Thursday, August 28, 2008

Keeping Your Brain Healthy While You Age: Five Tips to Help You

Author: Jamie Jefferson

Recent scientific discoveries have shown that the body is not
the only thing that ages as we grow old. Your brain can also
experience the effects of aging, especially if you don't take
steps to keep it healthy. The following five suggestions will
help you stay sharp.

1. Eating for Brain Health. Your brain relies on the foods that
you eat, as well as the rest that you get, in order to work
properly. It's important to eat a well-balanced diet. Eating
foods considered to be "brain healthy" will help keep your body
and your brain working at optimum levels. These foods include
vegetables, foods high in antioxidants (such as blueberries,
raisins, red bell peppers and eggplant), omega-3 fatty acids
(mostly found in cold water fish) and B vitamins.

Recent research has also indicated the importance of two other
brain nutrients: alpha-lipoic acid and acetyl l-carnitine. Talk
to your doctor about taking supplements of these nutrients to
help keep your brain young. Both of these supplements increase
the energy output of the mitochondria, a part of your cells that
produce the energy that runs your entire body. Over time,
mitochondria start to disintegrate and taking a supplement may
help to prevent or slow this process.

New research is coming out all the time on the effects of
various nutritional supplements on brain health, so stay alert
to new developments in this exciting branch of modern science.

2. Physical Exercise. Your brain also loves physical exercise.
Exercise brings more oxygen into your body, which is great for
your brain. Physical activity also helps by producing stress
proteins that encourage the regeneration of brain cells.

For best results, according to recent research, you need to be
mentally engaged with the exercise activity. If you consider
your exercise boring, and you mentally check out during the
activity, research suggests that you are not going to get the
same benefits as someone who is having fun and is fully engaged
during the exercise.

3. Mental Exercise. Your brain is a muscle and, in order to keep
it fit as you age, you need to continue to exercise it as much
as possible. The first way you can do this is through improving
and maintaining your reasoning skills. This can be done through
puzzles or challenging games, such as chess. Stretch your brain
by reading philosophy or engaging in friendly debating with some
friends. Another part of exercising your brain is improving your
verbal skills. Word of the Day calendars, crossword puzzles, and
games such as Scrabble can also help increase your vocabulary
and strengthen your brain.

4. Try something new. Expand your experience by taking up an
instrument or trying to learn a new language. Not only are these
hobbies fun, but they can also help to create new connections in
your brain. These new connections improve the overall strength
of your brain and allow you to learn and remember more over time.

5. R & R. Finally, your brain functions best when it has had
enough rest. Getting enough sleep is important to your mental
functioning and also in the storage of memories. When you have
good sleep habits, you'll be able to think more clearly and you
may even find that you start to remember more than you did


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