They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, well not for the human brain. It’s true that the brain goes through different changes as it ages but it also has the ability to “form new brain cells and neural connections and improve its capabilities throughout your life, if it is provided with the right stimuli. This process is scientifically known as Neuroplasticity.
According to BeBrainFit.com, the brain continually changes its structure, function, circuitry and chemistry according to what you think and do. Therefore, our daily habits, thoughts and behaviors affect how our brain works.
If you are worried about your memory and thinking skills declining as you age, it’s time to make some lifestyle changes and follow these steps to keep your brain sharp and fire up its recall and retention:
1. Have a brain-boosting diet.
Your food choices don’t just affect your physical health but your mental health as well, so make sure to have a diet that consists of brain-boosting foods that are rich in anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids such as olive oil, blueberries and salmon, to name a few. Avocados, Walnuts and Turmeric are also known to support brain health, enhance cognitive and motor function, and possibly reverse neurological diseases in aging adults.
2. Be active.
Exercise pumps the heart and increases blood flow to the rain, which promotes the growth of new brain cells. Therefore, if you want to improve your memory, you shouldn’t just focus on keeping your brain active but your body as well. A thirty minute to 1 hour aerobics, walking or cycling a day can significantly improve your body and brain function. To help you get started safely on a new fitness routine, here are 6 tips to keep in mind.
3. Get enough sleep.
According to a recent study conducted by John Hopkins Medicine, sleep deprivation interferes with the brain’s ability to form new memories because it is during that time (when we are asleep) that the brain cells chemically recalibrate.
“Sleep is not really downtime for the brain. It has important work to do then, and we in the developed world are shortchanging ourselves by skimping on it.”
4. Train your brain.
This step is pretty obvious – you need to stimulate your brain in order to keep it active and preserve its mental acuity. With the help of technology, training your brain is easy with these brain fitness apps like Elevate, BrainHQ and Happify.
5. Be more musically-inclined.
Music has always been known to affect the brain function by improving memory and spatial learning, even for aging adults. One study reported that music improves the brain’s processing speed performance as well as its episodic memory and semantic memory performance.
Aside from listening to music, studies also suggest that learning to play a musical instrument can significantly improve cognitive function.
6. Stay smoke-free.
One of the many negative effects of smoking is decreasing the ability of the body to deliver oxygen to the brain which speeds up cognitive decline. Smoking can also contribute to the formulation of plaques in the brain that can cause dementia.
Aging is irreversible but we can harness the power of our brain’s ability and improve our memory through the steps mentioned above.