Your brain and body experience changes as you grow older. However, that doesn’t mean you have to let your brain decline and accept the risk of developing cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, there are many natural ways to protect the brain that you can easily incorporate into your life. Here are six things you can start doing today to protect your brain health:
Most people will be glad to find out some caffeine is great for your brain. If you’re one of them, make it a point to have a cup or two of it in the morning — we highly recommend picking a herbal tea to get your fix.
The two main components in herbal tea — caffeine and antioxidants — can help support brain health. Herbal teas are a great and relaxing way of gaining healthier brains and preventing cognitive decline. Bacopa Monnieri in particular is an effective choice, as it contains not just caffeine, but also polyphenols and bacosides.
These nutrients create many benefits for your brain, such as:
Sleep also plays an important role in your cognitive health. It’s used to consolidate new memories and information, which is key to your long-term memory and brain health. You should be getting at least seven uninterrupted hours of sleep every night. This gives your brain enough time to store your memories effectively.
New studies show another function of sleep that is important for our health. In sleep, our brain clears out toxins called beta-amyloids. If these toxins aren’t cleared out, you are at risk of various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.
Consuming too much alcohol and smoking too many cigarettes is harmful to parts of your body, including your brain. This is caused by their neurotoxic effects on the brain, which can damage your hippocampus. These vices can negatively impact your memory and information processing functions.
Studies on binge drinking show that those who consumed six or more drinks within a short period had difficulties in immediate and delayed memory-recall tests.
A 12-year study on smokers found that middle-aged smokers experienced a rapid cognitive decline when compared to non-smokers. A different study found that smokers were 30% more likely to develop dementia.
While indulging in your vices every now and again may not affect your body too much in the long run, avoiding excessive use is a good way to protect your brain health.
When you’re under a lot of stress, your brain produces a hormone called cortisol. This can have damaging effects — especially for older adults. Knowing this, it’s best for people who are experiencing daily stress to learn ways to cope with it.
One of the best and scientifically proven ways to bring your brain back to a calm state is practicing mindfulness. This is where you take a few minutes to stop and focus on your present while staying aware of your surroundings and feelings. Mindfulness is a mental habit you can use in any situation — at home, work, or even on the go.
Research has shown that this practice is very effective at reducing stress and improving memory and concentration. One showed that those who practiced mindfulness experienced improved recognition-memory performance when recalling objects. Another report linked this practice with a lower risk of cognitive decline and overall improvement in brain health.
Like mindfulness, meditation is a great practice that can positively affect many aspects of health — including brain health. Many people think it is merely a way to relax and soothe your body, but it has been found to have many physiological benefits as well.
Research shows it can reduce the physical effects of stress and pain, lower blood pressure, and even improve brain function. Another study reported that those who practiced meditation had larger amounts of gray matter in their brains. This substance is an indicator of more neuron cell bodies and improves memory and cognition.
Another study found that short and daily meditation sessions improved short-term memory in respondents of all ages — even the elderly.
Movement is great for your body — your heart, muscles, lungs, and brain all benefit from improved blood flow, healthier weight, hormone production, among other effects of exercise. But when you’re out and about, take care to avoid head injuries.
Evidence shows that even moderate injuries can cause long-term effects on your brain. In fact, people who experienced head injuries in their youth are at greater risk of dementia later in life.
While every brain changes with age, cognitive impairment is entirely avoidable. Use these six natural ways to protect the brain to avoid mental decline. From drinking tea to practicing mindfulness, these are just a few simple habits you can add to your daily routine to boost your health and keep your brain in top condition — even in old age.