Most of us know the importance of keeping our bodies fit, but often forget our most important organ, the brain.
It’s been recognised that regularly challenging the brain is important to maintain memory and cognitive function; however the reality is new technology that make our lives easier could be robbing us of the daily brain-strengthening tasks.
With the annual Brain Awareness Week bringing focus to brain health and vital research, Australians are being urged to take a moment to consider how to keep their brain healthy and happy.
Given most would be unwilling to permanently part with pocket technology,here are seven tips to help maintain a healthy brain:
1. Include moderate exercise in your daily routine. It helps reduce stress and has been shown to boost mood.
2. Get enough sleep - Researchers do not fully understand why we sleep and dream, but they do know a process called memory consolidation occurs during sleep. Hence, getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better. 2
3. Throw away the calculator! Next time you need to do some sums, instead of reaching for the calculator do it the old fashioned way to keep your brain active. Brain exercises like crosswords or Sudoku puzzles, or even doing something as simple as brushing your teeth with the hand you wouldn’t usually use can hold you in good stead.
4. Eat more ‘smart foods’ –animal studies have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress, while nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E, a vitamin which in higher levels corresponds with less cognitive decline.
5. Try something fishy! Omega-3 found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are essential for brain health. But research shows 3 in 5 Aussies are not getting the recommended 2-3 serves each week. “Fatty acids are particularly helpful in maintaining cognitive function, including memory and concentration. Omega-3 can help achieve this,” said Rachael Aldridge, Nature’s Own Naturopath.
“Omega-3 is important across all stages of life. Infants require it for the growth and functional development of their brains, and the same nutrient is essential for adults to maintain normal brain function. Clinical research has also shown that fish consumption may help maintain cognitive function and memory in the ageing brain.”
6. Reduce intake of saturated fats. Where possible, choose unsaturated types such as olive and canola oils.
7. Avoid smoking and excessive drinking of alcohol. Smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol are risk factors for a number of chronic diseases.