Over time, small behaviors can do big things for your brain.
Many middle-aged people worry about developing memory loss later in life.
Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent memory loss, researchers know more and more about how the brain works and how to keep it healthy.
Here are five important steps everyone can take:
Have a healthy diet
Choose vegetables, fish, eggs, legumes (lentils, beans), nuts, olive oil and fruits. Limit red meat, alcohol and sugar.
Avoid processed and packaged food as much as possible. A healthy diet will also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is linked to Alzheimer’s diseases.
Research shows that keeping a food diary is a great way to be aware of what you eat.
You can do this with pencil and paper or on your phone with related app.
Do regular exercise
We can’t stress enough the importance of all types of exercise. If you haven’t exercised for a while, start by walking.
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Talk with your doctor before you pursue a formal exercise program.
Some people find apps that track activity level helpful for motivation. A quick search for a pedometer app on your phone will offer a wide array of tools to try.
Keep social connections
People are good for your brain — and those with a social network are less likely to develop dementia.
So, get out and about. Talk with others. Join groups. Maintain your involvement in clubs, organizations or your religious community.
If you prefer staying home, make sure you have a pet or at least one or two friends or family members with whom you can socialize and have fun.
Positive interaction with others stimulates the brain and helps it stay sharp. Social engagement also protects against anxiety, stress and depression, which can negatively affect brain function.
Have good sleep
People tend to forget about the importance of sleep. While you sleep, your brain is cleansed and refreshed.
Research shows that getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night is not a luxury; it’s crucial for a healthy life.
Use your brain
The old saying “use it or lose it” applies to your memory and other cognitive functions.
Working, volunteering, reading, doing puzzles, playing instruments and learning new skills are great ways to keep your brain healthy and active.
Recently, a host of computer programs, games and apps that promise to help preserve memory and other cognitive abilities have cropped up.
Paper activities such as Sudoku, crossword puzzles and Scrabble work fine.
If you prefer the computer over your smartphone, check outGamesfortheBrain.com. There are many games to play, but one favorite is called Masterpieces.
Importantly, the best app or website for your brain is the one that works for you.
Find the one that challenges you without increasing your stress, keeps you engaged and gives you enjoyment. With the right apps and websites, technology can be your brain and heart exercise partner.