The brain is the control center of the body. It helps you form thoughts and retrieve memory to analyze problems, which is the role of the hippocampus — the brain area that regulates learning tasks.
If you’ve been experiencing memory lapses, it may indicate you’re doing unhealthy things that impact the brain. Here are 10 ways to nurture your memory health today and delay its deterioration as you age.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep has a significant role in brain health. During sleep, severe cognitive processes happen.
For instance, the brain consolidates and links together relevant memories you’ve accumulated during the day. It stores them in the hippocampus, so you wake up with a blank slate, ready to collect new memories and information in the morning.
Not getting enough sleep disrupts specific brain processes, which can impact your memory.
2. Maintain a Healthy BMI
The brain works with other body systems to maintain normal functions, and this relationship is reciprocal. Any imbalances can influence the nervous system and vice versa.
For example, obesity increases your risk for cognitive diseases. An 11-year study on individuals at least 50 years old found that those with a body mass index corresponding to being overweight or obese were more likely to develop dementia.
Maintaining a moderate weight requires discipline and following your health goals, like staying active or eating nutritious food, but it’s worthwhile to keep your body in healthy condition.
3. Stick to a Mediterranean Diet
Speaking of staying healthy, the Mediterranean style is popular among people in their midlife to protect the brain. Mainly vegetables, fruits and whole grains will fill your plate. Some examples of foods you should eat more of are:
- Brussels sprouts
The foods you should avoid include:
- Sugary beverages
- Saturated fats
- Processed meats
- Refined carbs
4. Go Easy on Alcohol
Excessive alcohol drinking ages the brain, especially when someone drinks to the point where they experience a blackout — where they have no recollection of the events that happened while drinking. If you misuse alcohol, it can leave permanent damage to your brain, so drink alcohol moderately.
5. Avoid Smoking
Tobacco products rank high as the leading cause of death among Americans. It contributes to the deterioration of the lungs, heart and brain. The nicotine in cigarettes is a chemical that makes you addicted to smoking. It changes your brain chemistry and you start to associate nicotine use with feelings of pleasure, turning into dependency.
If you want to protect your brain, quit smoking.
6. Reduce the Risk of Traumatic Brain Injury
In the United States, more than 23 million adults aged 40 and older have had a history of head injury and concussion. Causes vary from motorcycle or car crashes to sports injuries and other forms of accidents.
Recent research from the team at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that one instance of head injury could cause dementia later in life. Risk increases with more head injuries.
You can’t predict what happens on the road, but ensure you follow safety procedures when driving. Wear your seatbelt or helmet.
7. Eat Less Sugar
Sugar is associated with many long-term health ailments like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Cut it down from your diet. For example, have your coffee sugar-free instead of the usual sweet and flavored latte.
If you’re craving sweets, eat fruits that offer natural sweetness instead of desserts like ice cream. You don’t have to eliminate sugar, but you may indulge if you find healthier versions of your favorite sweets with wholesome ingredients.
8. Engage in Meaningful Hobbies
According to research, people living a purposeful life live healthier and longer. It’s also linked with better mental and physical well-being. The sense of purpose revolves around your goals or what’s important to you, so it’s unique for each individual.
For instance, your life’s purpose could be supporting your community or creating a business that improves other’s lives. People with a sense of purpose have a lower risk for neurological disorders.
9. Exercise Your Brain
Training your cognitive skills by playing brain games is a fun and effective way to boost your memory and stay mentally active. Like your muscles, the brain benefits from stimulating activities. They can sharpen your memory, focus and overall cognition.
Some basic activities to try are puzzles and card games. You can also explore hobbies that challenge your mental skills, such as learning a language or how to play a musical instrument. Engaging your brain through various activities improves neuroplasticity, reinforcing the connection between neurons for better memory retention.
10. Maintain an Active Social Life
Married people may live longer than those who were divorced, widowed, or never married. One study found that despite accounting for cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking, blood pressure and cholesterol, married men were 46% less likely to die than single men.
The quality of your relationships impacts your well-being, so choose the people you want within your circle. Maintaining a positive and caring social circle is key to supporting your well-being.
Take Care of Your Memory Health Starting Today
There are habits and discipline involved when nurturing your brain. If you do them now when you’re younger, bringing these positive attributes into your midlife and golden years is easy.
Your brain health commands everything you do in life. Ensure it’s healthy by getting enough sleep, consuming nutritious foods and avoiding other factors that lead to its deterioration.