10 Ways to Promote Brain Health

Make these 10 simple lifestyle changes to keep your brain healthy.

By URLife Team
08 Jun 2023

Our brain is the epicentre of our thoughts, memories, and emotions. Just as we prioritise a healthy lifestyle for our bodies, it's time to extend the same dedication to our brain health.


Fortunately, maintaining a healthy brain is not a daunting task. It's within reach for each and every one of us through simple lifestyle adjustments and practices.


As we age, the brain undergoes a series of natural changes, and mental abilities may also experience shifts. Many individuals fear the potential decline in cognitive function that comes with getting older. However, it's important to note that cognitive impairment is not an unavoidable outcome. There are various strategies you can employ to support and preserve brain function as you age. Here are 10 effective approaches to help maintain your cognitive abilities over time.


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Ways to Promote  Brain Health

1. Learning New Things Keeps the Brain Healthy

Engaging in lifelong learning stimulates the brain and promotes cognitive vitality. As per the 2010 research conducted by the University of California, learning new skills or pursuing intellectual challenges can enhance brain function, memory, and cognitive flexibility. Consider taking up a new hobby, learning a musical instrument, or enrolling in online courses to keep your brain sharp and active.


2. Challenging the Brain Improves Memory

Regular mental stimulation is key to maintaining optimal brain health. Activities like puzzles, reading, solving riddles, or playing strategic games can improve cognitive abilities and memory. These mentally challenging tasks promote the growth of new neurons and strengthen existing neural connections, keeping your brain agile and resilient. 


The  2002 Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study investigated the impact of cognitive training on older adults. The study involved over 2,800 participants aged 65 and older, who were assigned to different cognitive training programs. The results showed that participants who engaged in cognitive training experienced significant improvements in cognitive abilities, including memory, reasoning, and processing speed. These findings highlight the positive effects of mental stimulation on cognitive function and the potential for maintaining brain health as we age.


Related story: 11 Ways To Train Your Brain To Focus Better


3. Clean Air Matters for a Healthy Brain

Breathing clean air is crucial for brain health. Research indicates that exposure to air pollution, both outdoors and indoors, can have detrimental effects on cognitive function and increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Ensure proper ventilation in your living spaces, avoid smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and consider using air purifiers to maintain clean air quality. A 2021 research by the University of Southern California confirms that cleaner air may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and other brain problems.


4. Physical Exercise Keeps the Brain Healthy

Regular physical exercise not only benefits your body but also supports brain health. Studies have shown that aerobic exercises, such as jogging, swimming, or cycling, increase blood flow to the brain, promote the release of growth factors, and enhance cognitive abilities. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week to boost your brain health.


A 2019 research by the Boston University School of Medicine proves that physical activity, even at a light intensity, is associated with larger brain volume and healthy brain ageing.


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5. Diverse Diet Improves Brain Function

Eating a nutritious diet is vital for brain health. Focus on consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Consuming a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and improve brain function.


A 2017 study presented by the University of Illinois, studies adds evidence that dietary intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can promote healthy brain ageing.


6. Controlled Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Promotes Brain Health

Maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels is crucial for brain health. Hypertension and high blood sugar can increase the risk of cognitive impairment and vascular dementia. Adopting a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and managing stress can help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, thus promoting brain health.


A 2023 study by the University of California - Davis Health confirms that high blood pressure in early adulthood is associated with worse brain health in late life, according to a new study. Men, compared to women, may be more vulnerable to the detrimental effects of high blood pressure on the brain for some brain regions.


Related story: The Diabetes Guide: How To0 Balance Your Blood Sugar


7. Cholesterol Levels are Linked to Brain Health

Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is essential for brain function. High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol have been associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. A heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, and medication can help manage cholesterol levels and support brain health.


According to 2017 reports presented by the American Academy of Neurology, people who take care of their heart health in young adulthood may have larger brains in middle-age, compared to people who do not take care of their heart health.


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8. Consuming Tobacco Affects Brain Health

Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are detrimental to brain health. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of cognitive decline, dementia, and stroke. Quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke can significantly improve brain health and reduce the risk of neurological disorders.


A 2009 study presented by the Journal of Neurochemistry suggests a direct link between smoking and brain damage. Scientists have found that a compound in tobacco provokes white blood cells in the central nervous system to attack healthy cells, leading to severe neurological damage.


Related story: How To Quit Smoking


9. Quality Sleep Helps to Relax The Brain

Getting sufficient, high-quality sleep is crucial for optimal brain health. During sleep, the brain consolidates memories, removes toxins, and rejuvenates itself. Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can impair cognitive function, memory, and attention. To promote quality sleep, establish a consistent sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, ensure a comfortable sleep environment, limit exposure to electronic devices before bed, and avoid caffeine and stimulating activities close to bedtime. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to support brain health and overall well-being.


A 2019 study by the Washington University School of Medicine shows that sleep deprivation causes tau levels to rise and tau tangles to spread through the brain. Tau is a protein that is primarily found in the brain and plays a role in stabilising microtubules, which are structures involved in maintaining the structure and transport of cells. Abnormal accumulation of tau protein is a characteristic feature of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease.


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10. Alcohol Consumption Hampers Brain Health

Excessive alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on the brain. Long-term heavy drinking can lead to memory problems, cognitive impairments, and an increased risk of dementia. Practice moderation and limit alcohol consumption to promote optimal brain health.


By incorporating these ten evidence-based strategies into your lifestyle, you can effectively promote brain health and enhance cognitive function. Remember, maintaining a healthy brain requires a holistic approach that encompasses physical, mental, and lifestyle factors. Prioritise these practices to ensure a sharp, resilient, and thriving brain throughout your life.


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