HOW TO BOOST YOUR BRAIN HEALTH
As Hollywood actor Chris Hemsworth announces he is taking a break from acting after learning he has a heightened risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a neuroscientist shares her expert advice.
Neuroscientist and Five Lives Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Jenny Barnett explains:
“Research shows that 40% of dementia cases could actually be avoided – so it’s worth keeping our brains in good condition for the sake of our health. It’s crucial to take action early on to set yourself up for healthy brain ageing and manage your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Making positive lifestyle changes doesn’t have to be complicated – and can help protect your brain no matter your genetic background”.
Dr. Barnett shares 10 tips for better brain health…
Take a daily morning sunbath
Getting in the sun first thing in the morning is a great way to set your circadian rhythm right. Moreover, staying in the sun will allow your system to synthesise Vitamin D which is great for your immune system and other functions of your body.
Top tip – try to set yourself a goal of getting 5-15 minutes of sunlight every two days, by sitting outside reading a book with your coffee for instance, or having a morning walk in the park.
Own the outdoors
Getting out in nature can have a positive impact on your mental health and has been associated with reduced depressive symptoms in adults. Recent studies have also suggested that spending time outdoors could lead to some structural changes in your brain which could positively impact your cognitive functions.
Top tip – try to plan a trip to the forest this month or get out in your local park for a walk, listen to the sound of the birds and let nature do the rest.
Opt for oily fish
Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role for your central nervous system functioning, and it has been shown that omega-3 can have a protective function against inflammatory diseases, such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
Top tip – try getting your brain-loving omega-3 hit with two portions of salmon, mackerel or herring every week. Vegan? Consider an algae-based daily supplement.
Focus on fun with friends
Staying socially active is like exercise for the brain and has been linked with maintaining better brain function, sharpening memory and reducing dementia risk. On the flip side, a higher degree of loneliness and decreased social networks appear to be related to higher dementia risk.
Top tip – try to make time every week for friends and family – even if it’s just an hour phone call at the end of your week.
Take the stairs
The next time you’re faced with the choice of taking the lift or escalator, try taking the stairs instead. It’s a great way to incorporate more movement into your day naturally.
Cut caffeine after 3pm
Quality sleep is vital for brain health, but consuming caffeine just a few hours before bed can negatively impact your sleep.
Top tip – try to avoid caffeine 5-6 hours before bed to let your body wind down.
Walk the talk
Incidental exercise is one of the best ways to move more – and brisk walking is great aerobic exercise, which increases the growth of blood vessels in the regions of the brain where new neurons are formed.
Top tip – got a day full of work calls? Instead of sitting, walk while you talk.
Get lost in a book
Reading regularly is not only great for you to unwind and learn fancy words, but it is a fantastic way to keep your brain engaged when you grow older and reading every day can help improve or maintain your cognitive functions.
Top tip – dedicate 30 minutes every day to light reading.
Ditch your devices for better sleep
Studies show that limiting your smartphone screen time before bed can significantly improve sleep quality and working memory.
Top tip – try to put your phone away at least 30-60 minutes before bed so you can get a good night’s sleep.
Finding a moment to meditate or take a brain break during the day can give you a sense of calm and balance which is great for your emotional well-being and your health in general.
Top tip – there are plenty of free meditation apps out there that can guide you, and even 15 minutes a day can make a big difference.
With thanks to www.FIVELIVES.health, the team behind the award-winning brain training app Peak, Five Lives is the leading solution to improving brain health