The human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons. Because of its complexity, understanding the brain in health pathology is a challenge facing scientists across the globe. According to new research, one new case of dementia is detected every four seconds worldwide. Scientists predict more than 115 million people globally will have dementia by the year 2050.
But while the complexities of the brain remain a mystery, there are things you can do to protect it and help to reduce future decline.
1. Stimulate your brain
Any activity that challenges your brain helps to stimulate new connections between nerve cells. It might even help your brain generate new cells. Learn a new language, get the puzzle book out, and give things that require dexterity a go, such as painting or crafts.
2. Physical exercise
Exercise has many benefits, but in terms of brain health, it actually helps protect the brain’s thinking skills and memory. Researchers at the University of British Colombia found aerobic exercise appeared to boost the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning. Other types of exercise that didn’t get the heart pumping, such as balance or toning, did not get the same results.
So not only does exercise improve mood, sleep, help with weight loss, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, it also helps the area of your brain that controls thinking and memory. Walking for an hour a day, riding a bike or swimming is enough to improve your neuron connections.
3. Good nutrition
The brain needs about 20 to 30% of the calories you consume to run efficiently, but making sure it’s getting the right kind of food can have a massive impact. Numerous studies have found compounds like Omega-3 fatty acids DHA, antioxidants, flavanols, polyphenols, vitamins and nutrients, such as folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 found naturally in food can help protect your brain.
4. Quit smoking and reduce alcohol
You probably don’t need a reminder about all the negative side effects of smoking, but did you know it also impacts your brain? Any sort of mood-altering substances such as alcohol and cigarettes can impair our cognitive processes, lower motivation, alter emotions and decrease our functioning. As a result, our brain loses some of its ability for memory, attention and executing plans. So put down the cigarette and switch to water after that second drink.
5. Get social
Studies show that people with the most social interaction in their community experience the slowest rate of memory decline. Staying connected with people helps to enhance intellectual stimulation, reduce stress, and combat depression.
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6. Look after your mental health
Happy thoughts and positive thinking matter more to your brain than you might realize. When you switch from negative thinking to positive thinking, a light goes on in your brain. Being happy improves cognitive thought and increases mental productivity. It also helps to rapidly increase brain cells and reduce anxiety and stress.