Your brain is one of the most powerful and awe-inspiring parts of your body, and it’s essential to do whatever is within your power to care for this organ.
Our neurology specialists from Link Neuroscience Institute diagnose and treat various brain-related conditions, from concussions to strokes to dementia. While modern technology allows us to address many of these concerns, we also know that lifestyle modifications can go a long way in helping you prevent some of these conditions.
Below, we share our best lifestyle tips to help you have a healthy brain now — and later.
Practice good sleep hygiene
While you’re fast asleep, your brain is busy! While you sleep, your brain removes toxins, consolidating and stabilizing memories, and repairing brain cell damage. Without enough sleep, your brain can finish its nightly tasks.
Practice good sleep hygiene by aiming to sleep 7-9 hours each night, sleeping in a cool, dark room, and avoiding screens before bed. It’s tempting to stay up late, but resist the urge. Your brain needs quality sleep!
Add more healthy fats to your diet
Your brain is about 60% fat, but the key to a healthy brain is consuming the right kind of fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered a “healthy fat” found in olive oil, nuts, chia seeds, and avocados.
Fish is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Mackerel contains 4580 mg per serving, salmon provides 2150 mg per serving, and herring also provides 2150 mg per serving. Add fish to your weekly menu rotation to reap these benefits, and include plenty of brain-healthy nuts and seeds.
Smoking is well-known for its health implications on your lungs, but did you know it also affects your brain? Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of dementia, reduces brain volume, increases your risk of having a stroke, increases your risk of developing a brain tumor, and negatively affects the structure of your brain.
Stopping smoking can help reduce these risks. If you need help quitting, consider taking advantage of some cessation programs courtesy of the California Department of Public Health.
Wear protective gear
Sports injuries and car accidents are two major sources of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). You can greatly reduce your risk of sustaining a brain injury by always wearing a seatbelt while riding in a vehicle and always wearing a helmet when participating in high-risk sports or recreational activities. Make it a habit to wear the right type of helmet for your chosen activity, whether that’s biking, rollerblading, riding a motorcycle, or playing hockey.
Regular exercise provides many benefits for physical health, but did you know that exercise also supports healthy brain function? Exercise can:
- Boost blood flow to your brain
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Improve memory and cognitive function
- Help you solve problems and think critically
- Reduce the onset of Alzheimer's disease
- Slow cognitive decline
While structured exercise — such as jogging or participating in a spin class — provides these benefits, researchers noted that simply moving (whether you’re “exercising” or not) is the key. For example, if you are staying active by doing household chores or if you’re in a class at the gym, your brain receives the same benefits.
Aim to exercise for at least 150 minutes each week. You can walk, swim, ride a bike, play tennis, dance, hike, garden, or participate in any other moderate aerobic activity that increases your heart rate.
Stimulate your mind
Physical activity is essential, but so is mental exercise. Stimulating your mind through various games and puzzles helps keep your brain sharp by reinforcing short-term memory, enhancing your mood (thanks to an increase in dopamine), and supporting visual and spatial reasoning.
Good “brain boosters” include:
- Traditional puzzles
- Sudoku puzzles
- Crossword puzzles
- Reading a book
Researchers have noted that jigsaw puzzles, in particular, help prevent cognitive aging by visuospatial cognition.
Take medication as prescribed
If you’re prescribed medication to treat a condition, whether epilepsy or chronic headaches, always follow your treatment plan as directed.
Questions about your brain health? Call the location of your choice — Oxnard or Santa Barbara, California — and speak to our team today. You can also use our online booking tool.