(Family Features) The brain is the body’s most complex organ. It’s also the most important one. That’s why keeping it healthy is critical, especially as you age. Every day, scientists are discovering how closely our minds and bodies are connected. As it turns out, the things that you do to keep your body and heart healthy may also be good for your brain.
Incorporate these eight healthy habits and activities into your daily life to help you optimize brain health and stay sharp in the years ahead.
Physical activity is good for your health at every age. Studies show being active is associated with a lower risk of brain issues. Whether it’s nightly walks, playing with the grandkids or taking your favorite yoga class, find an activity that meets your needs and gets your heart pumping for at least 30 minutes every day.
Eat to Thrive
The antioxidants in nutrient-dense foods like berries, broccoli and legumes, including some fats such as olive oil, may lower some risks to your brain. Try eating a healthy, low-fat, low-cholesterol diet with lots of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains such as oatmeal and brown rice.
Know Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can have serious effects on your brain health. If your blood pressure is high, get it under control. It may help reduce some risks to your brain.
How the body handles alcohol can change with age. Some older adults can feel “high” without increasing the amount of alcohol they drink. This can make them more likely to become confused or have accidents. So limit the amount of alcohol you drink – or don’t drink it at all.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Poor sleep, or inadequate sleep, due to issues such as insomnia or sleep apnea, doesn’t just leave you feeling tired. It can have serious physical effects and can impact memory and thinking, too. Get comfy and go to bed. Seven to eight hours is a good night’s rest.
Discover a New Talent
When you learn new things, you engage your brain. Try something you haven’t done before – learning French, ballroom dancing or carpentry, for example. Challenging your brain on a regular basis is fun and beneficial.
Science has shown that regular engagement in social activities can help reduce some risks to your brain. Stay connected and invite family or friends over for a healthy meal, go on a hike together or just hang out.
Talk to Your Doctor
As you age, some changes in brain function, including short-term memory, happen more frequently than when you were younger. If you have questions or are concerned, ask your doctor at your next appointment.
For more tips on keeping your brain healthy and thriving, visit BrainHealth.gov.