Aging is a natural part of life and we embrace it, but let’s face it, who doesn’t want to age well? Whether you’re into smoothing out your wrinkles or celebrating them, there’s no arguing this point: We all want to keep our minds sharp. That means making sure you do everything you can to keep your brain young. And that means making what’s inside your head as high priority as your waistline and your physique.
5 STEPS TO KEEPING YOUR BRAIN YOUNG
1. CHECK YOUR DIET
Eat a diet very rich in plant foods and omega 3 fatty acids. This provides a supply of brain protective nutrients, as well as fats that are essential to brain and body function. It is easy to fill up on foods that are rich in neither, and this displaces other food choices that might have made a different biochemical impact on the body.
2. WATCH OUT
Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood sugar including actual diabetes. These undermine the blood supply to the brain, and in the case of high blood sugar, warp the protein structure of many cells which advances aging.
3. STAY ACTIVE
Keep learning and keep moving. Our body and brain are very cooperative! If we are idle our brain involutes. If we make demands on our brain, it will respond by making new connections and it seems that the hippocampus (memory and learning central) will even start to create new cell growth. Movement itself can not only increase circulation to the brain but stimulate brain trophic (regeneration factors) factors. The people in the park doing Tai Chi or working their garden are on to something!
4. DO DETOX
Support normal detoxification and elimination of the body. This includes nutrients that support removal of burdensome compounds from the body and those protective compounds from plants and other sources that shield the body and brain from radical damage. Although “toxins” are not to blame for everything – it’s important to remember that we live in a world with tens of thousands of chemical compounds that did not exist before World War II.
5. TAKE CARE
Finally, address the determinants of health. This includes hydration, sleep, digestion, social support, loving relationships. Although these things are well understood by virtually everyone to matter, these are often the very things that are neglected in our busy lives. They are called determining factors of health for a reason. Just sleep deprivation alone (and millions of North Americans get less than optimal sleep) can cause cognitive impairment. When we ignore these simple needs, we set the stage for premature aging and ill health.
Dr. Fraser Smith, ND, author of Keep Your Brain Young: A Health & Diet Program for your Brain, Including 150 Recipes, is a naturopathic doctor based in Vermont, who trained at Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Ontario. He is also the author of the textbook Introduction to Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Medicine.