In many ways, your brain is a lot more important than your physical body. It’s where you live. It’s what makes you, you. If you forget who you are it will be difficult to continue your way of life.
While there are genetic components to brain diseases there are also lifestyle considerations that put you at higher risk to develop issues with your brain. The following will give you an overview of issues, ways to improve your brain health, and ways to train your brain to work better.
ISSUES WITH BRAIN HEALTH
If you have issues with remembering as well as you used to, it isn’t always due to your age. Sometimes it’s due to letting your brain health slide. Medications and lifestyle play an important role in many conditions including those of the brain.
DEMENTIA & ALZHEIMER’S
Research is showing that just like your heart can get clogged due to poor diet, in many ways so can your brain. Your brain has a lot of veins that are just as affected by plaque in the arteries that lead to your heart. In fact, 80 percent of the people with one of these conditions also have a cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease.
MEMORY FOG & CONFUSION
If you are having issues with memory lately there could be a good reason. It could be medications, diet, or other lifestyle issues. This is more than forgetting where you parked your car. This is a prolonged and repeated issue that others notice about you where you cannot focus, remember facts that you normally would, and you feel confused. While they don’t have as many tests for this type of issue, if you’ve experienced it, you know what it feels like. Thankfully, there are ways to get better.
These and other brain conditions can sometimes be genetic, in which case there may not be much you can do to end it. However, most of the time genetic causes are about 3 percent of all illness. So, if you can at least try some techniques to improve or prevent why not?
WAYS TO IMPROVE BRAIN HEALTH
Improving your brain health can be as easy as remembering to drink enough water and get enough sleep, but it can also be trickier. You may need to experiment with different diets and things to find out what works best for your needs.
Avoid Drugs – While you may need to take certain drugs your doctor wants to give you, there are some that are worse on memory and brain function than others. Read the information that comes with any drug that your doctor wants to prescribe and if you can do without it by changing your diet do that instead. And, it goes without saying that illegal drugs and legal marijuana can exacerbate memory problems.
Drink Less – No, not water, but alcohol. It’s nice to believe that a glass of wine each night will make us healthier but it’s just not true. You can get the benefits of grapes by eating grapes which are a lot healthier. Unfortunately, alcohol can mess up your sleep patterns and badly affect your memory and brain.
Eat Turmeric – Also called curcumin, studies in the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology has shown that the compounds in turmeric are beneficial to brain health. Turmeric helps deal with inflammation and since most disease is caused by inflammation of some kind that’s why it helps.
Exercise – Keeping your blood running smoothly through your vascular system is a good way to keep your brain healthy. Heart healthy exercises like 20 to 30 minutes of cardio a day will help you stay healthy and improve brain function just like it does the body’s cardiovascular system.
Eat Right – While this idea is often in the eye of the beholder, studies show that a whole foods diet is best for the human body. Eating as close to nature as possible while avoiding processed food will help you become healthier in all ways. Avoid sweet, high carb empty calories, especially at lunchtime and you’ll help end your midday slump too.
Stay Hydrated – As we age sometimes it’s tempting to avoid drinking too much liquid if we don’t know where the bathroom is. However, this is counterproductive for your kidneys and your health. Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day to avoid problems with dehydration which can include confusion and memory fog.
Sleep Enough – Many people, as they get older, start having issues sleeping at night. One reason today may be not getting enough sunshine, too much screen time, and too much stimulation at night including eating too close to bedtime. Try setting up your day so that you have plenty of quiet time, avoid computer screens after a certain time, and eat dinner at least a couple hours prior to bedtime.
Incorporating these small things into your day will make a big difference in your memory and chances of developing problems with your brain health. Next, let’s talk about ways to train your brain.
WAYS TO TRAIN YOUR BRAIN
You really can train your brain to remember better and perform better. But, like your muscles, if you don’t use it, you can lose it. Unlike your muscles, it can take longer for the brain to repair itself when it’s been neglected. That’s why plenty of stimulation is necessary to keep up with your potential.
You can buy a game or you can make one. It’s easy. Stick a picture of a dog on a 3×5 card, and write the word Dog on another 3×5 card. Do this for numerous things up to 100 if you want to. Turn the cards face down and then you get to turn one over.
After you turn one over, turn another over. The goal is to match the word with the picture and remember where they are. If no match is made, turn the cards back over for the next person to go. You can also play the game alone.
Learn a New Language
You can go to a class to learn a new language or you can get a software program. However you choose to do it, take the time each day to practice the new words you’re learning. As you learn new words your brain makes new connections and your cognitive abilities will improve as you learn.
One really fun software to use for this is called: DuoLingo.com. It works on your PC or your mobile device. You set it up to remind you to learn for a certain amount of time each day.
Every newspaper around has a puzzle in it. Work them each day and every Sunday. Even if you have to get out the dictionary and/or Google for every single thing you’ll still improve the synapses in your brain over time. Picture puzzles are also good because it takes a good eye to find the parts to fit together.
Draw Maps from Memory
Just for fun take up doodling. For example, draw a map of the street you lived on as a child. Draw a map to your home. Try drawing a map to the grocery store or the doctor. These types of activities, even if you’re not that great at it, will help improve your memory.
Write Your Memoirs
You don’t ever have to publish it if you don’t want to, but a great thing to do for yourself and your family is to write your memoirs. This not only will help you remember more of your life, but it will help work your memory so that you have a better memory for what’s happening today, too. It’s amazing how much more you’ll remember when you start writing it down.
Take a Cooking Class
It’s okay if you already know how to cook well. Find a class that is about a new form of cooking than you normally do. For example, if you are learning French why not find a French cooking class? If you normally bake one dish meals find a cooking class that teaches gourmet meals. You’ll learn about new words, history, new terminology, and make friends too.
While you don’t want to become too sedentary doing this, playing some mind games on Lumosity.com, might help you a lot. Many people report having more memory using their games a few minutes each day.
Enroll in Voice Lessons
Singing is something most people want to do and can do if they take lessons and learn how to do it. Unless you’re tone deaf you can learn some songs. Learning songs will help improve your memory exponentially. Studies have shown playing music for Alzheimer’s patients from their younger days brings back a lot of memories for them.
Movement is always a good thing for all parts of your body. But, learning new dance steps is especially beneficial because learning new things makes your brain work better. It’ll help keep your mind and body connected and help prevent falls later in life if you keep moving with choreography to remember.
The fact is, being a shut-in is not good for anyone. It’s important to be around other people, to have enlightening conversations, even arguments to keep the brain functioning at its highest levels. Join a card game, a book club, a gardening club – anything to help you develop an active social life.
Hopefully, you can see the connection here to your overall health and brain health. Pay attention to your health in every way. Diet and exercise, cognitive activities and social activities all play a vital role in ensuring your continued good brain health.