Our brains are a remarkable organ, providing us with the ability to run, laugh, sleep, and so much more. Although it is highly complex, when something happens to the human brain, we realize how fragile we really are.
Aging tends to decline cognitive functioning, which is why Alzheimer’s and related diseases are more prominent in the older population. There are any factors that are out of our control, however you have more power than you may believe.
Luckily, there are ways that you can protect your brain. When you actively protect this vital organ, you can decrease cognitive decline, improve mood, increase neuroprotective properties, and so much more. You are in control of your actions, so make the right choices.
Why We Need to Protect Our Brain
Just like your doctor tells you to take care of your heart, your brain is no different. This is especially true for the aging population. Every thought, function, and idea that travels through your brain, does so through effective communication.
Our neurons communicate, sending and receiving signals. With Alzheimer’s for instance, it is believed that there’s a build-up of a toxic protein between our brain cells. This protein blocks the information that is being transmitted between cells. Unfortunately, this can lead to disrupted functioning, a decline in functioning synapses, and even cell death.
Not only are our brains exposed to toxins and pollution, but over time, we develop more and more free radicals. Free radicals are unbalanced molecules, being highly toxic to cells. This is why we’re encouraged to consume antioxidants. Antioxidants destroy the path in which free radicals begin. This helps to eliminate future damage.
What You Can Do Within Everyday Life
Everyone wants to live a long, happy, productive life. This is possible, you just need to take proper care of yourself. If you take care of yourself when you’re younger, you could essentially decrease your risk of cognitive decline. If you’re older, there are plenty of ways to stay sharp. You can grow new neurons, enhancing effective communication within your brain.
Our brain is an organ that thinks, learns, and grows by interacting with your surroundings. Your perception and actions may a large role in brain functioning. When you mentally stimulate your brain, you can protect this vital organ against cognitive decline.
Although diseases like Alzheimer’s are an exception, most age-related memory loss is simply due to inactivity. However, our brains can continually adapt to changes, creating and growing new neurons. It’s important to keep your brain stimulated by experiencing new and exciting things.
Challenge your brain by learning a new task. There are so many classes out there, so get involved. Whether you’re interested in sculpture or dance, this is a great way to grow new connections. Travel is another great example, as you’re exposing your brain to new experiences.
Instead of watching countless hours of TV (which pushes your brain into neutral mode), play a game, enjoy a hobby, or read. All of these activities create stimulation. Bingo night is also a great option, as it is said to minimize memory loss, while improving hand-eye coordination.
We know that physical exercise is essential for our cardiovascular and respiratory system, but it’s also vital for brain function. Exactly how exercise improves brain function is not fully known, however researchers believe that exercise creates a flow of nutrient-rich blood and oxygen to the brain. This healthy flow is said to nourish neurons.
Physical exercise is also beneficial for one’s mood. Depression within elderly individuals is not uncommon. When we exercise, endorphins are released. This triggers a positive feeling throughout the body. Exercise essentially reduces stress levels, minimizing feelings of anxiety.
Another benefit of endorphins are their analgesic effects. This means, they can minimize the perception of pain. Endorphins bind to the same neuron receptors as pain medications. Unlike many pain medications, exercise does not create negative side-effects of dependence.
Get Involved in Social Interaction
If there are opportunities within your community, get involved. Museums, hospitals, libraries, and many other organizations tend to have volunteer programs. This will force you to learn new facts, forming new pathways (as discussed above).
The interaction that you experience from others can ease stress levels, which in turn decreases the risk of memory-loss. When we’re socially interactive, we’re using memory function and attention. This helps to maintain brain vitality.
Combine All Activities to Ensure Positive Brain Health
The combination of mental, physical, and social activities, produce the greatest effects. When you combine all three, there’s a more positive effect than one factor on its own. One study found that with this combination, there were significant effects on dementia prevention.
photo credit: tedeytan via photopin cc
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