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If you want to remain independent as you age, protecting your brain health is a must.
Yet, with the mountains of research out there on what to do (and what not to do) in order to keep our brains in tip-top shape, it can be hard to sort out which ones are a must and can offer the most help for the least investment.
Luckily, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology took it upon themselves to whittle down that mountain…
“The keys to our nervous system are the grey and white matter,” says Hermundur Sigmundsson, a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Psychology.
The grey matter consists of nerve cells, or neurons, and dendrites. The white matter provides the contacts between the cells and contributes to the transmission speed and distribution of the signals.
After combing through over 100 separate study references, they’ve revealed the three most important keys to keeping your grey and white matter in shape…
The three factors for better brain health
Here are the factors that the researchers say stand out if you want to keep your brain at its best.
#1 – Exercise
It probably won’t surprise you that according to the researchers, the number one key to better brain health is physical activity.
“An active lifestyle helps to develop the central nervous system and to counteract the aging of the brain,” says researcher, Hermundur Sigmundsson, a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Psychology.
This is a conclusion that’s backed up by past studies which have found that exercise stimulates the production of chemicals in the brain that helps stave off damage, inflammation and poor cognition.
So while getting enough daily activity may be the biggest challenge for many of us, it’s also the biggest opportunity to give our brains what they need to stay healthy.
This makes it vital to not get stuck in your chair but instead get up and get moving!
And it doesn’t take a lot.
One study found that it takes just over two hours a week of exercise total to slow brain aging.
#2 – Relationships
The second key to keeping your brain healthy is staying social.
While some of us are happiest alone or in the company of just a few people, Sigmundsson points out, “Relationships with other people, and interacting with them, contribute to a number of complex biological factors that can prevent the brain from slowing down.”
There is a clear link between loneliness and memory problems, including the development of dementia.
So be sure to spend time with others, whether getting together for dinner with friends, joining a book club or volunteering at your local charity to support better brain function at every age.
#3 – Passion
Finally, the researchers say that if you want to keep your brain healthy, it’s also important to have strong interests, not be afraid to learn new things or hold back from new challenges.
“Passion, or having a strong interest in something, can be the decisive, driving factor that leads us to learn new things. Over time, this impacts the development and maintenance of our neural networks,” Sigmundsson says.
For example, learning a new language could help keep your brain dementia-free.
Bonus tips for brain support
So if you want a healthy brain, the keys are to stay….
Stay active, stay social and stay curious.
And for even more brain support that can add up to even better cognition, there are a few more simple things you can do.
- Getting more sunshine – Low levels of vitamin D are linked to a higher risk of dementia, so why not add more of the sunshine vitamin to your life?
- Enjoying more flavonoids – Flavonoids, like the ones found in richly-colored berries, help your brain flourish, reducing the risk of memory loss.
- Using the right kinds of oils – The fatty acids found in certain types of oils offer crucial components that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform.
- Eating more greens – Higher intake of healthy greens can help slow brain aging by a decade.
- Supplementing wisely – One nutrient known as Phosphatidylserine, or PS for short, is a key building block for brain health, where it’s found in high concentrations in brain cells called neurons. My favorite source of this powerful nootropic is Peak PS™.
Remember, your brain health tomorrow depends on the choices you make today.
Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!
Keys to keeping your brain healthy – EurekAlert!