What is the brain’s function?

The brain is a complex organ that has at least three levels of functions that affect all aspects of your daily life. Your brain can interpret senses and control movement, maintain cognitive, mental and emotional processes, and perform maintenance of normal behaviour and social cognition. Therefore, brain health may be defined as the preservation of optimal brain integrity and mental and cognitive function.

Your brain works throughout your life to control your body’s functions and helps you understand and interact with the world around you even before you leave the womb. The choices that we make in life can have significant impacts on the health of our minds and our bodies as we grow older.

Doctors and researchers have discovered that it’s possible to improve brain health and reduce the risk of dementia and age-related cognitive decline by making lifestyle changes. Some of the activities that can boost brain health are regular physical exercise, cutting bad habits like cigarettes and alcohol, eating a balanced diet and staying socially active.

Why is it important to maintain brain health?

Brain health is crucial for our ability to think, act and live well. It is about reducing risk factors, keeping your mind active and getting the very best out of your brain as you get older.

The way we live our lives has an impact on the healthy function of our brains including chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. We can’t change our genetic heritage, but we can make lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of developing dementia and mild cognitive decline. Statistically, a healthy lifestyle will not just reduce your risk of dementia, it will also protect you against other serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Tips to keep your brain healthy

Changes to your brain and body as you age are normal. However, there are some things you can do to help slow any decline in memory and lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

Here are some tips on maintaining your brain health:

  • Exercise regularly
    Exercise has many known benefits and regular physical activity benefits the brain. Studies show that physically active people are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function and have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Aim to exercise several times per week for 30-60 minutes whether by walking, running, swimming or playing sports.
  • Get plenty of sleep
    Sleep plays an important role in your brain health and helps clear abnormal proteins in your brain and consolidates memories, which in turn boosts your overall memory and brain health. It is important to get 7-8 consecutive hours of sleep per night to give you the time to consolidate and store your memories effectively.
  • Eat a Mediterranean diet
    What you eat plays a big role in your brain health. Plant-based foods, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats such as olive oil are vital for your cells to function correctly, decrease your risk of coronary artery disease, and increase mental focus and slow cognitive decline in older adults.
  • Stay mentally active
    There are many things that you can do to keep your brain in shape, such as doing a crossword puzzle, sudoku, reading, playing cards or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. It can be considered as cross-training your brain as well.
  • Remain socially involved
    Social interaction can help ward off depression and stress, both of which can contribute to memory loss. Research shows that solitary confinement can be linked to brain atrophy, so remaining socially active may have the opposite effect and strengthen your brain health.
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