Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Brain Fitness to Live Longer

 Brain Fitness

Exercise

Exercise boosts blood flow to your brain by promoting the development of more blood vessels and connections between brain cells. Exercise also increases the production of new brain cells for learning and remembering. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that exercise can double or even triple the number of new cells, compared with the number in animals that do not exercise. If you wish to maintain your learning and remembering skills, exercise your body.

Regular endurance exercise, such as running, swimming, or biking, can also foster new brain cell growth and preserve existing brain cells. Build your physical endurance.

Strength training, such as lifting weights or using a resistance band, not only builds muscle and strengthens bone; but also boosts brain power, improves mood, enhances concentration, and increases decision-making skills. Build your physical strength.

Your flexibility gradually declines with age. Better flexibility means more energy, improved posture, and reduced risk of injury from falls. Build your flexibility with Tai chi, yoga, and stretching exercise.

Body balance diminishes progressively as you get older. Balance training is not just about avoiding falls. Better balance will improve your overall movement and your ability to do things better throughout your life. Build your body balance by standing on one foot or walking backward.

Diet

Eating foods high in saturated fats, like red meat, butter and dairy products, are associated with the development of degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Fish is a great source of omega-3, the type of fatty acid your body cannot produce, and it is good for your brain. To get your omega-3, eat salmon, cod, haddock, tuna, halibut, and sardines. If you don’t like fish, then eat plenty of walnuts, flaxseeds, and soybeans instead.

Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, are loaded with nutrients good for the brain. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are packed with antioxidants that slow down aging in the brain.

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are also strong antioxidants that potentially improve blood flow to the brain and reduce inflammation. Unsweetened cocoa powder is another excellent option. 

Many herbs and spices, such as turmeric, cinnamon and ginger, are packed with antioxidants that may decrease harmful inflammation in the brain. Use these  strong flavors in your cooking.

Whole grains, such as oats, barley, and quinoa, are rich in many of the B vitamins that work to reduce inflammation of the brain to prevent memory loss.

The protein and vitamins B, D and E in eggs and egg yolks may help improve memory. You can reap the benefits of these vitamins while keeping your cholesterol to a minimum by mixing whole eggs with egg whites to round out your omelet or scrambled eggs.

Music

According to some scientific research, music has the capacity and capability to change your neuron activity. Music therapists believe that the different sounds from different musical instruments have different impact on different body organs in the physical body. Scientists have used MP3 music and subliminal messages for practicing hypnosis to awaken the subconscious mind to improve memory, to enhance learning, to heal sleep problems, and to increase self-confidence, just to name a few possibilities. Music has to do with sound, which is one of the important sensory skills for maintaining good memory. In general, music listening and playing improves your concentration and brain power.

Brain reserve

Humans have “brain reserve,” which helps the human brain adapt and respond to changes and resist damage. Your brain reserve begins to develop in childhood and gets stronger as you move through adulthood. People who continue to learn, embrace new activities, and develop new skills and interests are building and improving their brain reserve. Therefore, it is important to keep on learning new things to preserve the brain reserve.

Learning

Get yourself educated. It can substantially increase your ability to fight off dementia. The same is true of working at a challenging job. So, go back to school, take classes, get a degree or an advanced degree. You are never too old to learn, and your brain will thank you in the long run.

Playing

Do crossword puzzles, play chess, mahjong, card games, or online games. These activities can stimulate the brain. Playing electronic “brain games” may help you improve your reaction time and problem-solving ability. It is important to find one that you will want to continue to play.

Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, professor of clinical psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, has recommended seven daily essential mental activities to optimize brain health and creativity.

Focusing on daily challenges helps your brain make some deep connections.
Playing creatively and joyfully helps your brain make new connections.
Connecting with nature and others daily helps your brain reinforce its relational circuitry.
Moving aerobically helps your brain strengthen its brain cells.
Reflecting internally, and focusing on sensations, feelings, thoughts, and images, help your brain integrate better.
Relaxing without any mental focus helps your brain recharge.
Sleeping restfully helps your brain consolidate and recover from the experiences of the day.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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