Top tips for keeping the brain healthy

Keeping your brain active will reduce the risk of dementia

Everyday, new information appears about keeping your brain in shape to stave off the onset of dementia. We’re told an active brain is a healthy brain and that makes sense. The brain, like all other organs in the body, should be looked after. Given its complex nature, that means providing good nutrition and performing a few ‘mind exercises’ to keep the brain working and functioning to the best of its abilities. Who knows, you might even learn something new!

Prevent age related mental illness by looking after your brain

Here are a few tips on keeping that most vital of organs, the brain, healthy:

Feed the brain

By this we mean the right nutrition. Good food from the right diet will sharpen the mind so it’s always ready for action.

Avoid caffeine and refined sugars – These substances may well give you a quick boost of energy but when they wear off you’ll be feeling groggy and unable to perform your best. Keep using them and you’ll start to develop all sorts of chronic problems such as sleep disorders and weight gain. Avoid tea and coffee and go for water instead. Drink regularly throughout the day so you stay hydrated. Dehydration is the primary cause for loss of concentration.

Nutrients and supplements – Brain function needs essential nutrients which can be found in foods such as nuts, fruit and vegetables. Fish and seeds have Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils which are EFAs (essential fatty acids) and can also be taken as supplements. Other supplements to consider are Vitamin C and E. Both these vitamins have been found to improve health and function of the brain and research has shown them beneficial in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s and other dementia related illness.

Herbs – Taking Gingko Biloba in tablet form can help with memory. An Indian herb known as Gotu Kola can improve clarity of thought and concentration. It is available in tincture form or as capsules and also serves to give a relaxing effect that reduces stress. If you are pregnant, on anti-depressants or breast-feeding you should avoid this herb. Gingseng can help with alertness and comes in tablet or tincture form.

Exercise the brain

And yes, this can involve physical exercise too as well as mental exercises. In fact, bodily movement requires co-ordination and that keeps the brain active.

Get moving – If you’re able to, try doing more than one physical activity at a time such as walking and skipping with a rope. If you can’t skip, how about walking while using a yo-yo? Both sides of the brain (known as the hemispheres) need exercising. The left hemisphere is responsible for much of the work we do while the right controls creativity and problem solving. Get them both working and balanced.

Go surfing – If you’re fit enough, this can be proper surfing, however, for those who saw our news item about using the internet then web surfing is just as beneficial to the brain. Going online and performing web searches activates the part of the brain involved with reasoning and decision making. Internet use is of particular benefit to middle-aged people and the elderly so don’t be afraid of this technology – embrace it and improve your brain’s health. For those who spend too much time on a computer using the web, give yourself time away from the PC, you can have too much of a good thing!

Think about it – Get those brain cells working with puzzles and quizzes. Crosswords, Sudoku, even a daily dose of Countdown on the TV. For those who like their gadgets, handheld computer gaming systems now have software specifically designed to test your brain and keep it sharp.

Seek out professional advice for brain health

We’ve touched on a few ideas to help keep your brain fit and healthy. To get some specific professional advice, speak to your GP and then seek out an appropriate alternative medicine and complementary therapy practitioner who can advise you on nutrition and herbal medicine.

Article submitted by
Daniel Alexander, GoToSee Journalist

Date published
24/10/08


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