Diet to sleep hygiene: Ways to slow down brain aging
Many women go for anti-aging creams and other skin care products to look young. Well, there aren’t anti-aging products to keep your brain young. But there are ways you can slow down your brain from aging. You don’t have to live in fear thinking about mental decline as you grow older. Yes, your brain also gets affected by ageing. That’s why we hear about so many people getting affected by dementia and other mental health issues. Don’t worry, as you can do things to help maintain brain health.
To know all about aging and the brain, HealthShots connected with Dr Rishi Gautam, a US-based mental health expert and a specialist of psychiatry.
Aging and its effects on brain
Aging is a natural process that affects our body, including the brain. Dr Gautam says that it causes certain parts of the brain to shrink, especially those important to learning and other complex mental activities. In some of the brain regions, communication between nerve cells may not be as effective, and so blood flow in the brain may decrease. Progressive aging also leads to increase in inflammation and loss of cells due to cell death. This affects a person’s ability to recall names and find words.
Ways to slow down the process of aging in the brain
1. Regular exercise
Aerobic exercise for 30 to 60 minutes several times a week has been shown to decrease the risk of developing dementia, says the expert. It increases blood flow in the brain and promotes cell growth.
2. Sleep hygiene
Good quality sleep is critical, so try to get at least 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Restful sleep promotes consolidation of memories, removes toxins and abnormal proteins. If you have interrupted sleep, you might be suffering from sleep apnea. It is important to see a sleep specialist if you suffer from poor sleep and daytime tiredness.
Eating a healthy diet rich with whole grains, unsaturated or healthy fats, nuts, fish may decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Try to have oils such as extra-virgin olive oil that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Stay mentally active
Your brain is like a muscle in many ways. Keeping it active, slows down ageing, says Dr Gautam. Retiring from active work should not translate to becoming intellectually inactive. Remain engaged in cognitively stimulating tasks such as reading, problem solving tasks, puzzles and playing cards rather than just watching TV.
Being social is one of the most basic human needs. It fulfills our need for love and bonding, and also promotes healthy brain, decreases risks of depression and anxiety.
6. Healthy weight and cardio protection
Strokes are like heart attacks of the brain which increase the risk of early dementia. Protect yourself by maintaining a healthy weight, ensure blood glucose and blood pressure are well controlled.
7. Limit consumption of alcohol
Drink less alcohol, as excessive alcohol intake is related to direct toxicity to the brain cells, poor sleep, slowed thinking and poor decision-making.
8. Embrace assistance devices like hearing aids
Progressive hearing loss and falls are part of aging. There is often a resistance to seeking help of devices such as hearing aids, glasses, dentures and walkers in the elderly. This leads to limited mobility, decreased socialization, poor appetite and increased risk of falls which all worsen the onset and progression of cognitive function, says the expert.
Advancements in medical treatments, increased awareness into healthy lifestyles and early detection of chronic diseases have been great contributors to progressively increasing life expectancy and life spans.