Keep The Brain Fit

Yes, you are losing it, so take steps now to save your brain from a slow decline.
Men's Health        Print Edition: June 21, 2015
Keep The Brain Fit

Yes, you are losing it, so take steps now to save your brain from a slow decline -

Siphon Off Stress

Stress can increase cortisol in your body, says Dr Samir Parikh, Director, Mental Health & Behavioural Science, Fortis Healthcare, Delhi. This affects memory, learning, and the production of neurotransmitters. Meditation eases anxiety so sit quietly and try to feel some peace.

Drop Your BP

The higher your systolic blood pressure is when you're younger, the more likely you are to lose grey matter in key areas as you age, say scientists at UC Davis. Chronically high BP (above 120/80 mmHg) deprives your brain of blood and nutrients. Have your BP checked yearly after 40.

Stay Classy

Sign up for a free online class or take courses at a nearby college. In a study from Germany, people who spent more time on brainstimulating activities cut their risk of Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment by 62 per cent, compared with people who spent less time on these activities.

Beware of Belly Fat

Men in a Kaiser Permanente study who packed on the most abdominal fat by their 40s were the most likely to develop dementia later on. Fat cells increase inflammation throughout your body and brain. "Weight training three days a week is the best way to melt visceral fat," adds Neeraj Mehta, a personal trainer based out of New Delhi.

Be Like Popeye

Learn to love olive oil. In a study from Spain, men who ate about four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil a day showed better language comprehension, attention, and abstract thinking than those on a lowfat diet. Its antioxidants may reduce brain inflammation.

Dine with Wine

Drink a glass of red wine every day. "This type has the most resveratrol, an antioxidant that protects neurons from damage," says Loveneet Batra, nutrition consultant, New Delhi. Dark chocolate has resveratrol too.

Do More Things You Suck At

You'll help grow new brain connections. Can't sing? Keep trying. A mess at chess? Challenge the kids. As we become older, we tend to do things we're already good at, but you have to step out of your comfort zone to keep your cognitive edge.

Nourish Your Neurons

"Just 15 to 20 minutes of cardio a day can lower Alzheimer's risk, says Dr Honey Tandon, chief nutritionist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon. Increased bloodflow helps brain cells communicate better, he says. Strength training works too - focusing on form can give an added boost.

Become A Fishmonger

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish (or fish-oil supplements) help form the myelin sheaths that line your brain's "wiring"; their breakdown is a factor in both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, says George Bartzokis, MD, a professor of neuroscience at the UCLA Brain Research Institute.

Boost Memory

In a study reported in Psychological Science, college students who practiced mindfulness- awareness of the moment-for two weeks showed memory improvements. Want in? Take a yoga class.

Pile on the Salad

"Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables protect your brain from wear and tear and the stress of aging," clarifies Tandon. A 40-year-old should consume at least two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables a day, the US Department of Agriculture says."

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