Maintaining a healthy brain is vital for overall well-being and longevity. With the prevalence of cognitive decline and dementia on the rise, it’s crucial to adopt lifestyle habits that promote brain health. In collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association, we have compiled a list of 10 ways to love your brain and keep it in optimal condition. Additionally, we’ll share a delicious recipe and highlight some supplements that can further support your cognitive well-being.
1. Hit The Books: Engaging in lifelong learning and mental stimulation is a great way to reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Enroll in a class at a local college or community center, or take advantage of online courses to explore new subjects and keep your brain active.
2. Butt Out: Smoking is detrimental to both your physical and cognitive health. Studies have shown that quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of cognitive decline, bringing it on par with those who have never smoked.
3. Follow Your Heart: Risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, can negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart by adopting a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
4. Heads Up: Protecting your brain from injury is crucial for maintaining cognitive function. Always wear a seat belt when driving, and use helmets during contact sports, biking, or riding a scooter to prevent brain injuries that can increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
5. Fuel Up Right: A well-balanced diet plays a significant role in maintaining brain health. Focus on consuming plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans, as they contain essential nutrients and antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
6. Catch Some ZZZ’s: Adequate sleep is essential for optimal brain function. Lack of sleep can impair memory, thinking, and overall cognitive performance. Prioritize getting enough sleep each night to support your brain health.
7. Take Care of Your Mental Health: Research has shown a correlation between depression and cognitive decline. Seeking treatment for depression, anxiety, or stress is important for both your mental and cognitive well-being. Prioritize your mental health and seek professional help when needed.
8. Buddy Up: Staying socially engaged has been linked to better brain health. Participate in community activities, spend time with loved ones, and maintain an active social life to support your cognitive function.
9. Stump Yourself: Challenging your mind is an excellent way to keep it sharp. Engage in activities that require mental effort, such as puzzles, strategy games like bridge, or even building something like a piece of furniture. These activities stimulate your brain and promote cognitive health.
10. Break a Sweat: Regular physical exercise not only benefits your physical health but also plays a significant role in maintaining cognitive function. Engage in cardiovascular exercises that elevate your heart rate and increase blood flow to the brain. Studies have shown that physical activity can reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
To complement your brain-healthy lifestyle, here’s a recipe for a nutritious and delicious Chimichurri Chickpea Salad.
Herbs — both fresh and dried — add more than just delicious flavor and vibrant color. They are packed with powerful antioxidants and other phytonutrients that protect your brain by decreasing inflammation and preventing DNA damage. Take advantage of summer’s bounty of fresh, local herbs, and if you haven’t tried growing them yourself, go for it! All they need is a sunny spot, water, and plenty of TLC.
This recipe combines 3 fragrant and delicious fresh summertime herbs — parsley, cilantro, and oregano.
You will need:
- 1 medium shallot OR 1/2 medium sweet white or yellow onion
- 1 1/2 cups firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, thick stems discarded (about 1 large bunch)
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves (about one large handful)
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves OR 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 medium garlic cloves
- 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon OR lime juice
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained (can substitute white beans)
- 1-4 cups largely diced (1-inch) raw veggies of your choice, such as red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, celery, garden peas, bell peppers (if you use veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, etc., either chop them smaller or give them a quick steam prior to adding)
- Pulse all ingredients, except chickpeas and vegetables, in a food processor. There should still be small chunks; do not puree. The mixture should be pourable. If it’s too thick, add a bit more olive oil or 1 tsp of water at a time. Let dressing sit in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. This would be a perfect recipe to make the night before.
- Variation – add the chickpeas to the food processor to make a delicious sandwich filling.
- Toss dressing with chickpeas and vegetables. Serve with crusty multigrain bread or a cooked whole grain like quinoa or bulgur.
Supplements to Consider:
1. Orthomega® 820 Ortho Molecular Products: Omega-3 fatty acids, essential for brain health and cognition.
2. Brain Factors Thorne: Supports brain health by promoting BDNF and enhancing cellular energy production.
3. Cognitive Aminos Pure Encapsulations: Supports healthy neurotransmitter activity for improved mental function and mood.
4. DHA Ultimate Pure Encapsulations: Omega-3 fatty acid DHA for neural and cognitive function support.
5. B12 Methylcobalamin 1000mcg Bioclinic Naturals: Supports cardiovascular health and maintains healthy homocysteine levels.
Loving your brain means taking proactive steps to promote cognitive health. By following these ten strategies provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, you can make a positive impact on your brain’s well-being. Combine these lifestyle habits with a brain-healthy diet, engaging activities, regular exercise, and, if necessary, appropriate supplements to support optimal cognitive function throughout your life.