The New York Times recently declared that the “next frontier is inside your brain.” Scientists have made huge advancements is brain science over the last few years, and they are making more discoveries every day. As we age, it becomes important to understand the new science around the brain and the role we playing in helping to maintain proper brain function.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and it’s estimated that 5.7 million Americans live with the disease. It’s one of the countries silent killers. In fact, Alzheimer’s kills more people than pancreatic and breast cancer combined. The major factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s are: diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease and various sleep conditions.
To maintain your brain’s health, you need to exercise both your body and your brain. The brain needs a workout just like your muscles and heart. If you don’t stimulate the brain, it atrophies like any other muscle.
Ways to maintain brain health
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you do 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. The exercises can vary. You can take a brisk, 30-minute walk a few times a week or swim in a pool. Besides exercise, the agency recommends weight and strength training. Several times a week you should do multiple sets of 10-15. The amount of weight doesn’t matter, but you need some form of resistance to build muscle strength.
Your brain needs proper fuel, and that means eating a proper diet. A recent study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found a correlation between the Mediterranean diet, and higher scores on cognitive tests. The Meditation diet centers around fruits and vegetables and mostly fish for protein. The diet avoids sugar and red meat. In fact, scientists have discovered a link between sugar consumption and Alzheimer disease. Eat well. Your brain will thank you.
Humans are social creatures. We need to interact with other people and have meaningful conversations. That can be challenging in the age of social media, but as you age, you need to make an effort to interact with other people. You can join a club or volunteer your time. You have to find ways to stimulate the brain through social interaction.
Besides stimulating the brain through social interaction, the brain also needs mental exercise. You must workout the areas of the brain that solve problems. You might consider doing a daily crossword or Sudoku puzzle. Also, you can try using your non-natural hand and write. Some people like to record their dreams or keep a log of daily activities. Art classes are always a great way to exercise the brain and your creativity.