The brain. The body’s most powerful organ. Only a brain surgeon could fully understand its inner workings or how it does what it does. One thing’s for sure, though: you’ll miss it when it’s gone.
With Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia on the rise, ‘brain-training’ is very much in vogue among retirees and younger whippersnappers alike. As game developers have been quick to appreciate, preserving healthy cognitive function means maintaining sharpness across all the right areas, from memory and recall to problem solving and planning. There’s enough there for a bi-annual upgrade and then some.
Video games aside, there are plenty of equally as efficient but less costly ways to keep your grey matter firing on all cylinders. Here are some top tips for successful cerebral conservation:
1. Learn something new
Be it the cello, Ancient Greek or Chinese calligraphy, teaching yourself a new skill is a great way to keep the old brain cells ticking over. A recent study of retirees showed that a challenging mental activity one a week reduced the risk of dementia by 7%.
2. Get physical
Work the rest of your body while you’re at it. Research suggests that 30 minutes of exercise three times each week can reduce dementia by 40% and cognitive impairment by 60%. The secondary benefits should also be obvious.
3. Food for thought
You don’t need a PHD in nutrition to know some foods are better for the brain than others. Indulge in vegetables, nuts and fish – staples of the Mediterranean diet that promote blood-flow to the brain. Drink plenty of water and stay off the junk food!
4. Take a load off
From catching enough ‘Z’s each night to meditative techniques, giving your brain some much-needed down time is essential in reducing wear and tear. It will also help you maintain skills such as problem solving, concentration and memory. Aim for 7.5 to 8.5 hours a night for optimum brain function.
Whether happily retired or gainfully employed, whatever your age, looking after the stuff upstairs should be a top priority. The good news is that keeping your neurotransmitters nimble needn’t cost the earth and can slot fairly easily into your day-to-day lifestyle.