast paced lifestyle are chronic stress and other negative effects on our health and well being. Reducing demands we place on ourselves is an important step towards stress reduction, and a more ful
Do Not Retire from Life
. Maintaining a strong sense of purpose in life is an important contributor to longevity. Making a conscious decision to stay actively involved in your daily routine is beneficial to your lifelong health and well being. Positive attitude has been shown to play a significant role in success, as well as your ability to recover from illness. It is important to develop multiple skills and interests over your lifespan, as we have the ability to learn an
Reduce and Eliminate Smoking Drinking and other Drugs
. Mood altering substances, such as drugs and cigarettes, can decrease our functioning, lower our motivation, and impair our cognitive processes. They alter our emotions, which impairs our thinking by reducing focus, attention, memory, and our ability to execute plans. Smoking is one of the leading causes of over a dozen cancers, including lung, oral, stomach, and liver cancer. Not to mention it stains our fingers, teeth and hair, and leaves us wit
Set Financial Goals
. A well developed plan for financial security is a great way to stimulate your Executive Functions (responsible for complex activity like organization, scheduling, impulse control, and more). Keeping track of your expenses, and being aware of where your money is going, helps you feel more in control of your financial situation. No matter what expenses you have, set aside 5% a month for yourselfyou will thank yourself later!
Adopt a Nutrient Rich Diet
. Over consumption of high calorie food is a major issue for modern society. Understanding why we eat and what we eat is one of the most critical influences on our health and longevity. Brain health promoting food includes Omega 3 fatty acids found in foods such as fish, flax seed, and nuts. Foods with naturally occurring Vitamin E and Vitamin C have an antioxidant effect. Folate may also help to reduce the risk of some neurodegenerative illnesses
Maintain Strong Connections
. Our ability to communicate and interact with others is critical to maintaining strong connections. Isolation has been shown to reduce our overall health. Research demonstrates the importance of a social network in reducing the risk of dementia. Our ability to continually develop relations and sustain them across our lifespan represents significant health promoting behaviors, such as stress reduction, new learning, and emotional expression.
. Regular mental challenges force you to think. Use it, or youll lose it, says Constantine Lyketsos, Ph.D., professor at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. When connections between neurons are reinforced, theyre easier to use, says Liebeskind.
Protect Your Ticker
. People with the highest risk for heart diseaseeven as young as age 35scored 50 percent worse on cognitive tests than people with the lowest risk, a 2013 study in Stroke found.
. Working non stop can cause your brain to become exhausted. But walking outdoors, even for a brief amount of time, can help your brain recover, says Jenny Roe, Ph.D., an environmental psychologist at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, and author of a 2013 study that found a walk in a tree filled park or leafy courtyard may ease stress.
. When Boston University researchers autopsied the brains of 85 athletes (high schoolers included) with histories of concussions, 80 percent showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E), a degenerative brain disease. Thats a scary stat considering half of high school footballers surveyed in a different 2012 study said theyd felt concussion symptoms in the past, but hadnt reported them.
Switch Up Your News Source
. Slave to the local news every a.m.? Youre neglecting an active reading scheduleand a whole part of your brain, says Allen Sills, M.D., associate professor of neurological surgery at Vanderbilt University. When you read, you develop concentration, which is crucial for healthy aging.
Know Whats Normal Memory Loss
. Systems like the hippocampuscrucial for memoryage faster than other brain parts. Worried? Compare yourself to others your age. Dont remember where you parked, but everyone else is walking to the car? That may be a problem, says Coslett. But if youand all of your friends your agehave to write down a phone number, dont worry.
Move to Remember More
. University of British Columbia researchers found that twice weekly resistance training boosts your ability to make accurate decisions quickly. Focus on your form and your faults instead of intensitybrain building comes from concentrating on what your bodys doing, says Gary Small, M.D., director of the UCLA Longevity Center and coauthor of The Alzheimers Prevention Program. When dementia hits, your weaker skills go first, so fixing what youre doin
Ward off Depression
. Mood disorders can be the result of chemical imbalance in the brain, says Sills. If youre no longer interested in things you used to love, ask a buddy if he has noticed a change. If he has, see a doclosing interest in your hobbies is a major sign of clinical depression. An at home remedy? Exercise, which helps balance the chemical cocktail. Its the poor mans Prozac, says Sills. (Follow our 100 Best Fitness Tips to learn how to stick with your wor
Teach your brain new tricks
. Your brain loves novelty and variety. Keep your brain stimulated through mentally engaging activities because learning helps build new neural connections, even in adults. Sites like Anti AgingGames.com feature brain stimulation games and there are many things offline that you can do to engage your brain: play chess or bridge, learn a new instrument or language or complicated dance. You dont even have to be good at the activity. The best learn
Eat more colorfully
. The diet that has been most strongly connected to the best health benefits is the Mediterranean Diet. Researchers determined that people who followed the Mediterranean Diet most closely were 36% less likely to have stroke related brain damage and 28% less mild cognitive impairment compared to those who followed the diet least closely. Even those who only moderately followed the diet had a 21% lower risk of brain damage and 17% less mild cogniti
Kick back and relax
. Too much stress can actually rewire the brain, impairing memory and decision making capabilities, increasing anxiety and reducing the ability to regulate mood. Thats because chronic stress causes an increase of certain brain chemicals and hormones, like cortisol, that in large quantities can negatively affect parts of the brain that are essential to memory. Find something you enjoy that helps you relax, like a hobby, reading a book or doing yoga.
Partner with your doctor
. Consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or exercise regime because changes, including supplements and foods may interfere with your medicines or aggravate certain conditions. For example, one study suggested that eating broccoli and cauliflower twice per week was linked to at least 20% less cancer (for some types of cancer) but both broccoli and cauliflower may not be good for some people with thyroid problems. Its not eno