10 Habits for A Healthy Brain

Mental Health

Dr. Michela Sorensen

Just as our body changes with age, our brain does too. “Cognitive decline” is the term used to describe these expected age related brain changes.  It is important to differentiate this from “Dementia”, which refers to changes in thinking and memory that are beyond what is expected for age, to the extent that they are severe enough to impact on a person’s day to day life.  

While we don’t have a cure for dementia, we do know there some simple things people can do to support their brain health, slowing the rate of cognitive decline and also reducing their risk of developing dementia by up to 40%. 

Here are ten simple steps to support a healthy brain. 

  1. Don’t smoke. Not smoking, or quitting, is one of the most important things you can do for your brain health (as well as for the rest of your body). Smoking is one of the leading risk factors for a range of cancers, lifestyle diseases and dementia. Remember, every smoke-free day counts - it is never too late to stop.  

  1. Challenge your mind. Your brain is like any other muscle, you need to use it or lose it. Put your brain to work by doing things like puzzles, crosswords, sudoku, reading, or even something artistic. Another idea is to learn a new skill or hobby. These keep your brain active and working. 

  1. Keep active. Remaining physically active helps reduce cognitive decline and lowers your risk of dementia. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and encourages the development of new nerve cells and connections between the cells in the brain. 

  1. Keep your blood pressure under control. High blood pressure increases the risk of cognitive decline. Make sure you get your blood pressure checked regularly. 

  1. Improve your cholesterol. High levels of “bad cholesterols” (LDL) is linked with cognitive decline. Diet and exercise are a good place to start in keeping your cholesterol in check. In some cases, medication may be needed too. 

  1. Improve your blood sugar levels. Diabetes is an important risk factor for dementia. You can reduce your risk by eating well and maintaining a healthy weight. If you do have diabetes, make sure you are monitoring your sugar levels regularly. 

  1. Get enough sleep. Sleep plays an important role in your brain health. Sleep is a time of repair and restoration, a time when your brain clears abnormal proteins and consolidates memories. 

  1. Look after your mental health. Mental health and physical health are intimately connected, so looking after your mental health plays an important role in your brain health. 

  1. Protect your head. Head injuries, even repeated minor knocks, can significantly increase a person’s risk of dementia later in life. Always wear a helmet on a bike and consider head protection in sports.  

  1. Stay engaged. Staying socially connected is an important part of brain health. It supports mental well-being, stimulates brain function and enhances overall brain health. 

Dr Michela Sorensen

Please note: Dr Michela's blogaura's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic, please consult your healthcare professional.

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