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Effective Brain Health Strategies

We’ve all experienced losing something, looking everywhere, only to find it in a completely unrelated place.  Forgetfulness or something more serious?  I know I’ve experienced this concern.  If you look online, there are plenty of nutritional supplements that claim to strengthen brain health, but are they legitimate?

Many trusted organizations have practical recommendations to try first.  Consumer Reports On Health suggests ruling out physical factors with your doctor. Depression, medications including sleeping pills, vitamin deficiencies, alcohol consumption, hearing loss, thyroid, kidney or liver-related illnesses can effect memory. * Candid conversations and testing with your physician can help rule out these causes.

In addition you can support brain health with other actions:

  1. Exercise regularly. Sedentary lifestyles can increase your risk for cognitive issues as you age. Regular exercise increases the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought. ** Exercise also improves blood pressure, mood, cholesterol levels, heart-health and weight which all impact brain health.  According to all.org (Alzheimer’s Association), engaging in physical activities that promote balance and strength as you age can help prevent falls which can often contribute to head and therefore, brain injuries.
  2. Improved nutrition and food choices can help.  Reducing processed foods which can improve salt, sugar and saturated fat consumption helps your body work more efficiently.  According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a Mediterranean diet may help reduce risks of cognitive decline with its healthy fats, increased vegetables and balanced proteins and whole grains.
  3. Avoid smoking and drink in moderation.  According to ScienceDaily.com, new research suggests a link between cigarette smoking and brain damage. A compound in tobacco provokes white blood cells in the central nervous system to attack healthy cells, leading to severe neurological damage.  Excessive drinking is a major risk factors for dementia.
  4. Get adequate amounts of sleep.  Create an environment that promotes restful sleep without sleeping pills by keeping electronics such as phones, email and devices out of your bedroom.
  5. Remain social as you age. Having face-to-face contact with others and staying interactive in social settings is positive emotionally and physically for your body.
  6. Use mental stimulation to ‘exercise’ your brain muscle.  Reading, taking courses, crosswords, Sudoku, card games, tutoring younger kids, painting, and other creative hobbies all keep your  brain engaged and reduce cell loss.

It’s helpful to know that there are relatively easy opportunities you have to support your brain health and longevity.  

*Consumer Reports On Health- March 2017

**Health.Harvard.edu/mind-and-mood

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