Just as our bodies are changing every year, so are our brains. Even as you gain the wisdom that only experience can bring, your brain also begins to function a little more slowly as you age.
While this is natural, it doesn’t happen at the same rate for everyone. In fact, research suggests that living a healthy, active lifestyle can have a big impact on how your brain ages.
Here are some practical tips for staying sharp as you age.
Getting your heart pumping means getting your blood flowing, and that means more blood flow and oxygen to your brain. Not only will this help keep you sharp, you’ll feel more energized, too.
Regular physical activity has been shown to slow brain aging in older adults and to reduce risk of dementia. As an added bonus, more exercise during the day can also help you sleep better at night, which is important for keeping your brain healthy.
When your parents told you you had to finish your vegetables before you could leave the table, they may have been on to something. Research shows that individuals who eat a healthy diet full of vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants have lower rates of cognitive decline.
Colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients that feed the brain and antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress and slow signs of aging. Omega-3 fatty acids are also essential for brain health and can be found in salmon, soybeans, and flaxseed.
Watch Your Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol affects the body differently in our later years than it did when we were younger. It may take less alcohol to start feeling that “buzz,” and you may experience confusion more quickly. Heavy alcohol consumption is also a risk factor for dementia.
You also have to be careful about the way alcohol interacts with any medications you are taking. Blood pressure medications, in particular, can cause drowsiness and dizziness when mixed with alcohol.
So while you can still enjoy a glass of wine after a long day at work, or that beer while you cheer on your team, just be aware of how it affects you and make sure to drink in moderation.
Just like any other muscle, your brain needs exercise, too. Socializing is a great way to keep your mind active, your perspective fresh, and your mood positive.
Try playing a game with friends, taking a class, joining a book club, or getting involved in a community organization. Not only will it stimulate your mind, it’ll help you feel more connected to your community, which boosts your sense of well-being. Stronger social ties are linked to higher life expectancy and improved mental agility.
Ultimately, what keeps you healthy and happy will also help keep you young. Take good care of yourself and stay positively engaged with life, and you’ll get better mileage from both your body and your mind.