Boost Your Brain with These Healthy Foods and Habits

Your brain is the most complex organ in your body. Think about it: it’s the control center for your personality, memory, interests and thoughts.

While some older adults may be concerned about keeping their minds young, everyone should be thinking about brain health – research shows cognitive decline can begin as early as age 24, and neglecting your brain over a lifetime can increase your risk of dementia and stroke. Whether you’re a college student or an adult worried about your memory, use these tips to keep your thinking cap in shape as you age:

Incorporate brain-boosting foods into your diet

Your brain needs the correct fuel to keep itself protected and healthy. Opt for these brain foods on your next trip to the grocery store:

  • Blueberries: This superfood is packed with antioxidants that can prevent or delay cell damage in the brain. They also decrease inflammation and improve communication between brain cells, which boosts learning and motor skills.
  • Salmon: Omega-3 oils in salmon and other fatty fish with healthy oils are great for building brain and nerve cells, which keeps your memory intact.
  • Broccoli: Not only is this vegetable packed with antioxidants, but it’s also high in Vitamin K, choline and folic acid, which can strengthen cognitive ability and lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Dark chocolate: Taking care of your brain can also mean treating yourself. Dark chocolate has been shown to decrease stress and increase blood flow to the brain, which boosts memory and attention span.
  • Nuts: Healthy fats, antioxidants and Vitamin E in nuts make them good for your heart health, which is directly linked to brain health.

Get moving

Research shows exercise may lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and slow brain aging by up to 10 years. Aerobic exercise such as running, walking or swimming can improve memory by increasing blood flow to the brain, so start to get into the habit of exercising even for fifteen minutes a day.

Take sleep seriously

Sleep helps the brain clear toxins, repair itself, and creates memories. Try to get into a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day so your body will naturally know when it’s time to sleep. Before bed, turn off all electronics to at least 30 minutes before you sleep to limit light stimulation.

Practice self-care

The fight-or-flight reaction generated by stress leads to an increased heart rate and the buildup of hormones in the brain that can lead to cognitive decline. To show your brain some love, go for a walk, be creative, unplug from technology, journal, meditate and spend time with friends to both lower stress levels and boost your brain activity.

Stay engaged

Reading, playing brain games and staying socially engaged will help your brain form new connections and reinforce existing ones. It’s easy to let yourself zone out, especially when you’re tempted to scroll through social media or binge-watch a show, but section out some time every day to engage with an activity that involves your conscious effort. Your brain will thank you!

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Photo credit: Hey Paul Studios

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  1. I have been eating a lot of snail salad recently in addition to items listed in this article. Snails are a super-food.

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