7 smart habits for better brain health
Mind these tips to help keep your gray matter at its best
Your brain is a vital and multitalented marvel. You may not think of it as something you need to care for specifically. But there’s growing evidence that daily habits may help keep it healthy.
It’s not too early — or late
No matter your age, here are seven wise behaviors. Together, they can help boost and protect your brainpower — and may mean a healthier and happier future for you.
- Eat food for thought. Like your heart, your brain benefits from foods rich in nutrients. Enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and unsalted nuts.
Want a specific diet for both better heart and brain health? Consider one of these sound options: the DASH eating plan and the Mediterranean diet.
Bonus brainy fact: Omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in brain health. Good food sources include salmon, walnuts and flaxseed oil.
- Pump it up. Aerobic activity gets your heart pumping.* That sends more nourishing blood throughout the body, including to your head. This may benefit brain cells — and help preserve thinking skills as we age.
- Know your numbers. Health conditions that harm your heart may also raise your risk for dementia. These include high cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Talk with your doctor about what your numbers should be and how you can get there.**
- Keep it fired up. Be a lifelong learner. Enroll in a class at your community college. Explore a new language, craft or artistic skill. Engage your mind with crosswords or jigsaw puzzles.
Bonus brainy fact: Regularly challenging your mind may provide short- and long-term benefits for your brainpower.
- Get your ZZZs, please. Sleep gives your brain time to repair and restore itself. If your brain doesn’t get enough rest, that can mess with your memory and thinking skills. Talk with your doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping or don’t wake up feeling refreshed.
- Connect with others. Social interaction may help keep your brain sharp and fend off cognitive decline. Nurture old friendships — and seek new ones. Consider joining a book club or walking group. Volunteer at a local animal shelter or after-school program.
- Protect your precious noggin. A brain injury can raise the risk of thinking problems and dementia. Use your head — be sure to:
- Buckle up your safety belt
- Wear a helmet for cycling and contact sports
- Take steps to prevent falls
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*Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.
**Check with your benefit plan to make sure your testing is covered. Blood work and lab tests may not be covered under the preventive care benefit.